Forum: Prospective Challenges

Discussing: The Archaeological AU Challenge

The Archaeological AU Challenge

Sorry, I couldn't think up a spiffy name this time, so I settled on one that might suck people in just because it looks odd. The proposal:

Tolkien took on the persona of a scholar unearthing and translating a set of texts: the Quenta Silmarillion and The Red Book. I would like to extend this conceit further.

As anyone knows, historical texts can be very slippery. There are several "Gospels" that didn't for some reason make the cut for the Bible; there are the Dead Sea Scrolls that testify to the life and beliefs of a sect of Judaism beyond mainstream Judaism; there are fragments of official documents about the life of Pontius Pilate; there are tax records that tell us something about what the nobility of mediaeval England actually could demand of the peasantry. There are personal diaries and official chronologies, suppressed works (The Mirror of Simple Souls) and sometimes copyists of Bibles and other texts would include hilarious marginal (and totally personal) notes. And to my everlasting frustration, most of Aristotle's major public works were lost.

So what's to say there aren't dozens of these sorts of 'records'—records internal to Middle-earth's history—floating about that Tolkien the textual archaeologist didn't have (but might have seen references to—like a very famous but unfortunately lost work of Maglor, or *self indulgent flattery* Carandir's text on persuasion that also uses 'real' examples of 'persuasion' that occurred during the Kinstrife of Gondor), or else didn't include? If only we had access to them, what sorts of different takes on the stories of "The Lord of the Rings" or "The Tale of the Children of Húrin" (for example) might we have?

That's the basic idea. Here's the 'how to' part:

I envision two groups:

Group One would be writing up these pseudo historical documents and posting them to HA Writers as a sort of central storage location: our very own compiled "Red Book" as it were. They could write anything that the authors felt could realistically challenge the "dominant" canonical text. This is why I made a cattle call onlist to historians, classicists, museum workers, and "random folks who know something of information transmission over the centuries" who would have some idea of what sorts of things *tend* to be preserved, and how to read them. That way, they can realistically reverse engineer us some documents.

People in this group could create complete documents or ones that are fragments, to imitate damage by time. If someone were really ambitious, s/he could even have someone draw a picture (maybe a 'photograph' of the fragmentary remains of Arwen's greatest tapestry, for example). I would like to try and limit this group, however, because we don't need thousands of documents—I somehow doubt the members of group two want to play archaeologist *that* badly. :-)


Group Two, then, would take up these jigsaw puzzle pieces provided by Group One (as many as they liked, though perhaps some lower limit could be set, e.g., at least two) and organize them into some sort of coherent picture. They would then compare what they have with the original works Tolkien provided us, and then use those fake documents to write a 'historically based' AU to the original stories (complete with documentation). One could also conceivably take on a scholar persona and write about why, for example, one ought to read X into the Red Book, due to A, B, C bits of evidence, though I don't know how many people would want to do this.

I was also thinking that if anyone with HoME volumes thought some of Tolkien's drafts (or rather, portions thereof) might be great to use in this, that we could carefully quote and cite the relevent portions, thus adding another layer of complexity to this whole project.

The upshot of this is that we would have a set of AUs that took advantage of the "found this text and translated it" conceit that Tolkien employed, and which would be very specific to HASA.

I realize this is horribly complicated sounding, but it can be done. I've been assigned something similar once before by a history teacher (although, of course, she used real historical documents), and it was a lot of fun. We had to choose a minimum of four sources out of sixteen, figure out how to put them together, and then write a creative interpretation of a nobleman's life (or a monk's life, or a peasant's life, etc.). It worked *really* well and was arguably the most fun I've ever had with an undergrad paper, which is why I think this could work for us as an AU challenge.

This would probably be at least a year-long challenge.

So what do you all think? Am I insane? (Don't answer that!) Would this be of interest? Do we have people interested in separating into Groups One and Two? (BTW, if you want to be in Group One, you may also choose afterwards to enter Group Two. Group One, though, I think would be more limited for reasons stated above.)

 

 

Re: The Archaeological AU Challenge

So what do you all think? Am I insane? (Don't answer that!)

Sorry, but I must - if you are insane, it's a brilliant insanity!

And you are absolutely correct that it would have to be a long term project if it is to be done properly.

I am most definitely interested. Coming from a family of historians/geneologists this is the sort of challenge which I simply can't resist. Some of the places we had to go to find records would simply boggle the mind, so I can imagine a number of viable scenarios.

~Nessime

 

 

Re: The Archaeological AU Challenge

So is this a Group One volunteer that I see? I've gotten a few who were crazy enough to volunteer not necessarily knowing the whole thing, so we're doing well on that end. Add another, heh heh.

