The Dig

What does M. Kelly Peach unearth in “The Dig”?

Writing By M. Kelly Peach

The Dig

         “…Flight of the curving and aureate arrows and spears of the Amuzun
Warriors. Smiling, they bravely do battle for dominance over their
Dauntless opponents, the Disnaeus. Bloodied but glorious, giving no
Quarter and taking no quarter, they clash in perpetual warfare…”
The Laiad by Woltt, final fragment of Book 23 (the concluding Books have never been found), translated from the original Proto-Amric by Mauris Mirlyn.

The shade from a half-dozen large tarps erected over the excavation units was a blessing. So were the occasional breezes blowing in from the Pacific Ocean twenty kilometers to the west. Still, it was like working in a wood-fired oven as the mid-day sun blazed down from the cloudless summer sky. 

The dig site, located on the west end of the Monga Valley and surrounded by the Sabardo Mountains, had yielded nothing of archaeological importance. Uncovered were some red shards of Solo Cup, shreds of white Hefty, and a nicely preserved Oral-B toothbrush, many of its bristles still intact. The Chief Archaeologist checked the artifacts log.

Good, the grad students and volunteers were following instructions and carefully listing each find. Her department head at Lominda University, Professor Timon, had warned her she needed to find something valuable, something of historical significance, or this would be her last dig. And she could forget about any chance at tenure. 

She had a good feeling about this one. This is the dig, said her gut. This was where she would find proof that the Amuzuns and Disnaeans actually existed and weren’t merely the stuff of myths, the product of the great poet Woltt’s incomparable imagination.

She took a drink from her canteen, the water as warm as tea. With this heat and the dry air of the Mauve Desert, it was important to stay hydrated.  She looked at the trench in Unit Three. It was already four meters deep and the stratigraphy was at Horizon L, well into the Plastic Age.

The wall profile was perfect. Her grad student Elsa, on her knees brushing at something barely protruding from the edge of the wall and trench floor, did fine work. She’d have to keep an eye on that one. The pretty blonde with lovely blue eyes had the potential to be a superb archaeologist.

“Elsa, take a break. Come up and have some water.”

Engrossed in her digging, nose within a foot of whatever she was cleaning carefully with her brush, she replied, “Okay, Professor. Be there in just a minute,” She set the brush down and took the trowel from her belt to begin meticulously scraping away the dirt from the object.


Several days later, the Chief summoned her husband to the dig site. He was also a professor at LU. Ancient American History was his specialty.  Her team had discovered something big. She tried to be professional on the call but the thrill in her voice gave away her excitement. As soon as he finished his lecture on American Pre-Plastic Culture, he grabbed his boots, water bottle, and wide-brimmed hat and hurried out to the desert.

His wife heard the hum of his ground car and ran out to greet him. The smile on her face was radiant. Her eyes sparkled with the same happiness as the day they were married. As he stopped the vehicle, she threw open the door and took his hand. He barely had time to snatch his hat and water bottle as she dragged him from the car.

Pulling him towards Unit Three, she exclaimed, “They’re real, darling! I told you they were!”

“Who is real?”

“The Amuzuns and Disneans.”

He whistled low, muttering his favorite expression of surprise passed down to him from his grandfather, “Wally wah.” Louder, he said, “You finally found your proof, didn’t you?”

“Yes! And it is incontrovertible.”

“You’re sure?”

As they moved under a tarp, she grabbed two flashlights from a table and gave one to her husband.

“You’ll see.” They were at the edge of the trench. “Climb in with me and have a look.”

She clambered down the ladder quickly. He followed cautiously.

A hollowed-out space at the bottom of the wall profile was braced with a framework of sturdy wooden beams and lit, rather poorly, by a nearby lantern. Lying in the space were two human skeletons, extremely well-preserved because of the desert’s aridity. They were close together with their hands clutching each other’s throat. They had died strangling each other.

The Chief Archaeologist played the beam of her flashlight along the bones of the  skeleton on the left, stopping at the femur. Mixed in with the leg bones was a slightly corroded military-style knife with a seven-inch blade.

“The grads and volunteers are calling this one King Waler. Look at the gash on the right femur.”

Her husband joined his beam of light with hers and immediately saw the ancient wound. “Mmm, yes.”

“Look at the knife.”

Their light illuminated the knife’s pommel. It was inscribed with a faded yellow curving arrow with the arrowhead disconnected from the shaft: the symbol of the Amuzuns.

Eyes widened in wonder, he whispered, “The Amuzuns.”

She switched her beam to the other. “This, of course, would be King Bezus. Look at the bones of his ribcage and the survival knife.”

 A bottom right rib showed a deep cut obviously made by the knife next to it. The hilt of the knife showed a black circle with two smaller black ovoids attached at what would be ten and two on a clock face: the symbol of the Disneans.

“It’s not legend. They existed! I’m so proud of you. You’re sure to get your tenure now.”

As they hugged, he asked, “Arielle, who do you think won the war?”

She replied, “I’m sure it was the Amuzuns, Mickey. I’ll stake my professional reputation on it!”

About the Author

M. Kelly Peach bakes bread and takes his meds. Recent loaves include Buttermilk and Potato. Recent meds include Prozac and Atorvastatin. His author’s website is; Twitter is @MichaelPeach. He has work forthcoming in Suicid(al)iens, The Lovers Literary Journal, 2023 UP Reader, Calliope, and Once Upon a Crocodile.

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