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Sand and Clay

24 Sep 2017 14:53 #1 by ARLewis
ARLewis ► Sand and Clay
Sand and Clay

I spend a lot of time with various books and older documents, deciphering ancient texts, and bringing the details to the world at large. As it should be. A fellow “student” of mine spends most of his time with dirt, sand and dust, hence why I almost never see him in the documents lab. Although he has brought me some interesting tidbits that he himself could not decipher before. He’s an archeologist.

I am both a much better typist and have better handwriting than he does, so he’s asked me to transcribe, and in some cases decipher, his latest batch of notes. (actually, I think he asked me to so he could head back out on a dig…in this world or the Afterlife, I couldn’t really guess). This current batch of notes is from a find in the Afterlife, though. How he comes back as dirty from there as he does from any other archy dig is beyond me.

Notes of September 4th:
I’d love to give proper times and dates with my notes and in the real world, I always do, as any good scientist would. However, when dealing with the Afterlife, time seems to be a wee bit different than the “real world” so to speak. I can’t say for certain if time moves faster or slower in the Afterlife, but that is almost not truly relevant. I am only able to truly date stamp my notes as to when I enter the Afterlife. One thing is for certain, while some time has passed in the Afterlife, or at least our interpretation of time, how and why things happened here are vastly overshadowed by when.

As for this journey, I made my way to a place I heard about a week or so before. And ever since I did, haven’t been able to think of much else. Well, to be honest, I saw a rendering of a place and thought I might have been there in this life, but too much was different from what I remembered.
I’ve been to many deserts and ruins therein quite often in my relatively short life so far, the one known as the Windswept Desert was not truly different than any of those. But the richness of this place had me even before I went there. (the artist’s rendering was that captivating). I was used to desert heat and this place was again, no different. What caught my imagination first and foremost was the vast area of Aztecan like pottery.

One of the first pieces I found I actually saved from being stepped on by a careless traveler. I didn’t even know who they were but I almost screamed at them when I walked into what was the ruins of some seemingly minor building. At first I thought it was a shard of pottery, but as I cleaned it off, it was a mostly intact pot with a rather attractive corrugated appearance. The earliest pieces of pottery were made by taking coiled ropes of clay and placing them one atop the other and then pinching them together. They then smoothed the outer surface and then polished the vessel with a stone. Sometimes the potters added indentations before the firing process, and this find was a perfect example. While the greyish color wasn’t very appealing, it was still striking in the obvious effort put into it.

Around where I found that pot were bits of other pots and vessels of traditional white, grey or even brown with very little adornment. I was especially excited in this dwelling however when I discovered three stones in a triangular pattern that signified the hearth area for the dwelling. Usually there would be a large flat slab of ceramic that would reside over these stones.This is where most of the cooking would have been done. My excitement was taken over by curiosity when I found something orange sticking out of the ground near the exit of the dwelling.
This one I actually did step on and while we are avatars here, it really hurt. When I calmed myself back down, I dug out the shard out of the sand and dirt for further examination. Aztecean pottery didn’t achieve the traditional black and orange until around the height of the empire. I cleaned the shard off with some water and confirmed it was indeed orange with black accents. What the original vessel was used for was impossible to tell, but I could tell that it was made not by strips of clay but by a spinning/turning process before the normal pottery wheel was used.

As I was studying the shard further, my eye caught sight of something in the sand not too far away from the dwelling. After a bit of sand sifting, it turned out to be the top portion of what was a jar to hold water. The piece of clay was the elongated neck and the rounded top of the jug. Once rinsed off, it was a striking orange with the top part of some design. I began to sift around, being careful of course so as to not break anything nearby, and discovered more orange and black pottery shards, but these had the faded signs of age all upon them. I pulled out a large white cloth and on a hunch began to gather all of the pieces I could find in the general vicinity. I didn’t have any glue on me at the time, but I would have sworn that the pieces could have fit together to make a single large jug. I could even make out the scene depicted on the jug…a path by a river, with what appeared to be a flying serpent.

The flying serpent didn’t amaze me at all actually. The statue of Quetzalcoatl was off in the distance and I expected to find such symbolism prevalent in the area. But to see him depicted in a water scene is what confused me as he is an “air” god. What confused me even further however was that a small handful of pieces of the water jug appeared to be as “new” as the top I found but all of the rest were of aged variety. The difference in time staggered me.

The more I looked around the area, I began to see things I didn’t seem to see in my casual walk about, for which I chastised myself later. Here and there were various piles of shards of pottery. Not anything neatly placed mind you. But none the less, piles of what could have been whole examples of Aztecan pottery from different ages. In more than one case, the example of the mystery of the water jug with pieces of the same pot but as if made in different time periods.
Even in various time periods, it would not be uncommon to find broken pottery in “neighborhoods” so to speak as ever 52 years or so personal belongings and household items would simply be tossed out, literally and new replacements made. But to see different ages represented would be a bit out of the norm.

