Friday, February 13, 2015

Archaeology, Bespoken

(Crorey, speaking in Carnival Barker tone)

How often do you think to yourself, “You know, I just don’t know what to do with all of this money?”

Nor do I, brother, nor do I.  But I’d like to introduce you to a fascinating new idea, and I will let YOU be in on the ground floor of the business.  For a small fee, you can become part owner in my new enterprise, one that is sure to get traction not only here in the Big Easy, but in interesting cities around the country.

See, the wealthy people in town tend to cluster in the older, more inbred…. Um, sorry.  I mean the areas of a city with more history.  Areas like the French Quarter.  The Garden District. Bayou St John., South of Broad in Charleston. Historic District in Savannah. Nob Hill in San Francisco. The Golden Triangle in Greenwich, Connecticut.

These are areas with HISTORY.  The residents of the homes in these areas have money. These are the VRPs (Very Rich People)

My job, and yours, is to find a way to separate those VRPs from some of their wealth….. by connecting them with their history.

Figure 1.  There is bound to be VRP living here.

That is right, ladies and gentlemen.... I am talking about Bespoke Archaeology.

By providing the VRPs with a story – their history – at a price.

The product they receive is broken into four parts.

The first is the history.  Starting with 18th C Sanborn maps, and continuing through plat maps at the courthouse and meticulous newspaper research, (actually, it is this nifty invention called GOOGLE) my team will re-construct the history of ownership of the VRP’s home.   The photographic reproductions of the history will be provided in a lovely one-volume set, suitable for display on any coffee table anywhere. All photographs will also be available for large-scale reproduction, and can be framed upon request.

Figure 2.  Subject property highlighted from 1896 Sanborn Map of the area.

The second part is the archaeology.  Professional archaeologists (meaning we pay them to do the work) will carefully excavate a single location, selected as a result of the historic information retrieved during phase I.  We will identify either a historic feature or a likely spot for historic artifacts, such as a midden (fancy archaeological word, meaning old garbage dump).The team will then use great care in identifying  the age and likely use of the artifacts, and a reconstructed history will be created to explain the excavated remains.  The result will be a narrative summary of activities at the VRP’s house through time[1].

The next step will be the interpretive room.  Each VRP will be provided with a handmade cabinet to display all artifacts.  Available in any number of custom stains and natural finishes, the cabinet provides an attractive housing for the beautiful antiquities.

Now for the final part of the scam. Erm.  I’m sorry.  I mean project, is to provide an in-home lecture to all of the family and friends of the VRP.  A professorial type, clad in a tweed 3-piece suit, will guide a mesmerized audience through the history of the home, weaving a tale that brings to life the history…. Sordid and otherwise. 

Did rich plantation owners host midnight parties after the city fell to the union army?  Was your house frequented by amorous-feeling gentlemen during world war I?  Maybe your front room served as 'sitting areas' for lonely widows after the fatal floods on the early 20th century.

The presentation will be made at a catered candlelight  dinner, complete with a visual presentation.  Also included in the contract is a stipulation that the Archaeologist will be on call for the following year for repeat performances on demand.  For a nominal fee, of course.

The challenge that we have, as frustrated academic archaeologists, is funding for this startup.

What we need is investors with vision.  With chutzpah.  With an eye to the possibility of  an incredible return on the initial investment.  The first $1000 will be put to developing the contract with a cabinetmaker, the landscaper, and the caterer,  which are the only real physical investments in the business.  Once the cabinets are completed, we will be able to charge archaeologists for the opportunity to present their results in national meetings; thereby keeping overhead low. And the VRP will be charged 25k for the bragging rights. 

Each successful project will result in a $20,000 profit.  That 20k will be split evenly among investors and owners, with one share for you, and one share for me.  Two shares for you, and on, two shares for me, three shares for you, and one, two, three….

I am excited at the prospect of this new venture, and I present you with an opportunity to invest.  In Cobweb and Ape. 

Now I ask you to blink in agreement, as a promise of payment.

I have one investor right there!  Who will be next? Thank YOU, sir!  Any other blinks? 

[1] A copy of the report will also be filed with the State Archaeologist as well as the local historical society. All excavated locations will be carefully backfilled and professionally landscaped..

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