Anyone else? For either half (or both) of this Challenge?

 

 

Re: The Archaeological AU Challenge

Would this go toward, perhaps, field reports of digs at sites like, say, Imladris, or the ruins of a flet preserved in a peat bog at Caras Galadhon? Or even one of those macabre bog bodies. Or a scene on a pottery sherd found at an undersea site where Gondolin used to be? Or perhaps someone opening one of the great Barrows and finding info about ancient Cardolan (I could see myself doing that one, if I could remember how to *do* an archeological field report. It's been a while)

 

 

Re: The Archaeological AU Challenge

If you think you can do it and work in something that might provide a different look at M-e, then I'd say 'yes.'

Here's my list of crazy people (provisionally--please let me know if you want your name struck from the list):

Group One

Nessime
Zimraphel
Meg Thornton
SailingToByzantium
Julie
Celandine Brandybuck

Random Interested Others (either were enthusastic about the idea or e-mailed for more info):

Alawa
Forodwaith
Starlight
Nic/paranoidangel
Flick--Third Age only

I should add: you do NOT have to commit to write pieces about an Age you don't feel very expert in. If you're strictly good with Fëanorians and want to contribute Group One docs/sources only about Fëanor et al, that's fine; likewise, if you are only familiar with the doings of the Third Age, that's fine, too. I'm sure if we do this, we'll get a mix of interests.

It is also not necessary that you always agree with each other if you are writing Group One stuff, although if you want to collaborate and work with someone else's idea to develop it, then go for it by all means. Keep in mind, though, that Group Two writers will have free reign to try and piece things together themselves--they will not use all sources available, nor will necessarily use your piece the way you'd expected it to be used.

So with that clarification, are there others interested in this little project?

 

 

Re: The Archaeological AU Challenge

I sent Jim a note to come read this - sounds right up his street.

 

 

Re: The Archaeological AU Challenge

Excellent. I really think this could be a proverbial ton of fun for the group.

 

 

Re: The Archaeological AU Challenge

It's "Zimraphel." I can't get the silly system to recognize me when I log in. And yes, I'll try something once I get a better handle on what we're doing. Probably something to do with the First Age Noldor or Third Age Cardolan, not sure yet. I will have to do some research of my own, of course.

 

 

Re: The Archaeological AU Challenge

Sounds very interesting! Count me into Group Two.

 

 

Re: The Archaeological AU Challenge

You have to be crazy? And I'm not on the list? No way! Sign me up!

Now--do we want:

tax records
artifacts(descriptions/pictures?)
correspondence

every now & then the ol' Art History degree comes in handy.

I'll give you some Third Age goodies-- from Angmar, of course.

Khazar

 

 

Re: The Archaeological AU Challenge

Righto, so we have:

Group One

Nessime
Zimraphel--either 3rd Age Cardolan or 1st Age Noldor
Meg Thornton--Bree, 3rd Age
SailingToByzantium--most likely 3rd Age
Julie
Celandine Brandybuck
Khazar--Angmar, 3rd Age

Random Interested Others (either were enthusastic about the idea or e-mailed for more info):

Alawa
Forodwaith
Starlight
Nic/paranoidangel
Flick--Third Age only
Acacea (Group Two)

Please do say "aye" or "NO WAY IN HECK!" if your name is on this list because I culled it from e-mail. If you have some particular area or time period you know you would like to write for, please list that, as it will give us a better idea of what sorts of things may be available.

 

 

Re: The Archaeological AU Challenge

As for Things That Tend To Survive:

Ceramics
Glass
Gold

For example, I would expect a Mithril crown to survive.
Gold, of course, is practically indestructable, so any gold
jewelry/sword parts/vessels would have a fighting chance.
Look at what has survived from the ancient world: if the
conditions are perfect, almost anything will make it; if not,
then only the Ceramics/Glass/Gold things will live.

I would expect that a road crew, say, might stumble upon a cache of jewelry/coins hidden under the floor of a Gondorian farmhouse, prior to the seige. Might not be much; might be substantial, depending on the wealth of the family.

Another fun one--people digging a tunnel find Moria.

Every older museum has tons of things that have never been catalogued, let alone described or displayed. Paintings thought lost forever will turn up, usually in a box that's mismarked.

Khazar

 

 

Re: The Archaeological AU Challenge

I have a couple of things I'm considering. One natural place to find artifacts would be the buriel mounds of the Rohirrim. The barrows of the kings might well be ransacked over the ages by thieves, but the buriel mounds of the lesser nobility and of the common folk could be undisturbed, especially in the more remote areas of the country.

You never know just what might be found there!

