I had reason to visit our local suburban museum the other day. As I have been accused by some to being somewhat uncultured I decided to spend an hour or so looking around and educating myself in matters which will stand me in good stead in future cultured surroundings.
Here’s what I learnt:
In a large room at the museum there was a collection of various dinosaurs’ skeletons big and small with unpronounceable names such as leptospirosis and tri-cycle-steps; and they all had small labels with the dates of their various ages. One skeleton had no label so I asked the attendant in that room how old it was.
He replied with confidence “It is 230 million years and 9 months and 3 weeks old, Sir.”
“That’s very precise,” I said in amazement.
“Yes Sir,” he said, “I have been working here for 9 months and 3 weeks and it was 230 million years old when I started.”
Now that’s something I didn’t know.
I then moved on to another room which had a lot of human skeletons and different bone parts collected from various places in the world. On a table there were two skulls – a small one and a larger one. The labels both read “Skull of Ivan Eyefull - Marco Polo’s bodyguard”.
I asked the attendant to explain and he told me that one skull belonged to the bodyguard when he was a child and the other when he was a grown man.
It was fortunate that both were found by the same archaeologist in the same excavations in the desert where Marco Polo had a picnic and his bodyguard choked on a fishbone stuck in his throat.
I was amazed at what archaeologists can learn from just a pile of bones. They must be really clever with all their knowledge and research.
The museum attendant, who had knowledge written all over him, (some jokers had done it with permanent ink), told me a story I'll never forget ... You'll probably never forget it too.
He said that an archaeologist was digging in the Negev Desert in Israel and came upon a casket containing a mummy. After opening it carefully he recognised it straight away and he phoned the curator of a prestigious natural history museum. "We've just discovered a 3,000 year old mummy of a man who died of heart failure!"
The curator of the museum quickly sent a team to collect the mummy for thorough examination.
A week later, the amazed curator called the archaeologist. "You were right about the mummy's age and cause of death. How in the world did you know it was heart failure?"
"Simple ... there was a piece of paper in his hand that said - 'put me down for 10,000 Shekels on Goliath'."
I also discovered something else when visiting our local museum:
Statistics of marriages and divorces over the years show that archaeologists make the best spouses. The older you get the more interested they are in you.