Monthly Archives: September 2016

Volume 2: Dangerous pursuits

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A fictional sub-blog describing things that never were, people who are not real and events which did not happen

The events and people described here are completely fictional and any similarity with the real world is entirely accidental

C is gone, an SUV came on Thursday and took him to the airport (we hope). The driver wasn’t one of the usual ones; he wore a polo shirt and army boots. Our employers said C had to go back to his university for the start of term, but he hadn’t mentioned anything to us. And he had posted some photos of the project on Facebook… We joke that C is back in Germany enjoying a beer while we’re still slaving away on the excavation, it’s comforting to think that might be true.

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The local youth, fully equipped for the nuclear apocalypse

There’s an unusual amount of health and safety gear on this dig. The workmen are all given thick rubber gloves, face masks and goggles and, unusually, they all seem very keen to wear them. Normally Iraqi workmen quickly discard safety gear as too hot and annoying to be bothered with but the young men from the local town who move the spoil are careful to check they are fully protected before they handle the earth. The foreman saw me moving rocks today without gloves, he took me aside and told me I must always wear them here; “Doctora” he said, “it is very dangerous for you”.

The site remains confusing, my trenches are almost sterile in terms of cultural material. Today all we found between the bare stone walls in seven hours of work was one iron nail, an eviscerated mouse corpse (mummified) and a medium sized scorpion. The latter was carefully captured alive by the workmen, placed on a large, flat stone, and then solemnly put to death using the big pick.

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I write this blog post in darkest secrecy while the others are out. I don’t want to go ‘to the airport’.

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Volume 1: Lost context

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A fictional sub-blog describing things that never were, people who are not real and events which did not happen

 

The events and people described here are completely fictional and any similarity with the real world is entirely accidental

I returned to Iraq ten days ago to begin excavation at a new site, this time in the pay of a shadowy and secretive organisation. A group of strangers, this team of archaeologists has been brought together from around the world for a purpose which remains unclear despite the detailed and exacting instructions we have been provided with for the work. I can only hope that the hidden forces behind our investigations are benign and aimed solely at the advancement of scientific knowledge and not towards some more sinister goal.

Conditions are tough. We live crowded together in a single house, working long hours, sleeping when we can on concrete floors huddled under the ceiling fans. Every morning we are driven to the site as the sun comes up and are set to work. The site remains mysterious so far, revealing little either at the surface or in our first trenches. The ghost of a structure here, signs of disturbance there, but nothing concrete, more questions than answers so far. And what of the bigger questions? What are we really looking for? Who is behind the project and why must it be so secret?

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The dogs come to look at us over the city wall

The dogs avoid the site; they prowl around the edges in small packs, never daring to come closer. The ancient walls which ring the site seem to repel them, although they are little more than low ridges in the dry landscape. We find dead dogs sometimes, not by the road where they’re most common, but in the cultivation at the edge of the site. Inside the walls only hurtful things seem to thrive: snakes, scorpions and camel thorn. But these are not our only company; sometimes we see figures in the distance, sometimes lone men and sometimes groups, sometimes working and sometimes appearing to watch us.

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Snake skins caught on the camel thorn flutter in the wind

Communication with the outside is forbidden, I can only hope that our employers will never find this journal; perhaps the only record of a project intended to be hidden from the world…