~Nessime

 

 

Re: The Archaeological AU Challenge

Random Interested Others (either were enthusastic about the idea or e-mailed for more info):

Nic/paranoidangel


Well, I e-mailed cos I didn't understand it. But having said that, it does sound quite interesting, and I was actually avoiding saying anything till you mentioned my name

I don't know enough at all to be in group 1, but I do know a little about trying to piece together stories from fragments as my mum researches family history and I've just started researching the Georgian town house I work in.

So count me in to group 2, although I only really know the 3rd age very well, at least until I read the Silmarillion in November.


Nic

 

 

Re: The Archaeological AU Challenge

Jim is not yet home from work, but I have a question - his real love is in artifacts and his first art is sculpture. (and he is much, much better versed in the first and second age than I am). Would it work if he were to sculpt things (shards, coins, bits of mosaic tiles like I dumped in the river in RoFS, whatever) and we posted photographs of them? He may insist on photographing them in place "as they were found" - (he likes modeling and dioramas.)

Just preparing myself to bite him when he gets home, since I do not have a nuzgul at hand. We would probably work as a team for group 1, since that's how we are used to working.

I want to make toys - (I have an elven pull-toy based on the dragon/snake one in the books) but he may have a different take on it. I could also get very jazzed if he wants to recreate part of a constellation mural from somewhere.

 

 

Re: The Archaeological AU Challenge


Wow ....

Insanity never looked so good!

I don't have any area of expertise to offer, but I have read a whole lot of stuff from American Western history. So what if some of the genealogists among us come up with things like ... a series of letters or fragmentary memoirs found preserved by someone from away back when? Textual evidence can be scanty at best, after so many millenia, but it happens - particularly if something found its way into an obscure library, such as a monestary or other, later religous archive or perhaps something found in the Duchess of Derbyshire's vaults or some such.

Or what about texts written from the "enemy" side, such as a scroll or manuscript from what was then Harad or Rhun?

And what if *that* sort of thing were compared against discoveries in archaeological digs? What if accounts regarding the Pelennor Field or Helm's Deep run into controversy when matched with new finds in the field? Immediately to my mind is how archaeology has begun reshaping our understanding of the Custer battlefield, when placed next to the myriad and sometimes conflicting accounts left by the Indians and survivors in troops who were not under Custer's direct command. And the same with the Alamo; supposedly someone on the Mexican side left a much-debated memoir of what happened, that I've seen on I think The History Channel a couple times.

There could be all sorts of debate as to whether these newly-found written accounts are genuine, whether or not there really WAS a Captain So and So and whether he is telling a true story soon after the events he is telling, or writing a glorified version 50 years later in his old age, and etc. There is a lot of this surviving the American Civil War, personal memoirs that may be rich in historical detail, but which careful research sometimes proves are faulty in their facts. Sometimes the writer wanted to expound on heroics and white-out the tawdry, and sometimes it was just a case of time playing tricks on the memory and leaving the writer looking back through the proverbial rose-colored glasses.

That in itself could be fun to contemplate: is this text factual or fictionalised? And why does this earth-shattering new archaeological find seem to contradict both text and itself, as the work goes on?

LOL, sorry, I have NO knowledge of how archaeology works and even less of how truly ancient texts should read, so I fear to offer myself as a participant at this time. But I'm just shameless enough to toss bare ideas out there, and hope someone's muse takes the bait.

Excellent idea, Dwim! I dunno if I'll get a nuzgul bite out of this one, but it will be fun to see how it developes and what stories and "documentation" may appear!
Cheers ~

Erin

 

 

Re: The Archaeological AU Challenge

I have a couple of things I'm considering. One natural place to find artifacts would be the buriel mounds of the Rohirrim. The barrows of the kings might well be ransacked over the ages by thieves, but the buriel mounds of the lesser nobility and of the common folk could be undisturbed, especially in the more remote areas of the country.


The Mounds of Mundberg have been rediscovered, buried in tons of river silt from what was then the valley of the Anduin ... Or perhaps the fire-pits wherein the enemy dead (and slain oliphaunts) were burned after the Battle of the Pelannor Field ... You know it would be difficult to keep fires hot enough long enough to truly dispose of everything.

~ Erin

 

 

Re: The Archaeological AU Challenge

But I'm just shameless enough to toss bare ideas out there, and hope someone's muse takes the bait.

You do realize the danger in doing that, don't you? Just ask Dwim. She throws all these nuzgûl at us, hoping to be rid of them, only discover that they've latched onto her as well. Once blood is drawn...

Besides, I know you've been involved with geneology, and there's a lot of potential there! So no begging off because of a lack of "knowledge".

~Nessime


 

 

Re: The Archaeological AU Challenge

What can I say? History, Art and Literature... the three great loves of my life put together in a single challenge. Woohoo! I'm thrilled.

I'd definitely be a group two volunteer. Although I have some knowledge about how to research info and put it together, and I have also done genealogy and such, I don't think my bad english would allow for a nice, accurate job. But, once the sources are up and we are shown all that new material, piecing together all those bits of information will be a source of countless hours of fun, intrigue and some M-e traveling for me. My, I feel like Carter already, glimpsing for the first time into a part of history that no one has seen before. Oh, the exploration part of this is amazing! This reminds me of my time at school. We took a whole semester on writing systems, pictograms, symbols, marks and such, and for our tests, the teacher gave us old documents, imprints, engravings (photographs, of course) and we had to tell how they were written (specifically, saying what kind of instruments, how was the movement of the hand when the scribe wrote, what materials), what age/culture they belonged to, what kind of function they had (especially in the case of egiptian writing). We also took a semester on old currency and coins, medals, banners and flags, heraldics, and we actually were given old shields and coats of arms, standards to read and interpret. That's been the most fun I've had! Oh, I got carried away, but this is brilliant, Dwim, and I think folks will love it.

My experience being mostly about Art history, however, I have a couple of questions about how it will be done. Can folks from group one provide any kind of source? Things such as old papers, correspondence, engravings, random texts, maps, government records, genealogies, various artifacts, logs (although it is highly unlikely that any of those could have survived, but, wouldn't it be great if somebody found the log of one of Elendil's ships?), burial records, jewelry, weaponry and warfare, architecture (I can just envision a fourth age gondorian stepping accidentally into the woods of Lothlorien and discovering the remnants of a flet or something), heraldry, old banners and standards, etc. regarding any time period of their choice. Is any of that what the challenge aims for? Or, does it lean more toward remnants of old records that could validate, or challenge, what the proffessor ultimately gave us? I once did something like that for a story for Círdan's birthday. The challenge was to adapt a fairy tale to a Middle Earth setting, and I was working with the Three Princes from Serendip (yes, you got that right! Three little princes: Curufinwe, Nolofinwe and Arafinwe). I assumed the persona of a scribe for lord Círdan who was relating, in Middle Earth, the events of a long gone past in Valinor, based on oral tradition, engravings, old documents preserved by the prominent families of the age (yes, Galadriel, Finrod, Gil-Galad, etc.) and who was trying to give the final, most revised and accurate version of a tale which had been changed and interpreted, sometimes erroneously, throughout history. Would that kind of approach work for this?

And then, after those sources are compiled, can we craft anything we want out of the elements we're given? That is, what kind of freedom will we have to write our stories? Can we introduce a canon character making such explorations or discoveries (I can actually think of several who would be interested in such things), do we take up the persona of a modern archaelogist, do we assume a sort of Eriol role once he washes on Tol Eressea and starts to question everyone? There are just so many possibilities for this one, and I am really looking forward to see what everybody will make out of it.

So, most definitely, count me in!

Starlight

 

 

Re: The Archaeological AU Challenge

Jim is not yet home from work, but I have a question - his real love is in artifacts and his first art is sculpture. (and he is much, much better versed in the first and second age than I am). Would it work if he were to sculpt things (shards, coins, bits of mosaic tiles like I dumped in the river in RoFS, whatever) and we posted photographs of them? He may insist on photographing them in place "as they were found" - (he likes modeling and dioramas.)

Sure, if he would like to do that, I'm certainly not going to say 'no.' We will once again need to find a site outside of HASA that is generally accessible to the public and has the ability to handle possibly large amounts of traffic. But I'm sure we can figure this out.

I'd like at this point to ask folks:

I'd originally conceived of this as an AU challenge, but it looks like some proposed projects may give us sort of extra-canonical (as opposed to anti-canonical) stories. I still think that would be nifty, but how should I word this challenge, then? Suggestions, folks?

Just preparing myself to bite him when he gets home

Bite, bite, bite, bite!

 

 

Re: The Archaeological AU Challenge

Starlight and ErinRua:

It's essentially the same question so:

Yes, I'm leaving open a fairly broad field for what can be presented as evidence open: if you're really up to it and want to do things like pottery fragments or coins, go for it--I hear that some of the most interesting things are found graven onto coins.

Enemy accounts (Khand, Harad, Rhûn, Angmar, etc.) are fine as well. Fragments of texts are also fine.

