The Discovery of the Treasure
ddwlem IZ~ theizzystory
Edit September 1 , 2012
It happened in South England one week before Thorf Serendopolis was to arrive in Santorini, Greece.
The summer day had been full of rain, heavy bursts pelting the landscape then slowing to a misty shower only to repeat the drenching pattern. It wasn’t until seven-ish that a hazy sun appeared through the clouds promising time enough to pop Tasy in the Pug and go for a jog. Tasy was her pet terrier and she was Dee, an archaeology student eager to get on with the daily jog around Stonehenge. Maybe it was her intimacy with the site that drew her there, or just the convenience. The house she roomed at was nearby in Laverstock and this was the longest stretch for jogging in the area. Reason enough.
Dee parked the car on the southwestern end of the earthen road. The usual small family campers were nowhere to be seen. All the tour buses and employees were gone, the visitor parking gate was locked and it was peaceful. Evening trekkers could still access the walking paths. It appeared, however, that the rain had kept them away. The traffic along A344 and 303 was all but nonexistent. She looked forward to the solitude and exercise.
“Just a minute, Tas. Hold still.” As many times as she’d had her leash clipped to her collar, Tasy still exuberantly wagged her tail and the rest of her body, making it tough for Dee to attach the braided
tether. “Got it you little rascal,” Dee said. She nuzzled Tasy’s neck affectionately then opened the car door.
Tasy leading the way, the two friends began their run along the earthen road that rimmed the west side of the World Heritage Site. The rain had filled holes in the uneven road creating a maze of puddles. Tasy splashed straight through them while Dee had to jump and maneuver to avoid a muddy drenching.
They came to the end of the road and turned onto the footpath leading past the monument. Tasy jerked forward pulling with all her might. “Not so fast!” The leash came free from Dee’s grasp. She stumbled forward. When she regained her balance she saw the leash snaking through the air behind a vanishing blur of white fur. She’s heading for the security access gate to Stonehenge. She must have seen a fox, maybe a rabbit.
Dee scanned the area. “Tasy, Tasy,” Then she called, “TASY!”
Dee was sure the little terrier would come bounding back, tail between her legs, but there was no sign of her.
Then, “ARF, ARF, ARF, ARF, and scrapping sounds. Something’s frightened Tasy. Sounds like digging! She can’t be digging inside Stonehenge!
Tasy was not a thoroughbred anything. The people at the pet rescue center told Dee that her features identified the fox terrier in her. Like a true Terrier, she dug. She had to be closely watched when they were in the garden. Especially when the landlady had the most beautifully tended flowers. Sarah took exception to Tasy, but not when it came to her perennials.
The archaeology student began to run. The footpath was muddy. She slipped and fell onto one knee.
“Tasy, get back here right now!” She brushed off a clump of mud from the knee of her jeans.
“Arf, arf. Arf, arf, arf,” Tasy was telling Dee, ‘Come here, I’ve found something!’
“I’m coming Tasy, whatever it is don’t kill it.”
The huge gate was her only option for quickly entering the secure area. Dee couldn’t fit under the gate and the spikes along the top were nothing to challenge. As a team member of AABU (Archaeology Assistants In Field Work for Bournemouth University) she’d seen Professor Devans open the gate’s combination lock many times, but had been too busy chatting with her fellow team members to notice what combination he used.
She stood staring at the lock then decided to give it a try. She had a combination lock for her bike and when locking the bike she’d move only one disk out of order to make it easier to open. Maybe that’s what Professor Devans did. She studied the pattern of numbers. That’s it. Except for one digit it’s the number to the Equipment Store . She replaced the five with a two. The lock released.
Dee pulled hard and the gate’s metal bar slid toward her. She stopped the heavy gate from fully opening, slid her body through the space and stepped inside the grounds of Stonehenge. Dee hurriedly pulled the gate closed then slid the bar back into its sheath. The lock went into her pocket as she took off to find Tasy.
Maybe she’d chased a rabbit through the visitor’s tunnel. Looking down the double tiered ramp that led to the tunnel, Dee called, “Tasy, Tasy, Tasy.” She heard a faint “Arf, arf. Arf, arf, arf.” The muffled message was unmistakable to Dee. Tasy has found something, but she was not near the tunnel.
Turning in the direction of the stones, the anxious student scanned the distant land forms as she jogged toward the monument. Again, “Arf, arf. Arf, arf, arf.” The barks were closer but not in the direction she was heading. She turned toward the Heelstone. It was a large uneven stone set off from the others, close to the road. She picked up her pace, then ran. A mound of freshly dug earth was growing larger at the base of the legendary stone. She reached the site and looked down. Tasy, her white fur and black spots an icky mess of matted earth, was submerged in a wide hole. “.So this is where you are you naught….. What’s this? Tas, what’re you digging up?”
Dee fell down on her knees and lifted Tasy out of the hole and removed her soggy leash. She put the pup down and looked into the hole. The top edge and sides of an urn were visible. It sat upright in the earth. The urn’s opening was packed to the top with what appeared to be more of the same earth into which it had been placed. No handles. It had no handles!
“You found a collared urn?” Dee took Tasy’s head between both of her grimy hands and looked straight into her pup’s inquisitive eyes. “You’re some Terrier. I don’t get it, Tas. Why dig here?”
She’d solve that mystery later. Now she needed advice. “Professor Devans’ll know what to do.
You stay here.” Dee held her opened hand as a command signal. “Stay.” The well trained fox terrier knew just what to do. She lay down, her head held alert with ears perked up. She placed her forepaws above the edge of the hole and splayed her hind legs behind . “That’s a good girl. I’ll be right back.”
