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Classical Archaeology

A reader says, "I've enjoyed all of the Order of the Air books, but I miss the classical archaeology from the first one. When is Jerry going to do some classical archaeology again?"

In Oath Bound! You will like it, because Jerry's major plot is his dig in Alexandria! I am so excited writing Oath Bound because I get to write Alexandria again.

Here's a little piece:



It was late afternoon, the sun already obscured behind the five story apartment building, when a digger let out a cry. Jerry's head had risen a split second earlier at the scrape of steel on stone, a shovel against something other than dirt.

"I have found something!" the digger shouted, and Jerry hoisted himself to his feet with effort. Willi was ahead of him, all the other diggers crowding in, milling about in the only excitement in the last three days.

"Let Dr. Ballard through," Willi said. "Come now. Clear a path."

It was the trench nearest the building, six feet deep, and leaning over the edge cautiously Jerry could see nothing except dirt in the bottom.

"Here, now," he said in Arabic. "Everyone give the man room. Let him clear." If everybody jumped into the trench nobody would be able to do anything. He leaned on his cane at the edge, eager as anyone to see. Would it be a building block? Or better yet the solid sandstone that might be the Pylon of Isis itself?

The digger began clearing with shovel before young Ibrahim Hussein jumped down beside him with a trowel and brush, heedless of his good black suit. Behind him the others crowded up. "What is it? What is it?"

"Stone," Ibrahim called up, entirely unnecessarily as they already knew that. Beneath his deft hands a surface was emerging, square paving stones each about the size of Jerry's hand set in mortar.

"It's the Roman street," Jerry said.

Willi looked at him sharply.

"The shape of the cobbles," Jerry said. He gestured with his cane. "Square cobbles without rounded corners. Those are Roman, not Ptolemaic."

Ibrahim glanced up from the bottom of the trench. "Shall we clear to the edges?"

"Yes," Jerry said. "Let's see if we can find the curb. That will orient us on the axis of the street. It will tell us if this is a north/south street or an east/west one."

"And if the curb isn't within the boundaries of the trench?" Willi asked. "This is the end trench closest to the building."

"Then we clear the trench just north of it down to the same depth," Jerry said. "If that's Roman pavement too, we've got a north/south street. If it's not, then this is an east/west street paralleling the Canopic Way but a few blocks north of it." He lifted his head, the setting sun touching his face beneath the brim of his hat. "Which is what I think it is."

He couldn't say why. It simply felt right, right in his bones. This was an east/west street north of the Canopic Way and south of the Brucheum, the first city walls that enclosed only the Royal Quarter in Roman times. But where did that put the Pylon of Isis? Orienting to the old grid of city streets was all very well, but that didn't find the landmark they sought. Was the Pylon of Isis north or south of this street? Was this the street that ran in front of it or behind it?

The sun winked, dipping behind the roof of a neighboring building. Scents of food cooking rose in the evening air, women preparing the meals that would break the fast after nightfall. It was almost time to stop work for the day.

Ibrahim stood up. "We won't get this clear before sunset," he said. "Shall I pay the finder and tell the men to cease?"

"Yes," Jerry said. "And tomorrow we'll get the next trench to the same depth."

Willi jumped down into the trench with a roll of oiled cloth to spread over the exposed stones on the bottom though the chances of rain looked nil. This was not like the dig in Hawaii where they'd dealt with torrential rains.

"Tomorrow we'll see where we are."

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( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
tricksterquinn
Oct. 16th, 2014 04:06 am (UTC)
I like this very much. It glows.
jo_graham
Oct. 16th, 2014 01:16 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )