Primitive People

Digging Up Your Digs

500 years from now, an archaeologist accidentally stumbles on the ruins of your home, long buried underground. What will she learn about early-21st-century humans by going through (what remains of) your stuff?


Sonya sat back on her heels, rubbing the place just above her waist where the muscles tended to cramp. Thankful the weather had moderated, she gazed up at the puffy clouds that scudded across the sky. A cool breeze lifted the hair off her forehead, and she closed her eyes for a moment as she tried to imagine what life must have been like for the primitives who had occupied the ruins she was excavating. Five hundred years ago, life had certainly been different. While she was fascinated by her discoveries, she was very glad she had not lived in those bad old days.

Huge houses. Separate rooms for every family member, crammed with stuff that had not all yet been identified. A separate space for cooking, for hygiene, for eating. Other spaces for cleaning their clothing. Even their transport had its own special room, in this case attached to the house. Considering the smelly fuels they used back then, it was hard to imagine how they could have remained healthy even for the short 80 or so years they had lived.

And speaking of cleaning their clothing–Sonya was astonished at the piles and piles of apparel that filled special rooms they built just for their clothing. Every individual in the family had enough apparel to clothe a hundred people, and yet they seemed to have loved what they called shopping for more and more clothes. As she had sifted through a wooden piece of furniture called a desk, Sonya had found some sort of electronic records of the family’s expenses. She had been shocked at the amount of exchange tokens they had spent on clothing, and on other personal adornment. The woman of the house had her hair cut, colored, styled, and treated with other chemicals on a regular basis. The male had not been so vain; he had his hair cut every few weeks, but that was all.

There were masses of tangled, dirty pieces of jewelry for the ears, necks, hands, and apparently even the ankles and waists of these people. Perhaps they wore the jewelry in honor of their ancestors, or maybe to ward off disease or something. It would take much research to figure it all out. It was impractical in the extreme, and must have gotten in the way of their daily functioning.

Because she loved music in all its forms, Sonya was particularly interested in the small, flat, shiny circles of some sort of material that had been used to record music. She had found a machine that swallowed these disks, played the music on them, and then spit them back out. It had taken some tinkering to figure out the power source for the relic. Apparently the primitives had plugged their machines into some sort of electrical supply.  How dangerous, to have such a large house completely surrounded by cords and wires and outlets that held such fire!

And their machines–so many machines.  Not all of them were identified yet, but there were some whose purpose was fairly clear.  Machines for cooking food; for keeping food preserved; for washing the untensils and plates from which they ate their food.  Machines for cleaning the rooms in their houses, machines even for such tasks as cleaning their teeth.  Amazing. So many different pieces of equipment, each with only one use. Some of them took up vast amounts of space, too, which probably explained why their houses had been so large.

As Sonya recorded pictures of each find on her wrist unit, clearly describing them into the microphone, she found herself becoming ever more thankful that all her work could be filed quickly and efficiently in such a small space. It seemed that the primitives had machines for taking pictures, machines to make the pictures into paper records, machines to copy records, machines to send records from one place to another, machines to carry paper records all around the world. Enormous amounts of their smelly fuels had been used to accomplish all that.

Life was simpler in 2514.  Sonya was glad.

7 thoughts on “Primitive People

  1. Pingback: Daily Prompt: Digging Up Your Digs | tnkerr-Writing Prompts and Practice

    1. Yes, I hadn’t thought of her that way, but I can see it. She’s going only on wgat she knows in her own life, so the way we live now would seem strange to her. Same as the year 1514 seems very far removed from us.


  2. Pingback: Daily Prompt – Digging Up Your Digs « RobertMcQ

  3. Would they really have no idea, no record of what we use now, in terms of naming the technology and knowing a cd was a cd? We know what things were called from 2000 years back, so why wouldn’t they know after only 500 years?
    That said, I can think of lots of reasons why knowledge might have been wiped out and I’m going to apply that to your story, which I actually thoroughly enjoyed, so please don’t get the wrong idea. I like the way you write and would love to know more about that future you envisage actually.


    1. I did consider what you have pointed out, but I decided not to go in that direction. My thinking is that it would have to have been something cataclysmic that buried a whole civilization, and many records would have been lost. Also, considering the speed with which technology has exploded in the last 50 years, I would assume that it had completely changed the way people lived in 2514.

      These prompts are fun to play around with. One of my kids tells me I need to expand some of these little bytes into something with more substance. Maybe. We’ll see.

      Thanks for your comment. Good insights. And thanks for stopping by.


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