Amateur Archaeology

What a Shit Find!

Amateur Archaeology

In January 1972 the Treasures of Tutankhamun exhibition arrived at the British Museum in London. Officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II on March 29th of that year, the awe-inspiring solid gold artifacts drew an impressive 1.6 million admirers from all corners of the globe. Although distance and expense prevented our family from visiting this ancient spectacle, neither mine nor my sister's enthusiasm for all things Egyptian was dampened. Far from it. When the Sunday Times newspaper produced a glossy-paged magazine with Tutankhamun's death mask showcasing the front page, we were both determined to become the next Famous Archaeologists..

The Dig..

The following weekend with our mindset still focused on carrying out our own expedition, my older sibling and I armed ourselves with trowels, an old paint brush and half-a-dozen pickled onion sandwiches and set out in search of a possible dig site. Considering parental restrictions forbade us from leaving our own backyard, it didn't take us long to find one. Situated at the bottom of the garden and directly opposite the potting shed was an unkempt patch of land; the ideal location to commence our quest. At first all we managed to unearth were a couple of rusty nails and a few bits of old wire, not exactly an historical find.

After moving to another area our luck changed for the better. Lying amongst the overgrown grass were what we immediately surmised to be sun-bleached bones from Ancient Egypt. Although excited, we knew the remains had to be moved with care. So while my sister tentatively lifted the pieces of bone from their resting place with her bare hands, I appointed the now empty lunchbox as the vessel in which to transport our delicate treasure. It was an ideal choice because the relics fitted perfectly inside. Not five minutes later, donning mud-encrusted boots and protectively holding the sacred plastic box, we headed back home.

To this day I will never forget the expression on my mum's face after her grubby-faced daughters handed over their discovery for her to inspect; it was one of absolute disgust. It turned out that we hadn't excavated ancient bones at all, but old dog turds. And to make matters worse, we had stored the damp, crumbling faeces in our mother's brand new Tupperware container! Needless to say our choice of hobby came to an abrupt end..


Jane Helen Croft


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