What I was aiming for in trying to phrase and organize this Challenge was this: we take Tolkien's texts as canonical works about certain events; however, there are other works that exist in M-e--some of them 'official', others 'unofficial' and possibly quite indirect by comparison to a chronology or a Domesday Book (gravings, burial mound artifacts, scholarly treatises and songs that didn't make it into the Red Book and the Silm). The point is to try to make Tolkien's texts one of a set of evidence about what M-e was like, rather as, say, the Gospel of Mary makes the four synoptic Gospels one of a set of Gospels, only some of which have been accepted as orthodox. So what I've called above "extra-canonical" sources can certainly work to help craft a story, but the original focus is to make those sources shed an unexpected light on Tolkien's stories that could change our minds about what happened in M-e or how it happened.

Does that sort of make sense? I'm willing to extend this to include things that would help ground stories that are alongside the canonical texts, but I'd like to see if people can plausibly create sources that will subtley or otherwise cast a definitely different light on the stories we know, thus enabling some AUs to take off. They need not be *huge* AUs, but they should be deviations in some respect from the received stories.

I hope I'm stating this well. I get the feeling I'm not. But we'll see. Anyhow, so our head count stands thusly:

Group One

Nessime (definite yes)
Zimraphel--either 3rd Age Cardolan or 1st Age Noldor archaeology dig reports (definite yes)
Meg Thornton--Bree, 3rd Age (probably)
SailingToByzantium--3rd Age (yes)
Julie (maybe?)
Celandine Brandybuck (maybe)
Khazar--Angmar, 3rd Age (yes)
powzie/Jim (maybe?)--? sculptures of some sort/toys?

Random Interested Others (either were enthusastic about the idea or e-mailed for more info):

Alawa--3rd Age(yes)
Forodwaith (maybe)
Starlight (yes)
Nic/paranoidangel--3rd Age (yes)
Flick--Third Age only (probably)
Acacea (yes)
ErinRua (probably)

We need a minimum of one more definite yes in Group One and two more "count me in"'s from Group Two.

Two hands, folks, that's all it needs. Heck, one. I'll volunteer for... um... something. Definitely Group Two, although I do have one idea for Group One. Third Age, Arnor... duh. You knew that was coming, right?

So one more hand? Hold them high!

 

 

Re: The Archaeological AU Challenge

Before I go find food, for Group One people:

I'd like to sort of organize around time periods, but then also places. Right now, we're rather low on Silm people.

So if any of you know any Silm people out there, be sure to send your goons after them to drag them over here. I'll look the other way if hands are literally held up (by someone else)...

;-)

 

 

Re: The Archaeological AU Challenge

Jim and I are a yes. I am thinking of us as a team, (but you can list us as two if you want, as pinning him down to one thing is the hard part once he says yes.) He is actually very jazzed by this, and his reaction was "Yes! How could we not!" I did not even have to bite him (though of course, I bit him anyway. Dwim, does that mean I work for you now?)

I am going to feed him now, and maybe by then I will have an answer for time or place - but he is a Silm guy, and I think he is thinking in that area.

 

 

Re: The Archaeological AU Challenge

All right, excellent. So does that mean both of you will be working in the Silm area, then?

"Yes! How could we not!" I did not even have to bite him (though of course, I bit him anyway. Dwim, does that mean I work for you now?

Now that's what I like to hear! Bravo, Jim! What an excellent example, and so helpful for me--one less person trying to take vengeance on me for assault with a deadly nuzgûl. Tay, you get the Challenge Minions Shelob Merit Badge for your patient plotting nonetheless ("Come into my parlor..." [bite!]).

Any other Silm Group One people out there? I only need five people per category to get this off the ground, but I think it'd be nice to get at least four or five people working in each Age, or at least to have a nice even division of labor.

 

 

Re: The Archaeological AU Challenge

You do realize the danger in doing that, don't you? Just ask Dwim. She throws all these nuzgûl at us, hoping to be rid of them, only discover that they've latched onto her as well. Once blood is drawn...

There are two stages of motivation for being Challenges Manager:

1) Desperate hope: you think if you throw these things at other people, they'll plague other people instead of you

2) Vengeful sadism: you realize your desperate hope was really a fool's hope, and so your only consolation is to insure that others suffer with you.

Thus I will happily claim a portion of Erin's free time and watch her walk down the road to nuzgûl perdition. There's always room for one more, you know....

 

 

Re: The Archaeological AU Challenge

Hey, Dwim, you can certainly count me in on Group One.

I think some of the HoME texts could very easily be adapted to fit this challenge - so many of them are ambiguous or contradictory to start with!

Plus there's the "alternate viewpoint" that others have already suggested. For example, there's the fact that the Silm is explicitly stated to be told from the Elvish perspective... what if some of our Silm experts wanted to try their hands at writing the Edain version of the Nirnaeth Arnoediad?