As she ran to the car, her heart raced and her thoughts took another direction. This has got to be a hoax. Someone must have planted it. Maybe he put a dead mouse on top of where he buried the pottery. He had to find a fake urn and then fill it with debris, dig a hole without being seen, put everything back and hope someone’s dog would find it and make a big deal in the press. He’s probably waiting for tomorrow’s headlines, ‘Dog Uncovers Valuable Artifact at Stonehenge.’ I’ve got to call Prof.
The clouds had formed and hid the sun again. None of this mattered to the archaeology student. She felt the rain brush her face as she skidded on the mud in front of her ‘Pug,’ what she called her hand-me-down Peugeot 309. She had to make a fast decision: Dirty clothes? Dirty mobile keypad? Dee wiped the mud from her hands onto her sweatshirt. What could be better than Heritage Mud to stain my BU Sweatshirt?
She opened the car door and reached for her knapsack. The pay as you go device was under the outer pocket’s flap. She activated the phone and searched the directory. He was in the P’s for professor. She selected ‘Prof G Devans,’ and pressed the dial icon.
Ring, ring, ring, “Devans here.”
“Professor Devans this is Dee… “
“Your credit is running low,” came an automated message.
“Please don’t lea...”
“be be be be be be be be be,”
Damn! What good is this thing! Dee threw the phone onto the passenger seat, closed the driver side door, started the engine and drove the car to the security access gate. She got out and opened the trunk.
It took dog and master some time to carefully free the urn from its earthen home. Once completely out of the hole, it stood in all its muddy magnificence like a mirage in the dusk of day. She and Tasy had managed to free the vessel from the earth in one piece. There was no time to contemplate its story. Dee brushed strands of wet hair from her forehead and got to work. She had an oil cloth lining the inside of her 309’s boot. She’d brought that along when she’d carried the tools to the hole. She covered the empty hole with the cloth and weighted it down along the edges with sodden earth.
The rain had stopped. She hoped that would prevent the hole from filling up with water. Dee knew if she could reach Devans this evening they would be back at break of dawn to do damage control. She was sure damage control was not what Professor Geoffrey Devans had in mind for his weekend.
The archaeology student knew she should not be doing this herself but she also knew that thieves could be found at night chipping away at the stones. Any article, fake or authentic, would not have been safe unattended at that remote site.
Measurements, photographs, earth samples should have been taken with every stage of removal. It was getting dark and a breeze of cool air gave her a shiver . What about the required Standard Finds Recording Form? This wasn’t a farmer’s field or homeowner’s back yard. This was Stonehenge, a World Heritage Site. She wondered how many laws she was breaking.
Careful not to enlarge any existing cracks, Dee wrapped the artifact in Tasy's woven leash. "Wow, this thing's heavy, Tas, let's go."
She’d only a short distance to carry it. Dee had left the gate ajar and back door of her car open to make the urn’s journey as quick and safe as possible. She placed it gently into Tasy’s soft car-bed which she'd moved from the front seat to the floor behind the front passenger seat. Maybe the trip of its life, even if it was a Pug.
Dee turned her sweatshirt inside out and formed it into a nest on the passenger front seat. She knew Tasy would appreciate snuggling into her master’s earthy scent during the road trip to BU.
In damp tee shirt and muddy jeans, Dee drove to Bournemouth University. She planned the story she would tell Professor Devans while her right hand unconsciously patted Tasy’s head as it rested on her thigh. The rhythm of her heart slowed to a steady beat.
It took Dee forty-five minutes, the 309’s best time, to reach the archaeology department of Bournemouth University. It was dark. She drove up to the door of the Equipment Store, just like she’d seen delivery trucks do. There were no lights on in the room. She got out of the car and looked up. A light was on in one of the upstairs labs. She tried the door. Locked.
Cold, hungry, and desperate she slumped onto the seat of the car. The movement of someone walking across the room upstairs caught her attention. “Tasy, hold your ears, I’m going to make a loud noise! The perceptive canine jumped across Dee’s lap and out the Pug’s open door. Dee leaned onto the horn and blasted.
BEEEEEEP, BEEEEEEP, BEEEEEEP.
Tasy caught on. ARF, ARF, ARF, followed every sequence of beeps. It worked. Dee saw someone look out of the second floor window. She scooted out of the car and motioned for help.
The light came on in the Equipment Store and Professor Devans appeared. He unlocked the door and stepped outside. His concerned expression was all Dee needed to see. Tears started to form at the corner of her eyes. She wiped them away leaving muddy smudges on her face.
By the looks of his normally bright, chipper and tidy student, Geoffrey Devans knew he’d interpreted correctly the dropped call.
“What is it Dee? Come on in. You look like you could use a cup of coffee and a lab coat” He motioned for her to proceed through the door. Tasy accepted the invitation and trotted in.
Dee shook her head. “There’s something in my car you’ve got to see right now Professor Devans!. It’s on the floor in Tasy’s seat.”
“Gotcha!” He let the door close behind him.
Dee led him to the back of the car and opened the passenger side door. “It’s pretty heavy,” she said and bent over to pick it up.
“No, no, let me do that! Just move the driver seat forward. Looks like this thing’s really wedged in here.”
“The seat won’t go forward or backward. Sorry.”
Professor Devans turned to look at Dee with an understanding expression. “Yeah, okay, not a problem. Get the door for me.”
