Beneath the Rising Sun
The wind blew across the sandy plain, stirring up small vortexes of dust.
Under the hot, Nevada sun, a team of paleontologists was hard at work, uncovering the bones of a dinosaur. It was the discovery of a lifetime for a paleontologist. An Apatosaurus, one of the largest dinosaurs, was slowly being removed, bone by bone, from the dry, desert soil.
In a trench, attached to the network of trenches that comprised the dig, Justin Brown, 32, hunched over the tip of a sunken object, carefully scooping the dirt away with a small spade. The dust came up in small puffs as he stopped digging to sweep dirt from the surface of the object.
“Find anything interesting, Justin?”
The voice had a curious tone to it and despite the many men and women at the dig, Justin knew who it was.
Without turning, Justin shook his head and continued removing dirt. Think of the value of this find. In a few months he would own that red Mercedes he always wanted. The Smithsonian had a special interest in dinosaurs, especially large sauropods. They would pay a high price to any team that could bring in a complete sauropod skeleton.
“Not really; just another bone,” Justin replied.
The woman was in her mid-twenties. Brunette. Average height.
“Is that what you think of archeology?” She teased.
“No,” Justin turned. “I enjoy it. But when its 96 degrees out and your knees are killing you, it begins to loose its appeal.”
“Justin, this dig will add a whopping plus to our salary.”
Justin was quiet. He gazed at the ground in shock, dropping his brush.
“What is it, Justin? What did you find?” Rachel Hall took a step closer to look at Justin’s discovery and covered her mouth with her hand as she let out a gasp.
Sand fell off the edge of a white, rectangular block, which was shaped like a table, as Justin and five other men attempted to lift it into a padded van.
“Careful. Don’t drop it.” Rachel cautioned as the men grunted under the weight.
In the newly established Carson City Archaeological Institution laboratory, sealed in an airtight, plexiglass box, the white block rested. The door to the lab opened and shut, almost in the same instant. A man in a white lab coat gazed at the specimen. Justin had waited two days to see it again. Forty-eight hours. Two-thousand eight-hundred eighty minutes. One-hundred seventy-two-thousand eight-hundred seconds.
Protocol required that all new specimens were to remain in ‘safe locations’, to undergo testing for possible radioactive hazards and to determine how brittle or strong they were. Now, Justin had the permission to examine the object he found.
The door opened again and a woman walked into the lab.
“Hey, Rachel.” Justin said.
“Are we going to see your discovery now—that anomaly?”
Justin turned the key to unlock the sealed container. As the lid smoothly hinged up, both archaeologists moved their hands, almost simultaneously, toward the white stone block.
Rachel giggled slightly. “Beat you to it.”
Her gloved hand was resting on the corner of the block.
“I found it.” Justin said with a twinkle in his eye.
“Well, enough horsing around. I think this treasure needs a thorough examination.” Rachel reached for a powerful magnifying lens.
In the bulbous circle of glass a trench appeared. Rachel moved the magnifying lens a few centimeters away from the surface of the white block and the trench resolved into a line that formed part of an alphabetical character. Words appeared. A strange language.
“I am not a linguist, Justin, but these characters appear to be a type of cuneiform.”
“Cuneiform,” Justin said as he stared at what appeared to be a relatively smooth surface. “Whoever wrote that cuneiform must have had small hands and sharp pencils.”
“I think Dr. Hammersmith should take a look at this.” Rachel said.
“I think he’s going to examine it today.” Justin remarked.
“Indeed, my boy, this is a type of Sumerian cuneiform.” Dr. Archibald Hammersmith gripped the magnifying glass tightly; sweat moistened the handle.
“Cuneiform. Isn’t that what the ancient Mesopotamians used?” Justin asked.
The professor of ancient languages didn’t respond. He mumbled and sniffed the air like a hound on a scent.
“Could you read the Sumerian for us?” Rachel leaned closer to the professor. “Please?”
“Eh, what’s that?” Archibald grunted, raising his glasses that had slipped down his nose.
“Could you read the Sumerian cuneiform for us, please?” Rachel repeated, slightly annoyed.
The elderly professor grunted, sat up in his seat, and sniffed. “I guess so. But this language isn’t exactly Sumerian. It appears to be more ancient than that. Strangely though, this plaque appears to be composed of some type of metal. I didn’t think that metalwork was done prior to the Mesopotamian civilization.”
“What civilization could be more ancient than Mesopotamia?” Justin wondered.
“Atlantis.” The professor replied evenly.
“Surely you don’t believe that myth of Homer?” Justin replied.
A slight, almost imperceptible smile crossed Archibald’s face....
Unfortunately, this book is not yet available. This is just a sample of some of Joel's other writings. Thank you for taking the time to read it.