 

 

Re: The Archaeological AU Challenge


Hey,

Just got back home . I'm a definite "yes" if that means I'll give it the old college try -- whether I can come up with anything useable is another ??. Hope that makes sense. I'm thinking in terms of Gondorian docs, Second or Third Age. When are we thinking in terms of trying to have these finished? (somebody may have asked this already... if so, apologies... long day).

flick

 

 

Re: The Archaeological AU Challenge

Group One by Age

1st Age:
powzie/Jim --sculptures of some sort/toys?
Zimraphel-- Noldor archaeological dig reports (maybe)

2nd Age
Flick--Gondor (maybe)

3rd Age

Nessime
Zimraphel--3rd Age Cardolan archaeological dig reports (maybe)
Meg Thornton--Bree, 3rd Age (probably)
SailingToByzantium--3rd Age
Khazar--Angmar, 3rd Age
Flick-- Gondor (maybe)

Forodwaith (?)

----
Julie (maybe?)
Celandine Brandybuck (maybe)
Dwim-- Arnor (maybe)
Ainaechoiriel--Third Age, Mirkwood (provisional bite ;-))

Group Two Writers

Alawa--3rd Age
Starlight
Nic/paranoidangel--3rd Age
Acacea

---
ErinRua (probably)

So there's our merry list of madpeople, with their affiliations listed.

Do we have one more person willing to say "Yes, I'll write a story based on some of these"?

Once someone says yes, I will open this as an official Challenge.

 

 

Re: The Archaeological AU Challenge

Well, the problem with Sil archeological dig sites is they're all under water now. It'd be great to have a dig at Nargothrond or Gondolin, especially Gondolin, but it's underwater now and when something has been underwater that many thousands of years, it's hard to find anything. Same with Numenor, unless you do a dig on Tol Meneltarma, which is supposed to have survived the Downfall. I would be willing to do a Meneltarma dig that would contradict Tolkien's account that there were no structures up there.

 

 

Re: The Archaeological AU Challenge

This is true, but you do have some accounts that were hauled out by Elendil of Númenor, surely, so there is that possibility.

There are also opportunities for 'pointers' to show up--in some record, you get a mention and a fragment of some lost work of the Elves of Doriath, or something of that sort.

So I think it's *possible*, one might just have to be tricky about it. Or willing to go with the scuba dive dig. :-)

 

 

Re: The Archaeological AU Challenge

Jim has fallen asleep on the couch with a notepad on his leg. His real notes seems to be interested in the far north - I will need to read/refresh like crazy to work with him.

He gets caught up in the first vols. Of HoMe, and UT. When I first told him the plan called for things that contradict the cannon, he replied-“Oh! Like the cannon!”

(I don’t think he was serious about notes in a bottle that say Tuor and Idril and someone named Thor Heyerdal set sail for Valinor but actually landed in Tahiti)

 

 

Re: The Archaeological AU Challenge

Okay, how are we supposed to submit our work for this Challenge?

 

 

Re: The Archaeological AU Challenge

Any other Silm Group One people out there?
Well, uh, I'd love to volunteer, but I'm insecure about joining in... I'd like to know more about the time commitment, if possible...

 

 

Re: The Archaeological AU Challenge

Ok, folks, I have us a Challenge and a forum for it.

Zimraphel (God, I'm going to have to fight not to call you "Zim"... as in "Invader"...), your question is answered in the forum.

 

 

Re: The Archaeological AU Challenge

Aw, that's okay, Dwim. Over at Elrond's House of Handmaidens at the old Imladris site, they know me as Zim, the fomer Xena-like queen of Numenor with a penchant for thigh-holstered stilettoes, mithril brassieres, handcuffs and whipped cream. I'm also keeper of the stack of Elf smut. Back issues of Bodilicious Man Elf and Elf Stud, with pics of hot, sweaty Rondo the Magnificent in his armor. Rwwwr.

Oh, and rumor has it that Ar-Pharazon is ambling his way toward Rivendell. I've sent him on a detour through Tom Bombadil country, but should that loser show his face, I've got the valley rigged with sharpened stakes, snake pits and the obligatory 12,000 volt shock on the doorbell. Oh, and I cut all the phone lines. (Evil laughter)

 

 

Re: The Archaeological AU Challenge

I don’t think he was serious about notes in a bottle that say Tuor and Idril and someone named Thor Heyerdal set sail for Valinor but actually landed in Tahiti

Too bad...I would have liked to know what the translation of Kon Tiki is in Quenya.