He took his time maneuvering the dog bed out from behind the driver’s seat. As he carried it through the door of the Equipment Store he said, “ Don’t tell me a thing yet. Now I get to practice what I preach!
“That’s cool. You have ten minutes. I’ll not prejudice you!
Professor Devans was well known for requiring his students to take in all observable evidence without asking questions when making an initial identification of a relic. He wanted them to learn not to allow someone else’s statements to prejudice their initial observations.
Not a word was said as the artifact made its way to the second floor lab. Tasy returned and joined the solemn procession just as the lift door opened.
The elevator door closed, Dee knelt down and hugged her pet. “Tasy, don’t say a word.” Tasy wagged her tail. “That’s a good doggie.”
Devans set the heavy load on the surface of a laboratory table. He wiped his forehead and
looked at Dee. “First things first. Let’s get you a lab coat. You must be freezing.” He took a coat from its hook, “Here’s a clean one,” and handed it to Dee. “ Relax a moment.” He pulled out his office chair that was in the corner of the room and motioned for her to sit down. “Catch your breath. We could all do for some nourishment. I’ll call in an order at Costa. My treat. What can I get you besides some hot coffee?
“Tuna sandwich. I’ll share it with Tasy. I‘d prefer a café latte, if you don’t mind.”
Professor Devans found an empty Costa cup. He filled it with water for Tasy and set it beside the thankful Terrier.
Dee smiled and nodded her thanks.
Professor Devans pulled up a chair near the object in the dog bed. He swung the chair around backwards and sat down facing the find. He studied it quietly and took a few notes.
Footsteps were heard in the hallway. Devans quickly got up from the chair, felt for the wallet in his back pocket and went to the door. He stepped outside into the hallway leaving the door open just enough to elbow the tray and its contents through. He paid for the order and thanked the coffee bar attendant. Professor Devans waited for the young man to turn the corner then entered the room. His right foot gave the door a solid push and it latched.
“Your discovery here is not for discussion beyond this room. Can’t take any chances with the wrong information getting out.” He set the tray on an empty table. While he went to lock the door, Dee moved a stool for herself near the tray of food.
The lab coat offered some warmth, the hot latte even more as Dee cradled the cup in her hands. Prof handed Tasy a paper plate with most of a tuna sandwich. The smaller portion was for him. His stomach never did well when he was this excited. Dee, on the other hand, had consumed most of her sandwich before Devans had stirred the milk into his coffee.
He took a slow drink of coffee. “Dee, you’ve found something that appears to be authentic; quite interesting. Of course we’ll have to test it, but a collared urn like this could very well be from an early Bronze Age burial. Urns with this appearance are a common find in this area, as you know. My observation of this urn, however, gives me the impression that the firing procedure was exceptional. There are no visible cracks. It has a simple ornamental design. That may mean it was crafted for the common burial, or for everyday use as a storage vessel.” Professor Devans paused. “ Now it’s your turn, Dee. How in the world did you find it?”
Like the repeating rounds of an automatic weapon, Dee’s words tumbled from her mouth.“Tasy and I were jogging around the site. All of a sudden she pulled so hard on her leash it slipped out of my hand. It must have been a baby fox or maybe a rabbit. I didn’t see it. Before I could reach her, she’d dug this huge hole. It was so deep I had to get down on my knees to lift her out. That’s when I saw it. It’s probably a hoax or something. I’m thinking someone put it in the ground and is waiting to see the morning headlines. (She mimicked an announcer.) “ ‘Breaking News: Dog Finds Treasure at Base of Heel Stone.’ ” I couldn’t get the mes..”
“Heel Stone?” His eyes widened. The hand holding his cup of coffee began to shake. Coffee sloshed onto the table as he set it down. Professor Devans peered around the lab making sure no one else was there. Beads of perspiration began to appear at his hairline. He leaned toward Dee and whispered. You can’t be talking about Stonehenge can you?”
“Well yeah,” came the sheepish reply.
Professor Devans lowered his shaking head into both his hands while dropping his elbows onto the table. “To hell with the coffee,! I need a gin and tonic.”
“I’m really sorry Professor Devans but I couldn’t leave it there. She cleaned up the spilled coffee with the edge of her lab coat sleeve. “ I’ll do whatever you….”
He waved her off. “We’ll figure this out, but not here.”
His mind was racing. “I’ve got to leave word with authorities, but which authorities and ..” He stopped in mid speech. ‘I’m going to the site now. It’s got to be official. Want to help? You’ll get a first hand lesson on what to do when you have the right gear.” He got up to leave.
‘Yes, yes, Oh, yes! Come on Tasy!”
“That lab coat’s not going to work outside.” Professor Devans looked around the classroom. He walked over to a stool. I knew I’d find a dry sweatshirt. You okay wearing this? I’m not sure who left it. It’s a little big.” He handed Dee the borrowed warmth and she took it, knowing she’d be only too glad to return the favor.
She put the hoodless sweatshirt over her head. “Oooh, this is warm. Thanks, I’ll be sure you get it back washed!”
“ I’ll get a take-out Costa for both of us. You want another Latte? What about an oatmeal cookie for Tasy?”
Geoffrey Devans arrived first at the hole that looked to be freshly dug near the Heel stone.
“Holy sh!” Professor Devans didn’t want Dee to think he was a veteran profaniteur so he stopped in mid curse.
“This is one huge hole, Tasy. Did you really dig this?” He was standing over the open hole, miners light around his head and stationary light pointed at Tasy. He looked questioningly at the terrier. Tasy looked up at the Professor and wagged her tail. “Arf, Arf, Arf.”
