Had a busy day today, but sitting down to write another big block of this was part of it.
Cleaning the Shackleton Object was… unusual. I felt obscurely horrible while it was done, as if we had thrown away all the delicacy of the last two centuries, and gone right back to tomb-breaking with dynamite. I could almost feel the disapproving glares of the ghosts of generations of careful, meticulous archeologists, mutely wondering how we could have forgotten their teachings.
The answer is, Because we have gravity pulse generators and full-spectrum scanners now. Not that we have the slightest idea how to make them, or even maintain them. The theory is beyond even the wildest speculations of our physicists, and they’ve learned to be very careful not to burn out their best minds on understanding Amalgamation science. We still have them, though, and we understand what they can do.
One of the things that they can do is analyze a site’s ground cover, not quite down to the molecular level, but at a degree beyond which we could manage, with a perfect picture of every loose item’s composition and location. The software can even calculate each item’s movement within the soil — or, in this case, snow and ice — which would then offer us decent hints about how those items got there in the first place. We’re careful about disturbing the ground because we don’t want to lose any clues through clumsiness or haste. But what if going quickly doesn’t matter? Why take extra time when you honestly don’t need it?
Then there’s the pulse generators. No delicate brush is better at cleaning an artifact, no bulldozer is better at clearing away cover — and the generator is both at once, able to sweep away detritus while preserving items of actual interest at the same time. There’s no extra damage, either. Not even the kind you inevitably get from pulling something out of a dig site, or simply brushing it.
You know what it’s like? These aren’t archeological tools, except only incidentally. They’re sorcerous implements, and we’ve been taught the charms that activate them.