The Archaeology Students
By Douglas E. Gogerty
"Are you ready for the upcoming archaeological dig?"
"Am I? I thought it would never come! If I hear internal strife caused the downfall one more time..."
"Don't you like these traveling classes?"
"It is the slow boats that get me."
"Well, we're almost to the site. Thank goodness they installed this train or it could be another couple of days."
"I cannot imagine how long it would take a sail barge to cross the desert."
"If this place's infrastructure were still in tact, we could have gone by some electric vehicle."
"There just is not enough reason rebuild it yet."
"If it were important, they would develop a faster form of transportation."
"You know, in ancient times..."
"Uh oh, here we go."
"Here you go with your flying machines again."
"It is true. You have read the literature. They had all kinds of flying machines. They had airplanes and flying contraptions we don't even have words for anymore. They put jetpacks and flying cars in so many of their stories that they had to have something along those lines too. They at least had to be looking, and perhaps they were close!"
"Yeah -- well -- internal strife caused their downfall."
"Kidding! I was just kidding! However, you know from our class that they were very reluctant to use clean renewable energy sources. They went to war for their fuel needs. This caused a great deal of problems for them."
"Them? Problems for them? What about us?"
"True, we don't have speedy transportation, and we must take those boats you love some much and other forms of transportation to get to distance places -- like here."
"They had airplanes. They could travel half way around the world in half a day. It takes us weeks."
"True, but we are not burning fossil fuels or polluting the environment."
"Blah blah blah! I've been dreaming of flying for a long time."
"You know, an ancient dream analysis specialist said that dreams of flight were actually dreams about sex."
"I am familiar with Dr. Freud. He also said that sometimes a cigar was just a cigar."
"Perhaps when you dream about sex, you're actually dreaming about flying."
"You're hysterical -- you should go on the comedy circuit sometime."
"So tell me, why did you sign up for this class anyway? You're majoring in what -- engineering?"
"Engineers can have other interests. I came on this trip to see if there is anything to be found out about their flying machines. We have some of their technology, but what technology has been lost? Did they have jetpacks or flying cars?"
"You took this class to find evidence of flying machines?"
"Sure! This was one of the most advanced civilizations on earth at one time. Any city of theirs is probably rich in technological history. If they had some specialized flying technology, I'll find it."
"What good will it do you? They used up all of the fuels they had."
"I wish I had a time machine and tell them not to waste all of it. They could have saved some for future generations."
"Well, as you are well aware, time-travel is impossible. In any event, those fuels would have run out at some point anyway."
"I know. Perhaps I'll find some of their work on alternative energy sources. They did do that you know."
"True, but they got in that game too late to save them. They spent all of their money and resources on obtaining their particular fuels. They had wars. They borrowed money. Before they could fix those problems, other places were well ahead of them technology-wise. This caused internal strife -- and you know the rest."
"Boring -- boring -- and -- boring!"
"Like engineering classes are any better."
"Point taken. I just wish the class covered more about their technology. Just because it was an ancient civilization, doesn't mean they didn't know things."
"Like how to make airplanes?"
"Exactly! We know they had many sophisticated technologies. Just because their culture is dead does not mean it is useless."
"The entire hemisphere was practically unlivable for centuries!"
"So some of their sophisticated technology involved weaponry..."
"It was not only their weapons that doomed them. Their burning of fuels also severely damaged their ecosystem."
"Not everything died, some things survived."
"Let us hope we do not run into some of those surviving creatures. I hear they have a rodent that lives underground and can skeletonize a large animal in seconds."
"Land piranhas are a myth."
"Is that what they call them? I have always heard them called Chihuahuas or prairie dogs or some such."
"Anyway, on the good side of things, their cities are fantastically preserved."
"I wonder how long they'll stay this way now that they are habitable again."
"If we had planes..."
"Enough of the airplanes. Anyway, we do have plenty of space for our needs right now."
"The scary Chihuahuas will keep the interlopers at bay."
"I am telling you, this civilization's technology was awfully good to do what it did."
"Heavy on the awful. They nearly destroyed every living thing on earth. It is lucky that life is so flexible."
"Or, we wouldn't be here."
"They probably did not realize the folly of their actions because of the internal..."
"Very funny. In any event, we're here at last."