Dee saw the two in ‘conversation’ as she approached. Her miners light bobbed up and down with every labored step she made. She arrived and set down her archaeologist’s tool kit, spotlight and tripod. Tasy trooped over to Dee who gave her a friendly pat. “Whatever you had asked her, Professor Devans, she said ‘Yes!’”
“I’m not sure I believe her. “How long was it before you were able to reach this hole?”
“Well, it seemed like forever. I had to figure out the combination lock and then find out where Tasy was. Oh, I don’t know, maybe five, ten minutes. I remember something else, though. Her first barks were Intruder Alerts, you know, when a stranger approaches and the dog ‘s surprised. Tasy makes continuously loud, sharp barks. She only did one string of those alerts, then the other barks were telling me she’d found something.”
Dee attached the spotlight to the tripod and pressed the button. “Now that’s more like it. See what I mean about the right equipment?”
Dee didn't hear his last comment. “Do you think there was someone, a person, here and Tasy scared him away? That’s scary, I never thought of that.”
“Well, Tasy couldn’t have dug this big a hole in even half an hour. No way!” He set down the stationary light and carefully scraped earth from the outer edges of the hole.
“Look here, Dee.” Directing his light at a spot in the ground, Professor Devans pointed to marks in the earth he had exposed.
“Oh, that’s a shovel cut. It’s pretty deep.”
“Good observation.” The professor was pleased.
“ You’re right! Tasy would never have done that! Here, I’ll measure it.”
He jotted down the information while Dee took measurements.
“Now we ask the question, was someone putting this in or taking it out? We’ll let the analyses tell us.”
Hours later Devans, and Dee with Tasy as sentinel had completed their mission. They used bailing twine attached to metal pegs to define the extended perimeter of the hole.
“Okay, See you tomorrow. Cleaning and documenting shouldn’t take too long.
I’ll meet you at the Equipment Store. This time you won’t need to let me know that the one thing on that Pug that works really well is its horn.” He smiled, thinking she would take it as a joke.
Dee stood her ground. In the dark of the early morning she looked down at Tasy whose ears perked up; then she looked at Professor Devans.
“Okay, sure, bring Tasy. She started this adventure. I guess it’s her right!”
“Thank you, Thank you Professor Devans! Did you hear that Tasy? It’s an adventure and you started it.”
Happily Master and dog hopped into the 309 for what was left of the night.
Professor Devans headed home to a gin and tonic.
Shortly before noon of the next day the Pug rolled into the unloading spot for the equipment store.“Looks like you’ve both made up for the lost sleep last night! I’ve already received a couple calls asking me what’s been found. ” Professor Devans ushered in his student and her dog. “ We’re going to have some help with the analyses. I’ve asked Lisbet to perform her magic.”
Devans handed Dee her tools and gloves. “Hey Tasy,” He bent down and petted her head. She wagged her tail. “Don’t have any tools for you but I’ve got some dog biscuits.”
“Arf, arf,” this time her whole back side and tail wagged.
Dee looked down at Tasy. She held out her hand and with closed fingers waved it back and forth. No barking Tasy. We’re in a quiet zone.” Tasy sat down and waited. “Okay, come..”
“Smart dog! Wish that technique worked on college students!”
“Hi,” Lisbet said cheerily as the three entered the second floor Characterization Lab. She knelt down and patted Tasy. “I understand you’re the Discovery Dog.” Lisbet knew firsthand about grandkids and pets. Sometimes she wasn’t sure which she preferred, but today Tasy was queen. “I get to play with my ‘babies’ today, Tasy. Isn’t that great!”
“Dee you probably didn’t know, but my TL dating instrument has been down for a month. They finally repaired it Friday. Glad this happened when it did, you finding the urn on Friday. We’ll get a head start and, anyway, I’m psyched! It’s not every day I get to analyze a find from Stonehenge!”
Through dedication, precision, and good instincts, Lisbet Fleming had risen to her current position
as Chief Analyst of Antiquities Bournemouth University. She sat on the board of Great Britain’s Heritage Trust which added to her stature in the world of archaeology.
Volunteering a partial day off to come to work was not a problem if Dr. Geoffrey Devans needed Lisbet’s help. His projects were always interesting: a welcome relief from the tedium of everyday analyses. She’d never forget the time he’d asked her to analyze a specimen of exploding toothpaste. They had to close down the men’s room so she could take a sample from the ceiling.
Professor Devans spoke up. “I’ve already photographed our ‘Stonehenge Heelstone TAS309.’ Like the name?”
“Cool! D’ya hear that, Tas? You’ve been immortalized in archaeology literature.” Dee scratched Tasy’s head.
“Lisbet, not to keep you in the dark, Dee drove the artifact here in her Peugeot 309. Thought under the circumstances that Pug deserves its rightful recognition. Found no conflict when I skimmed the ID database. Dee you can do a full backup check on this tomorrow.”
Professor Devans handed the camera to Lisbet. He had precisely ordered the tools on the end of the table. Geoffrey Devans was paranoid (students’ word) about organization of everything archaeological.
All three had donned clean lab coats. “Come on Tasy you’ve got to be in the first still shot.” He reached down and picked up Tasy and handed her over to Dee. “Here ya go, Tasy”
Geoffrey motioned for them to get into position in front of the Urn. “Okay Lisbet, make sure the urn is visible. Take several just to make sure we get a good one.”