~Nessime

 

 

Re: The Archaeological AU Challenge

Okay, Dwim, you caught my interest. I've never tried my hand at such a thing as this. But I'm going to stick my pinky finger into the cage and see if this Nuzgul gives me a nibble. I've got no time for a big bite, but a nibble might work. So, for now, count me as a potential Group One person. Probably 3rd age. You know how I love Mirkwood. Though I do have a soft spot for Mablung of Doriath as well. We'll just have to see if the little guy manages to draw any blood.

--Ainaechoiriel
Trying to find where she put her BA in History and her Master Degree in Museum Studies. I know they're around here somewhere....

 

 

Re: The Archaeological AU Challenge

Heh heh heh, another victim!

 

 

Re: The Archaeological AU Challenge

Message: Well, the problem with Sil archeological dig sites is they're all under water now. It'd be great to have a dig at Nargothrond or Gondolin, especially Gondolin, but it's underwater now and when something has been underwater that many thousands of years, it's hard to find anything. Same with Numenor, unless you do a dig on Tol Meneltarma, which is supposed to have survived the Downfall. I would be willing to do a Meneltarma dig that would contradict Tolkien's account that there were no structures up there.

Well, think of it as like the underwater searches for Atlantis, which usually turn up ancient Greecian artifacts, but nonetheless there are sunken stone walls, statuary, pot sherds, glassware, gold coins and relics, etc ... Sort of like diving on ship wrecks, as well! It would be problematical but the darnedest things sometimes turn up in underwater archaeology, especially if some gigantic storm churned up the sea bed and uncovered stuff hitherto buried in ages of silt and mud ....

~ Erin

 

 

Re: The Archaeological AU Challenge

Starlight and ErinRua:

It's essentially the same question so:

Yes, I'm leaving open a fairly broad field for what can be presented as evidence open: if you're really up to it and want to do things like pottery fragments or coins, go for it--I hear that some of the most interesting things are found graven onto coins.

Enemy accounts (Khand, Harad, Rhûn, Angmar, etc.) are fine as well. Fragments of texts are also fine.

What I was aiming for in trying to phrase and organize this Challenge was this: we take Tolkien's texts as canonical works about certain events; however, there are other works that exist in M-e--some of them 'official', others 'unofficial' and possibly quite indirect by comparison to a chronology or a Domesday Book (gravings, burial mound artifacts, scholarly treatises and songs that didn't make it into the Red Book and the Silm). The point is to try to make Tolkien's texts one of a set of evidence about what M-e was like, rather as, say, the Gospel of Mary makes the four synoptic Gospels one of a set of Gospels, only some of which have been accepted as orthodox. So what I've called above "extra-canonical" sources can certainly work to help craft a story, but the original focus is to make those sources shed an unexpected light on Tolkien's stories that could change our minds about what happened in M-e or how it happened.

Does that sort of make sense? I'm willing to extend this to include things that would help ground stories that are alongside the canonical texts, but I'd like to see if people can plausibly create sources that will subtley or otherwise cast a definitely different light on the stories we know, thus enabling some AUs to take off. They need not be *huge* AUs, but they should be deviations in some respect from the received stories.

I hope I'm stating this well. I get the feeling I'm not. But we'll see.



Hullo Dwim ~

Actually, I think I'm getting it. I hope ... You are looking for materials and stories that would challenge the accepted view of some things in LOTR. Such as, we are told that Helm's Deep was a heroic last stand, and that Theoden and Aragorn were leading a desperate last charge against insurmountable odds, when Gandalf and Erkenbrand showed up in the nick of time. But what if historical and/or archaeological evidence shows us something entirely different, such as there were not nearly as many orcs as the account says, and Gandalf et al arrived when the battle was nearly over? Or perhaps new-found evidence suggests the defense of Helm's Deep was not nearly so heroic, but instead suffered from huge disorganisation and ill-preparedness. Something like that, yes?

In other words, taking the "accepted" version of things and coming up with alternative views of what "really happened" or at least a conflicting or contradictory set of possibilities for what happened, in whatever scenes the writers chose. Is that closer to what you are getting at? Anywho, I'm just following along behind the rest of you folks ... Dang, what was that nibbling on my pants leg?
Cheers ~

Erin

 

 

Re: The Archaeological AU Challenge

Well, I'm lousy at historical research, have little or no time, am suffering a horrific case of writer's block and have two AUs going right now anyway, but I just wanted to say how excited I am that so many people are looking at LOTR as a historical text rather than The Truth About Middle-earth! This makes me very, very, very happy. It's always seemed strange to me that when JRRT clearly presented the books as sort of a fictional history, so many people seem so unwilling to look at the possibility that things weren't as JRRT said. Now I know, fictional history is very different from history or even historical fiction, and since there was no Middle-earth then everything JRRT said on the subject could be taken as the whole and complete truth. But how much more interesting to view at as we view real history! To look for the ways in which events may have differed from what we see in the history books - which are, of course, written by the victors.... Especially when there's already conflicting data in HoME.

