jogger in the park
curious dog paws moist earth
found bone — let’s play fetch
And so begins a new adventure for Meghan, our poetic archaeologist. Thanks to Carrie Rubin of The Write Transition for suggesting the idea behind this project. And I apologize for neglecting Poetic Archaeology these last few weeks. But life intervenes, as it should. That being said, onward with the archaeology. *waits while those uninterested in the topic leave the room*
Archaeologists, especially those in universities, get interesting visitors. A farmer finds a stone in a field and wonders if it’s a Native American artifact (sometimes yes, sometimes no). Once in a while, things take a more unusual turn. A local law enforcement office asks for help identifying bones.
Not every community has a trained CSI unit available to help them. And not all CSI units have archaeological training. While it’s easy to recognize a human body when the flesh or obvious skeletal parts (like a skull) are present, identification is far more difficult when only smaller or broken bits of bone are found. In such cases, the police might talk with the archaeologist at a nearby university. Sometimes the police can consult with someone who specializes in forensic archaeology. But more often, a “normal” archaeologist gets the call.
Someone like Meghan. She works in a small Mid-Atlantic university, specializing in historical archaeology. She’s far enough away from Washington, DC, and its Maryland and Virginia suburbs to be close to smaller communities. They’re the least likely to have easy access to full-time forensic specialists.
Meghan has a visitor, a detective from a nearby community. (No, it’s not Jack Trainer of Death Out of Time.) As our opening poem suggests, a jogger had quite the surprise when his dog ran back to him with a bone.
If that bone resembled any of these in the above photo, Meghan’s response would please the detective—he wouldn’t be overworked with another case. Hmm, he needs a name. Let’s see. How about Tom Sandberg. And Meghan should have a last name—Bode. Thank you Scrivener name generator.
Meghan would recognize these as cattle bones. Since she’s a historical archaeologist, she might ask Detective Sandberg where the bone was found. Maybe there’s a nearby site she could investigate. Then again, she may be too busy with other projects to give it much thought.
But the found bone looks more like this.
In graduate school, Meghan took courses in human skeletal analysis. And she’s excavated burials before. She knows what Sandberg has handed her.
“It’s human,” she tells him. “The right humerus. That’s your upper arm bone.”
Sandberg slumps in his chair and rubs his face. “Tell me it’s old. Really old. Like a thousand years old.”
“I can’t do that,” Meghan says.
I hope you’ll enjoy this new twist on Poetic Archaeology.
A Beta Request
I’m looking for an experienced science fiction beta reader to tackle the current draft of Death Out of Time. I’ve gotten great feedback from 4amWriter, and I agree with her that Draft 3 also needs a go-through by someone with a sci-fi/time travel background. I can reciprocate by reading your current WIP or another project in the future, whichever works best for you. If you’re interested, please contact me at jmmcd2009 (at) gmail (dot) com.