“Good! Let’s first get a sample of the earth under the lip of the urn and compare the trace metals in it to that of the soil from the hole and to the earth found inside the urn.” He picked up a narrow leaf trowel and removed a portion of hard packed earth. Dee held out a plastic bag to receive the sample.
Exterior earthen samples taken, packaged and labeled the project proceeded. Devans handed a trowel to Dee and the logbook to Lisbet. “I’ll take a video of the initial removal. Then we’ll rotate jobs. We should be finished in no time.”
Dee carefully scraped away the packed earth, putting each loosened portion into the receptacle on the table. The earth was dry and hard. She continued slowly and Lisbet took notes. Professor Devans completed the video and began to help Dee. They soon had half the tray full of earth.
“What’s this? Seeds!” Dee tipped her trowel and let the three seeds mixed with dry earth roll into the tray. Lisbet picked up the camera and took a few photographs.
“There’s more where that came from, lots more.” Devans tipped the urn and poured some seeds into the tray. They resembled hardened wrinkled peas. He looked into the cavity beyond the collar. All seeds. “A storage jar for seeds? That’s strange. He set his trowel in its position with the other tools, and walked over to a wall of shelves filled with reference material.
“I know I’ve seen those seeds before. From the legume family.” He pulled out the L volume of the Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers. “ Here it is. Lathyrus Cicera.” He read aloud, “Lathyrus Cicera is a species of wild pea known by the common names red pea and flatpod peavine. It is native to Europe, North Aftrica, and the Middle East and is known from other places as an introduced species.”
He turned the page and remarked, “Yep, the images look similar. Whatever you do don’t ingest these little devils. It says here, ‘If eaten in large quantities can cause neurolathryrism.’” He added, “Keep Tasy away. Even though they appear to be degraded those seeds still may cause spastic paralysis and pain.”
“I’ve hit something solid! Professor Devans, I need help!”
Professor Devans got up from his PC, put on a pair of neoprene gloves and picked up his trowel. “Let me have a try at this.” He lifted out more seeds and exposed some fabric. He put the trowel down and felt with his hands. It felt like several layers of wrapping were protecting a hard flat object. “Let’s get a video of this. Dee take the camera and wait until Lisbet and I get the object free. I’ll tell you when.”
Taking turns Geoffrey and Lisbet with gloved hands cleared away more and more of the seeds. “Okay, shoot!”
Dee was on a chair so she could center the camera’s view finder on the object as it was removed.
“Careful, the fabric. Ease it down. Excellent. Don’t touch a thing!”
No one in the lab had talent for weaving, but instinctively they recognized a fabric woven by the hands of a master.
"This must have once been a cherished possession." Geoffrey Devans commented.
"Look at those tiny stiches. They actually show fish swimming. Wow!" Dee exclaimed. Lisbet leaned down closer to examine the workmanship.
"Lisbet, please record a description of the fabric,” broke the silence and jolted both women back to reality.
“Oh, sure!” Lisbet responded as she removed her gloves and sat down at her laptop.
“How did they make red?” The fibers had been dyed red. Though faded, the hue was unmistakable. Dee was immensely curious.
“We know that ivy gum or resin from Hedera helix has been used for red as early as the Bronze Age. It’s a vine. Clings to almost anything. Maybe that’s it, don’t really know yet.”
Dr. Devans. picked up two pair of metal tongs and began to use them to unwrap the cloth. “Get this on video, Dee.”
Lisbet was rapidly typing. Fabric tightly woven incorporating images of swimming fish Color is faded red.
He began to slowly unfold the fragile fabric. He didn’t dare to flatten it out. As the ends of the fabric were pulled away and held open by each set of tongs, a curious object emerged.
“Lock the door Dee.” Perspiration found its way to Geoffrey Devan’s receding hairline. “Let’s keep this between the three of us until we have some accurate findings on the whole artifact. The last thing we want is the press expecting a story at this early stage.”
He looked at both women while still holding the tongs in position. “Lisbet and Dee.” Dee walked back to the table. Lisbet looked up from her typing. “Once this does become news, of whatever results, you’re going to be interviewed and quoted. Remember your name may appear in the literature. Lisbet, I know you’re used to this, but Dee you’ve got to be sure you approve everything someone quotes of you before they release it.”
“Wow, you really think this could go global?” Dee’s eyes were wide with excitement.
“I didn’t say, ‘global. That’s your word.” Professor Devans smiled! “Lisbet, please put your gloves back on. I want you to pull away the edging of leather. It appears to be protecting the long side of the plate.” He put the tongs down and pointed to the long edge of the crescent shaped object that was sleeved in a leather sheath.
Dee instinctively picked up the camera and turned on the video.
With fingers of both hands, Lisbet slowly freed the crescent object from its leather sheath. A sparkling brilliance emanated from the semicircular plate.
The video suddenly began photographing the lab table as Dee momentarily forgot her job almost dropping the camera. “WOW! “What is that?”
“Take this down Lisbet. Dee, stay focused!” Geoffrey Devans’ heart began to race, his ‘no-nonsense’ mood kicked in and Lisbet poised her shaking hands on the keyboard.
“Ready!” Professor Devans’ Lisbet confirmed.
Still holding the tongs in position, Geoffrey Devans dictated, “We have a crescent shaped brilliantly glittering small, plate-like object. It’s raised lip is rimmed in a gold band. It looks to be a perfect arc. It appears to have been broken through the center and left with jagged, sharp, uneven edges. The decorative features include:”
The detailed description took only a few minutes. Measurements were taken and recorded.
