My Wife As An Archaeologist And Artist

Walking along the beach, some look at the waves, others at the sunset. My wife looks at the sand, and finds sea shells and more.

One time she saw what looked like a small piece of burnt wood sticking out of the wet sand. She dug it out. It was a skeleton of the lower jaw of a horse. That was on the beach in Oceanside, California.

She wanted to take it to the museum. She thought it might be some ancient fossil from the sea.

One time we were in the mountains of southern France and she found sea shells there. “Impossible”, I said. I looked up the history of the place. I was wrong. Anciently it was part of a greatly expanded Mediterranean Sea.

One time she was planting in our front yard in Palos Verdes, a peninsula community on the Southern California coastline, and dug up an ancient Indian arrowhead.

About twelve years ago, we built a home in the upper avenues of Salt Lake City. Our property is a third of an acre that has a lot of contours to it. During the spring, summer and fall, my wife spends considerable time planting and replanting flowers, bushes, and small trees.

It’s a rocky piece of terrain. No matter how many rocks you remove, there are always new ones coming up. This has been an endless source of discovery for my wife.

She’s constantly finding interesting rocks resembling ancient cutting tools, etc. other times, however, her finds are harder to determine what they are.

She’s convinced we live on top of an ancient dwelling site, just twelve blocks above downtown Salt Lake City. I’ve come to trust my wife’s eye for discovery, because I’ve seen evidence of it throughout our entire married life.

Nevertheless, I started studying the area where we live now:

Five hundred million years ago the Salt Lake Valley was covered by Lake Bonneville.

230 million years ago, parts of southern and eastern Utah were chuck full of dinosaurs.

A one and a half million year old ox musk skull was found in downtown Salt Lake City in 1871.

Indians, called Desert Gatherers, roamed the area as early as 9000 BC. The “diggers” as they were called were using advanced techniques learned from the Anasazi Indians between 500 AD and 1300 AD. They disappeared after that period.

Timpanogos Ute and Goshute Indian tribes controlled the Salt Lake Valley as late as the nineteenth century.

After that, the Mormons settled here and are presently the prominent tribe.

As mentioned before, living twelve blocks above downtown Salt Lake City we have an excellent view of the entire valley.

Could there be ancient stuff on our property? Hard to argue against it. That’s what my wife seems to be digging up.

But, I also think something else is going on in her head. Besides discovering ancient artifacts, she also seems to be coaxing images out from the rocks like artists do. Michelangelo saw images in marble and brought them forward with chisel. Twenty thousand year old French cave art was drawn by people who perceived certain formations on the contours of the walls and used them to draw animal shapes that have a three dimensional quality to them.

I think my wife is bringing forward two things: real artifacts that 99.9% of humanity just walk over never noticing, and patterns in rocks that when observed closely enough can with paint and chisel turn into works of art.

My front, side and back yards are full of both.