THE STELE

MMIX

ARTIFACT SERIES

In early January, 1991, an expedition of archeologists fronted by the much lauded C. Wollys uncovered a peculiar artifact at a small excavation site south of the Euphrates city Al Nasiriah, Iraq, en route between ancient sites of Uruk and Ur. The artifact itself was about 5 feet high, 3 feet wide, and no thicker than a door, itself buried beneath aeons of sand and rubble, distant enough from all other ruins so as not to be assumed related. The artifact stood parallel to the Zargos Mountains in the distant north, across the twining rivers. The peculiar feature about this artifact is that it was a single slab of limestone carved with many intricate perforations and small interlocking tunnels that, once emptied of sand, formed a nearly incomprehensible network of miniature labyrinthine passages. Though the object was utterly sinuous, one could not see through any of the tunnels, at any angles by the forbearance of complexity. The stele otherwise had no other symbols or immediately apparent relations, as the stone by which it was cast could have been cast in a distant mine on the far side of the river Eurphrates.

Perplexed, the archeologists at once set to work at analyzing the particular angular arrangements and obscure geometric corridors, hoping to find some astral alignment or an indication of a ritualistic purpose for the artifact. Radio-chromatographic studies revealed that the object predated the Sumarian empire by two thousand years, and was composed of stone that could have traveled all the way from the western cliffs of Ireland.

By the third week of January, the expedition team was forfeit of the task, when, the night before their return to Oxford with the artifact, the land was reckoned by a fearsome sandstorm – a windstorm that inadvertently revealed the otherwise obscured purpose of the monolith, if only for an eve.

As the wind rushed eastward, then south, it blew through the minute passages woven of compacted sand, which in turn created an unprecedented range of harmonics, melodies, and vague percussive impressions. The team, awestruck by the cacophonic array, scrambled to preserve the fleeting windsong with whatever spare tape recorder they had around. By the time the night passed, the few that had not fallen into a confounded rapture compiled the recordings (appended) and hastily returned to the University with the artifact.

Unfortunately, when The Stele was removed from its original habitat to be observed in laboratory conditions, it quickly disintegrated into naught but a pile of unspeaking sand, once windswept, now silent, save for the auditory relic here presented. –JONAS DOELGER, 2014