Professor Devans looked at Lisbet. “Looks like we’ve got a bigger project for you than I thought. With your backlog I know I’m asking a lot. I need the composition of the urn and the plate. On the plate you need to analyze the gold rim, the black script, the red ring, and the black color of the I and Z.”
“I can do this. What about the shiny coating? I’ll analyze that too,” Lisbet added.
“We can do most of the analyses here. I’m going to have to send out samples of the cloth, seeds and leather to Ellen at Irvine. She’s got the quickest turn-around for carbon dating results. Damn, I wish we had our own instrument. She’s expensive and think what time we’d save. What a waste of money if this whole thing turns out to be someone’s idea of a joke!
“Dee, maybe your hoax theory’s got something to it. I can’t understand how these artifacts can be connected. The urn looks exactly like ones carbon dated to the Bronze Age, about six thousand years ago. The Plate. I’ve never seen anything like it from Bronze Age Craftsmen. Much too sophisticated for their technology. It held something samll, but what? The script on its rim looks primitive. Possibly someone was planting it and surprised by a Tasy attack.”
He turned and looked at Lisbet. “We’ll know soon enough if we should involve the police.”
She raised her eyebrows. “The Police! “I’ll get right on this.”
Dee felt a scratching on her ankle. She looked down and saw that Tasy had been trying to get her attention. “ Poor Girl, you must be dehydrated!” She picked up Tasy and found an empty Costa cup with the paper waste. She read the slogan out loud. “What’s That Smell! That’s it, Tas. You smelled something really weird! Professor Devans, I know Tasy wouldn’t have broken away from me for just an ordinary person smell.. She’s too disciplined for that. There must have been an odor that alarmed her.”
“Like Pot? Lisbet joked.
“Well, now that you mention it, some type of smoking chemical might do it!”
“Hold that thought. We’ve got lab work and documentation to complete.” Professor Devans took the file drawer key from his pocket.
“I can fill out the Standard Finds Recording Form, Dr. Devans” Dee volunteered.
“That would be a big help.” He unlocked the file that held the original blank forms and copies of all the previous archaeological finds attributed to BU. “ For now I think the only thing we should report is the urn. Oh, I almost forgot the Conservation Form. Fill out what you can. I’ll do the rest later.” He handed Dee the blank forms then wiped his brow with the back of his hand. He put the key into his pants’ pocket, pulled out a chair and sat backwards on the seat. He thought well when he could lean onto his arms. And there he sat, chin on hands, silently pensive deep into the evening.
Monday arrived. Professor Devans’ students were ready for their first class of the day. It was his Archaeology Honors Program. They seemed unusually attentive as Prof addressed them. “Unless you’ve been unconscious for the last forty-eight hours, you know there’s been a find at Stonehenge. If you’ve been properly informed you know the artifact ended up in BU’s Archaeology Department. And if your informant was in this building you know your Prof has not had much sleep. You may not know, however, that he’s running on adrenalin and can’t wait to tell you the story after today’s test.” There was a unanimous groan from the students.
“Oh, and don’t rush through the test. I need enough time to drink my coffee.” There was a buzz of chatter in the large sunny lab and classroom. A volunteer passed out the tests and Professor Geoffrey Devans swung his chair around backwards, sat down, reached over the chair’s back, picked up his mug of coffee, took a drink then leaned his chin on his folded arms.
He thought of the astute observations and exciting hypotheses he would draw from his students’ supple minds, if only they could be told the whole story. The thought gave him a warm inner glow He’d sworn Dee, and Lisbet to secrecy concerning the contents of the urn so none of that information would be known outside the circle of three. For now, he would make the empty urn’s discovery an exciting lesson for these students.
“So, You made this a one cup test! ” Professor Devans swallowed the last drop of coffee, put his mug down, stood up and turned his chair back to face the desk. He stacked the completed tests in a neat pile and cleared his throat. “Ahhem, Ahhem. Well, well, shall we discuss TAS309?
As my honors’ class you have the distinction of being..”
“Ring,” The phone in the classroom interrupted. Professor Devans accepted only emergency calls during his scheduled classes. Who could this be?
He looked at the phone then at his class. “Excuse me, this must be important.” He walked to his desk and picked up the phone. “Devans here.”
“Sorry to disturb your class, Dr. Devans. Something’s not right. I need you to see this before I go any further with the analyses!”
“I’ll be right down, Lisbet.” Geoffrey Devans sensed the emergency in Lisbet’s voice. He hung up the phone and removed a binder from a drawer in his desk.
The students had already begun to open their textbooks. “No need for you to stay here. I’ve got to solve a problem that may take a while. See you on Thursday. Oh, and brush up on collared urns.” He gave them a thumbs up and left the students to their active imaginations.
A little winded, Geoffrey arrived at the ground floor lab. Lisbet saw him and unlocked the door.
“What’s up, Lisbet?”
Her usually sparkling eyes looked weary. “ Geoffrey, you need to see these results!”
Lisbet made sure the door was locked. She handed Geoffrey the printouts. He took the paper and began to read. “Can’t be. This can’t be! He reached out with his other hand to steady the shaking document and the binder he’d been holding fell to the floor. “Let me see your calibration standards results.” They both ignored the fallen notebook.
Lisbet pulled out the chair that was used for the Scanning Electron Microscope work. “Here, Dr. Devans, please have a seat. I’ve got the calibration results right here. ” She handed him the document.
“Hmm. The calibrations are precise and you’ve got a perfect match on both runs for each artifact. Do you have the bulk and trace metal results?”
“That’s the other problem. She picked up the spreadsheet.
“You read, I’ll listen.” He said.
