Discombobulating Discobolus

Date +++Saturday June 16th 2306+++

Historic “Florida” having long since sunk beneath the waves, we were on a desperate quest to rescue the final items of archeological interest before the last remains of this near legendary peninsular were lost forever.

Our hopes were not high this morning, when a strangled cry rose from the site known as ‘K-Mar 16’ (a long flat area of concrete, probably used for processions and other ceremonial events). We all rushed over to where Dr Engel squatted, trowel in hand, eyes bulging as if someone had just inserted a sharp instrument in a particularly soft part of his anatomy.

“Look at this! Look at this!”

Belying her advanced age, it was Professor Rouhani who arrived first. She and Engel stood for a moment in silence contemplating the find. The knuckles of a perfectly white hand, polished stone, prodded out of the earth like the fist of a buried person bursting through the soil into the light.

Discombobulating discobolus

“Whatever can it be?” wondered Rouhani.

“A statue of some kind,” muttered Engel, already sweeping the dirt away with a long flat paintbrush.

“The earth is loose, not clay,” said Rouhani. “We can excavate it now, although it must be, what, two hundred years old at the most?”

Engel’s back was quivering. He began jabbing at the earth like an enraged man trying to force ice cream out of the tub when it’s still too hard.

“Look, there are two hands, clasped together,” he said. “They’re holding something… some kind of shaft.”

Younger assistants began to help, delicately picking away at the clay. A long thin tube appeared, with a kind of small sail at the end. Taking a laser, they measured it at 91.44 centimeters.

“An odd measurement,” mused Engel.

“Typical for the time,” replied Rouhani. She was kneeling now and staring at the handle of the object. “There’s a number here, a ‘6’ or a ‘9’. It’s hard to tell which way up it is.”

“Some kind of weapon, do you think?” Asked Engle. “It’s clearly raised in the air as if to strike.”

“Indubitably,” said Rouhani.

They dug lower. To their delight, they discovered that the statue’s head was intact. It was a man in his late forties or early fifties. Dirt crumbled away to reveal a rumpled mess of curls, a long face with a double chin.

A strange sort of flat headdress sat just above his eyes, running across his forehead and temples in the shape of a crescent.

“What’s this, do you think?” Asked Engel. He had always been the type of academic who made discoveries by asking his students to brainstorm solutions.

“It is the identifying mark of this god or demigod,” Rouhani calmly explained. “The semicircular shape clearly minics the moon, so this is a figure that we can confidently place at the head of some kind of lunar cult.

“Ah,” said Engel, quickly jotting the suggested down.

“Let’s see if the rest of the body is here, shall we?” Said Rouhani, dusting her hands. With a nod, she set her unpaid work assistants to scrape away at the giant form. It was about a third larger than life, and six skinny, noodle-fed students set to work.

Soon, the whole body was exposed to view. Lying on its side, they surveyed a naked white body, standing on a pedestal. Its legs were crossed for balance. Both arms were raised above the head, twisted back. The eyes peered onwards, far into the distance as if they did not care about the thing that the man was about to strike.

“Look at the belly,” gasped Engel. “Vastly disgorged and hanging over the waist. What does it mean, do you think?”

“The figure displays both male and female characteristics,” said Rouhani. “This deity is clearly pregnant, representing the god’s power both to destroy, by striking with this weapon in his hands, and to create, via the act of childbirth.”

“Ah!” said Engel. “And why is the statue … unclothed … do you think?”

“Tut tut, I would have thought that was obvious,” said Rouhani, pushing her blue sunglasses onto her forehead. “This is clearly a late twentieth, early twenty-first century figure. We know that because it has come from an area that was inhabited until about 2050, when this whole area was submerged by waters coming from the melting polar ice caps.”

At the word ‘ice caps’, all the research students gave a wistful sigh. Rouhani peered at them in a circumspect manner.

“Think. Late twentieth, early twenty-first century. What else does that signify?”

A girl with pinched cheeks replied, “wasn’t that the time of the Internet?”

“Very good,” said Rouhani. “It’s all been deleted now, but at that time, people were obsessed with ‘the Net’, as some referred to it. This was a time when people would spend hours poring over images of the naked human form, especially that of complete strangers. This statue of a wrathful hermaphroditic pregnant moon god is one reflection of that.”

“Do you mean to say,” the student asked, “that at the same time that global warming and climate change was starting to run out of control, people spent all their time looking for photos of each other’s bottoms?”

“More or less,” Rouhani replied.

“This is the archeological find of the century!” cried Engel at last. He could barely stop himself scribbling down everyone else’s ideas. He was sure that his paper would be the first to be published, and that that long-desired professorship would be in his grasp at last.

(c) Alastair Savage 2016