Vol. 3, Issue 7, March 8, 2005
Random Numbers for All Purposes
The Bentinel

Borrowed Treasure

Ezekiel F. Watley, Esq.

When Mister Carter thrust aside the veils of Time in 1922 and brought forth the golden treasures of King Tutankhamen's tomb, imaginations the world Over were fired. Such a young Pharaoh, buried with such Opulence! Ah, such marvelous Treasures were carried forth, immortalized in Tantalizing sepia tones in the National Geographic. It is perhaps hard for to-day's Youth, immersed in a daily Maelstrom of marvels and images from around the Globe, to appreciate the dusty magic this event had upon a Nation.

Strange, of course, that the Nation whose imagination should be truly Fired Up should be Great Britain (along with, of course, its rapscallion Offspring across the Atlantic). So blithely did the good Mister Carter bask in the Lime-light, awash in an Avalanche of tele-grams from an eager Public the world over. Dignitaries vied for a chance at a Camel-ride across the Desert, for a glimpse into the dusty Tomb; golden treasures Aplenty were taken from the tomb. Ah, science! Those were heady days of Discovery and Mystery: all the more so, naturally, because people began dropping like Flies as if struck down by the apparent Curse of the Pharaoh's Tomb.

How strange to appropriate the treasures of Another land in the name of Knowledge. The practice of acquiring shiny things that belong to some-one Else is of course a Hallowed national pastime across the globe; and in years past the takers were not very Particular about preserving Knowledge, or Heritage, choosing instead to melt Down that which was inconvenient to carry. The archaeology practiced by Carter and his associates was but a step Up from this practice: the shiny things were not Melted, but rather valued all the More for the history they held.

Alas, that which was Not shiny did not fare so well. The most recent Electro-magnetic X-rays taken of this long-dead king confirm principally a great deal of Damage done by Carter and his team, who eagerly broke long-embalmed Bones and scattered assorted pharaohnic Body Parts about in pursuit of trinkets tucked away in the Wrappings. Those who buried the young king left behind such Treasures in honor of the Deceased, the true treasure in that dusty sealed tomb. Alas that those who opened it did not see things the same way.

We have come a long Way, perhaps, from the days when ground medicinal mummia was prescribed by Physicians for ailments ranging for Epilepsies to Vertigoes to Palsies. But does not an obelisk to the memory of Tuthmose III (also known as Cleopatra's Needle) adorn the banks of the Thames, a transplanted Marvel, testament to once-mighty Imperialism? The very Smithsonian itself guards treasures of Dubious provenance, collected by Adventurers of Carter's ilk.

Can the past be Undone? Surely not. But if we cannot entirely Atone for the actions of our forebears, we may surely do our best to carry Forward as best we can. The marvelous Electro-magnetic imaging apparatus was brought this time to the buried Tutankhamen, and not he to the Instruments: sign of a new Respect perhaps, and a gentler Age with fewer Adventures, but no fewer riches.

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