Lisbet began to read, “The plate’s composition is zirconia with 3% yittria, its outer band is made of 24 carat gold. The plate’s inner rim is ruby. The black letters and figures are composed of multiwalled carbon nanotubes. The coating of the entire surface of the plate is a diamond film.” She finished and looked up.
“If my geochem course served me right the melting point of Zirconia is 2,7150 centigrade. Bronze Age People could produce heat up to 1300 degrees centigrade, never over two thousand degrees centigrade.” Professor Devans was perspiring. He unbuttoned his cardigan and loosened the collar of his shirt. “Why’s it so hot in here?”
“I’ll get you some water.” She put her document in a drawer and headed for the door.
The room was spinning. Professor Devans got up planning to open a window.
Thud, Lisbet turned around and saw Professor Devans sprawled out on the floor. Before she had time to call for emergency assistance he was up on his knees.
“Do not call for help.” He said emphatically. “ I’m okay. I tripped on that damn binder. And thanks, I’ll get myself some water. Let’s get Dee. Will you try the library? DHL should have arrived by now. I’ll check to see if there’s been a delivery from Irvine. We need to connect the dots! Meet me in the Osteology Lab. It’s much cooler there.”
“Are you sure you’re okay?” He had picked up the notebook and went to the drawer where she’d placed the spreadsheet of her analyses.
“I’m fine! Just wasn’t paying attention. I’m going to make a copy of these analyses.” He took the sheet out of the drawer and put it in a pocket of the binder.
Lisbet locked the lab door on her way out behind Geoffrey.
The cool air coming through the window of the Osteology Lab felt refreshing. Geoffrey Devans took in a long breath. He set down his bottle of water on a lab table and opened the DHL envelope. There was a brief personal greeting from Ellen including a thank you for his request. The lab results were on a separate sheet. He scanned it until he came to the concluding results.
RC dating of Lathyrus Cecera seeds using AMS method: age 3600 ± 36 BP
RC dating of Woven Nettle Cloth using AMS method: age 3600 ± 36 BP
RC dating of Leather Sheath using AMS method: age 3600 ±36 BP
The knock on the door startled him back to reality. It was Lisbet and Dee. Professor Devans unlocked the door.
“ It’s my turn to treat.” Dee cheerfully said as she entered carrying a Costa holder with three cups of coffee and individual cream and sugars in the fourth cup holder.”
“Thanks, I can sure use it.”
Lisbet had a file folder in her hands. “ I didn’t have a chance to read you the results of the soil analyses. They’re all here.” She placed it on the lab table next to the DHL envelope. She found two stools and drew them up close to the one straight backed chair that apparently Professor Devans had been thinking in.
The three of them sat down.
“I’d forgotten all about the soil tests.” He laced the fingers of both hands over the back of his head and rocked back and forth. He stopped rocking. “Let me guess, Lisbet. The soil from under the lip and inside the urn have the same ratio of trace metal distribution, but the soil sample from the undisturbed area near the hole has a different distribution.”
“You’ve almost got it. It’s just that the soil sample from the undisturbed area is significantly different.” Lisbet emphasized the word significantly.”
“Good! The urn had been in the ground since the Bronze Age! Let’s look at all our data to date. Dee write this reminder on the top of the board, please. BP equals Before Present and the standard archaeological Present is 1950, so when you see 3600 BP you can interpret it as 1650 BCE.” Dr. Devans gathered up the notes he’d taken, Lisbet’s results, Ellen’s Carbon Dating information and began to read off a list of analytical findings and extraneous facts for Dee to transcribe on the board. By the time he had finished delivering the information Dee had filled the board to the bottom.
“Good! We’ll summarize over there.” He pointed to the board on the adjacent wall. “Just write, ‘Conclusion.’”
“Okay Each of us is going to write our own Conclusions in private. Then we’ll see if we have a consensus. We’ve got ten minutes.” He handed paper to Dee and Lisbet and took one for himself. The three began to write.
After five minutes all three conclusions were complete. Dr. Devans handed the three documents to Lisbet and said, “Okay, you’re good at consensus. What have we three agreed on? Dee will you write this on the board?”
Lisbet began. “We’ve unanimously agreed upon the following:
- The urn and the plate were removed from earth that had been undisturbed for three thousand years.
- All artifacts have tested to show an age of older than 3000 years.
- The technology used to make the plate is too advanced for Bronze Age People to have produced.
- The plate appears to be broken in half
- The script on the plate is unknown
- Someone had begun to dig in the spot where Tasy was found digging.
The final consensus: This is no hoax.”
Lisbet put down the papers and Dee took her seat on the stool.
“If we could just find someone to decipher the script on the plate. I’ve spent the last two evenings looking for names of experts who can interpret ancient script. What I’ve learned is that a Professor Emmett L. Bennett, now retired from the University of Wisconsin in the U.S. is the preeminent scholar on Linear B Script. Problem is, he’s retired and we’d have to get a special dispensation from the budget committee to make any contact with him. Then, his fees would probably be astronomical. Just don’t kn..”
“I know someone, you won’t believe this!” Dee was so excited she’d jumped off her stool and stood tall with her hands on her hips and her head forward to emphasize her point. “My grandfather, they call him Professor. He lives in Santorini. He’s just the greatest guy, but listen. He’s met Professor Bennett. My grandfather‘s a member of the Archaeological Society of Athens. Gramps studies Linear B and has been working to decipher Linear A. He and Emmett are friends. I remember Gramps was in Athens when Professor Bennett received The Gold Cross of the Order of Honor. That’s the highest award the Greek Government can present. At least that’s what Gramps told me. Gramps has pictures and everything. I’ve seen them. I’ll call him. He’ll really be excited to help! You’ve gotta meet Gramps! At least he can tell us if it’s really linear A or B script.”