Notes of September 6th:
It is clearly the same “village” that I am in, but the farther I get from where I found the water jug, the more different oddities I discover in style and make of pottery. I should clarify. The general “style” so to speak stayed the same for one could easily tell the difference from something made by an Aztec, Mayan, or even Southwest Indian. But the quality of the pots and vessels dramatically increased. Not only different colors or clay were used, but also color paints were used.

One of only a small handful of intact pieces I found was a rather large plate. I’m not entirely sure what it was used for, but considering the striking image of Quetzalcoatl flying above a pyramid, my educated guess would be it has a religious significance, almost as if it could have been the centerpiece on an altar. The front of it had not even a single nick or scratch upon it, which is amazing considering I found it in a pile of sand. The backside however had multiple nicks but mainly in a localized space, as if it were routinely placed in a similar spot and position.

Around the area I found the plate, I found quite a few shards with various bright colors and shapes. Most I found were also obviously made with a potter’s wheel. The craftsmanship was exquisite. I kept branching out from the area I refer to as “plate home” and discovered more dwellings but these were in much better condition and had better made pottery than the jug as well. This continued to confuse me as the “rich” or “religious” did not ever really dwell near the “poor” or lower classes. There were no obvious former palace structures anywhere at all, but it is unprecedented to find any poor area near the rich.

Notes from September 8th:
I’ve started to examine a possible layout of the “city” that may have been here and confirmed that the poor area may have been only a small smattering of buildings while the rest were at the very least better cared for. But all around the area, except near the “jug home”, a higher class did live. Not necessarily affluent or filthy rich so to speak, but definitely more well off.

One aspect did seem to be prevalent in the entire area however. The more I pieced together pieces from various piles of pottery around the zone, I began to find more and more instances of what could be examples of eagle warriors, which were an elite group of warriors who were the bravest and strongest of noble birth. Of all Aztec warriors, they were the most feared. But they also accepted commoners. These finds explained why there would be such a difference in classes in the pottery found in the area.

What is disturbed me most was a pile of pottery shards I found farthest away from the “plate home”. I cannot be positive what it was used for, but when “pieced” together, it was not a plate by any means. For it was not a solid flat piece. It appeared at first to be a large sun plaque, work with a central face with panels around it signifying the great periods in Aztec history. However, it depicted a rather ornate carving, with solid bright colors, especially reds and greens, of jaguar tearing apart or at least striking down a winged serpent. I can’t be certain of anything with this piece as it appears not to have been broken in a natural way, as if dropped or thrown. No, this piece appeared to have been smashed as if in great anger or rage. I could almost feel the violent emotions the more I pieced it together. When I stood up once to get a better look at the whole piece, I nearly stomped on it myself.

Notes from September 11th:
I almost tossed away my pottery map of the area as the more I thought explored, the more things seemed to shift. I’d find the same piles or shards here and there alright, but in the back of my mind, I felt as if something didn’t want the area explained…as if the more bits of clay I uncovered and pieced together, the more “something” didn’t want to be found. I still have my pottery map somewhere as my academic nature wouldn’t part with it, but I can’t ever seem to keep it a part of my notes.

This desert is a rich find for those with even a passing interest in Aztec pottery. The different in colors and styles is striking, but so are the different “ages” presented.
This trip has felt as if it was a final summary of my exploration of the area. I hadn’t found anything strikingly new or out of the ordinary. I found new pieces, for certain. I did find a few new piles as discarded pottery as I would expect to. But nothing that really screamed out that needed to be documented, as if the entire area was saying good bye for now.
That is until I was about to leave today.

It was not near a dwelling by any means, at least not one currently identifiable as such. It was out in the middle of a wide open area. I thought it was a bottle at first. But when carefully dug out, it was almost the shape of a football with a narrow opening spout opening in the middle. Upon cleaning it off, I discovered it was in the shape of a large fish. The pottery clay itself was, when it was first made, jet black, but the carvings all around depicted a rather bloated fish. It had 2 raised ridges on either side of the mouth of the bottle, almost as if it could have been carried on a rope or string. Was this “bottle” used for water or possibly even involved in medicinal purposes I could not right say. But I had not discovered anything else like it in all of my travels here so far.

I tried to clean it out by pouring water inside of it and swishing it around and eventually heard something solid moving around inside. After more water and pouring back out, I eventually coaxed out a very small figurine. It was a winged serpent. I glanced up the statue of Quetzalcoatl and even though it was so far away, I could see a resemblance, almost as if it was a miniature of him. I almost placed it in my pocket when my eyes caught the eagle head formation at the edge of the plateau. I suddenly felt very afraid and almost dropped the fish. I gently put the figurine back in the fish jug and put the jug back into the sand where I found it. It seemed right.

Maybe I’ll go back and study it more. Was there a great water source there at some point? Who knows. More to study I guess.

End of notes.

My own voice this time:
I realize as I was compiling these notes that my voice seems to be coming through rather than his. I truly apologize for that. I hate sand. I hate the desert. I rarely go to the beach. Give me a pool any day. But next time, he should write out his own notes and maybe his voice will shine through.


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