I'll be following this with interest.

 

 

Re: The Archaeological AU Challenge

Here's what I have in mind:

Cleaning out an old storeroom at a University yields an unopened crate, labeled "Gift of Lord S-, 1873". Since it is very old, and no one knows what is in it, a few brave souls undertake examining the crate.

Upon opening the crate, the curious individuals find some fragmentary texts, parts of some books, a few pieces of jewelry, and some other artifacts.

The more learned of them recognizes some of the texts as similar to the "Red Book" translated by Dr Tolkien at Oxford. Realizing the importance of this find in throwing more light on the murky history of Middle-earth, a full translation of the texts is undertaken.

What will be "published" is the translation of those texts, plus illustrations of the jewelry & other artifacts.

Does this sound reasonable to everyone?

 

 

Re: The Archaeological AU Challenge

Works for me. Have fun polishing jewelry, Khazar, but do be careful if you start entertaining thoughts of world dominion...

 

 

Re: The Archaeological AU Challenge

All right, Dwim, belatedly (I'm on holiday and was in motion a good bit of the last 10 days) I think you can count me in for something in Group One.

A couple of questions. One, can this be something that is essentially canonical? Ang and I have been kicking around some ideas developing out of "Laws and Customs," but geared toward Men not Elves. I'd really like to encourage her to write the essay we discussed. *hands over small squalling nuzgûl*

Also, if I got extra excited, I assume I could contribute documents for more than one age? The sorts of things I would provide will not be chronicles or narratives, mind you. They will be things like account books, and guilds' internal ordinances, and civic court records, and so on. I have in mind Minas Tirith for the Third Age. I could also see some fragments from Doriath - Galadriel might have re-used some bits of parchment to wrap things in when she left, and those leaves could have some interesting things on them. An order for harp-strings and lute-strings, maybe?

Cel

 

 

Re: The Archaeological AU Challenge

One, can this be something that is essentially canonical? Ang and I have been kicking around some ideas developing out of "Laws and Customs," but geared toward Men not Elves. I'd really like to encourage her to write the essay we discussed. *hands over small squalling nuzgûl*

I think this could work--we don't have a Laws and Customs of Men, as it were, so a formal sort of statement on it might be interesting, as a comparison between the two races. It might kick off a nugûl or three that would let someone take a different stance on what Men thought of Elves or how they would view matters of marriage and kinship.

Also, if I got extra excited, I assume I could contribute documents for more than one age?

Absolutely. I think Silm people would love you, since we so far have lots of interest in the Third Age but it's a bit more difficult to smuggle artifacts out of sunken Beleriand, unless you want to go the full route and do an underwater dig (Ainae assures me this is done quite often, so have fun, folks).

Everyday sorts of artifacts and records are eligible, so long as we have a kernel in there somewhere which can let us take a different view of M-e. Go for it, Cel.

And Ang, I know hospital intrasever... thingies... are making life interesting, but this Challenge isn't ending for at least a year and a half! [dangling lure before eyes]

 

 

Re: The Archaeological AU Challenge

Dwim, I am kicking around several possibilities, including:
- some kind of report on what actually did happen to the hobbit archers who went to the aid of Arvedui [3rd Age]
- the settling of Moria [2nd Age]
- documents from Eregion about Annatar & the forging of the Rings [2nd Age]

 

 

Re: The Archaeological AU Challenge

Khazar is having a *lovely* time polishing jewelry, as far as I can tell. I am having a lovely time on Narak Island (island of the Eagles, i.e. the summit of the Meneltarma) investigating the ruins of a Temple to Morgoth that was being worked on right up until the moment of the Downfall. So much for nobody ever going up there.

 

 

Re: The Archaeological AU Challenge

Khazar is having a *lovely* time polishing jewelry, as far as I can tell.

Khazar plays with jewelry a LOT.

For those who have yet to examine it, check out the Angmar Hoard:

http://www.geocities.com/khazar_khum/angmar_hoard.html

If anyone wants/needs jewelry from somewhere else in ME, let me know--I have, oh, 40,000 or so pieces laying around!

Khazar

 

 

Re: The Archaeological AU Challenge

And speaking of victims, I would like to put my hand up for a try at Group One; Rohan, sometime in the Fourth Age (if that's permissible.) I have a fantastic idea for early written forms of Rohirric... and well, I'd love to give it a shot. But, barring that, there are always those fabulous burial mounds, and Edoras to excavate =)

 

 

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