Professor Devans could since the sincerity in Dee’s offer. He couldn’t just hand over an artifact of such potential value to a student’s grandfather he’s never met. Plus he was in Greece.
“I don’t know, Dee. Greece is not down the motorway. I’ll have to think about this. Now that we’ve got the results of all these tests, there’re more forms to fill out. I can use your help on that.” Geoffrey was trying to change the subject.” Inwardly he was tantalized by Dee’s proposal.
Lisbet could read his mind. “Look, you and Dee could take three emergency days off. Dee your grandfather’s really ill, and Geoffrey you were called to the University for your vote as an Honorary Councilor of the Archaeological Society of Athens. That’s all I know. I don’t remember any of the rest of this conversation. Let me do the leg work on booking flights. Geoffrey you can bill it as a professional expense, and answer questions later. Think about it. I’m going to check into schedules. Dee, go ahead, talk to your gramps, but don’t tell him why you and Professor Devans need to meet with him secretly. That okay with you Professor Devans?”
Geoffrey Devans was not paying attention. He was planning where to go to check up on Dee’s grandfather. “What’s your grandfather’s full name, Dee?” He blurted out.
“It’s Aristotle Maritimis. Oh everyone on Santorini knows him. They call him Sailor Cum Laude. He gets a kick out of that.”
Dee was feeling the excitement of this possibility. “Lisbet, if you make arrangements for us to meet him make it for the morning. He likes working in the morning. Afternoons are different. He retired from afternoons long ago. If you want to hear his stories, then afternoons are great! Go ahead, check him out. Ohh, I can’t wait. You won’t be sorry Professor Devans!!” She turned to Lisbet and threw her arms around her. You’re wonderful! I’ll bring you back a necklace of volcanic rock. They polish it.” Dee was so excited she was jumping up and down.
“I said I would have to think about it, Dee. This may be a bad idea. I don’t know. When’s your last class today?”
Dee was still excited. “I, I, it’s my three o’clock elective with Dr. Wright. You know, it’s her Fashion Through the Ages Seminar. She won’t miss me. It’s a huge seminar.
“Check in with me at four. One way or another I’ll have a decision.”
“Okay, sure, I’ll calm down. You’ll see. I guarantee, you will not be disappointed in Gramps.”
“Lisbet, let me know what you find on flights? I’ve got to do some checking myself.”
“You bet, if I weren’t so tied down with grandkids, I’d put myself on that plane with you two. I just knew this would be another ET adventure!”
ET was Lisbet’s expression that meant beyond peculiar. It was her way of preserving the memory of Professor Devans’ Exploding Toothpaste study.
“Glad to be one of your secret agents.” She said as she left for her office phone.
Heathrow Airport was busy at night. Lisbet had managed to book a direct flight for two that evening to Athens, Greece. She couldn’t remember when she’d ever organized a trip in such a short amount of time; even to filling her car’s tank with petrol before she loaded in her passengers and their precious cargo.
They’d been on the road for an hour and twenty-five minutes. The entire time Geoffrey Devans had used to advise Lisbet of what she should say if asked any specific questions about Dr. Devan’s or Dees’ absence.
Lisbet turned the car onto the first exit to Departures. She decided to change the subject. “Dee that leather bag of yours; It’s darling. Where’d you come up with it?”
“Oh, I picked it up at a boot sale last year. I fell in love with the leather tooling, but it was always a little too big for me to carry around campus. It’s holding little precious in a comfy cloud of peanuts and that’s inside a couple pillow cases. No one will ever suspect.”
“It goes under the seat in front of me I’m not going to let it leave my sight.” Geoffrey Devans was just beginning to think this through.
“You’re going to look real ‘cute’ entering the men’s room, Geoffrey.” Lisbet couldn’t resist that opportunity. Okay, here we are.” Lisbet pulled the car over to the curb in front of Aegean Airlines.
“Tas, you be good for Lisbet. Promise?” Dee nuzzled her pet and held her tightly for a long moment.
“Come on Dee. We’ve got to hurry.” Professor Devans was not interested in long good-bys. He stood outside the car with their carry-on. “Lisbet, I can’t thank you enough. I’ll call you tomorrow. I hope Tasy doesn’t give you any trouble on the trip back.”
“You two run along. Tasy and I will get on splendidly. That sweatshirt of yours, Dee, was a good idea.”
Tasy was happily snuggled into the sweatshirt-lined dog bed as Lisbet pulled away from the curb. Lisbet, however, couldn’t quite relax. She didn’t let on to Geoffrey or Dee, but she was nervous that they’d be able to pull this off and make the last ferry of the night from Crete to Santorini. Then there was her concern that Dr. Devans had decided to have Dee explain to her grandfather some of the details of why they needed his expertise. To top off that worry, Geoffrey had agreed to have an unknown Archaeology PhD Intern join them.
Lisbet turned from the airport road onto the south exit of the motorway. She patted Tasy on the head. “Now, Tasy, be prepared. You’ll have four little kids, two cats, one iguana, and a parakeet. It gets a little noisy sometimes. As for the adults, the only one you have to worry about is Andersen and with some luck, he won’t even know you’re there. Just remember to scratch me on the ankle when you hear my mobile ring. Let’s hope it’s Professor Devans.