What archeologist have to do with a dystopian time traveling romance
When I was in elementary school, I went to see King Tutankhamen’s treasures in the Smithsonian. I was intrigued by the objects found in the tomb. Just as intriguing, were the explanations that archeologists gave for the artifacts. For example, little figurines called shabtis were buried with King Tut because ancient Egyptians believed these figurines would magically transform into servants for the deceased in the next life.
As a girl who had a large collection of Barbies, I wondered if King Tut wasn’t just a doll fan. (I still have a lot of dolls. On the off chance that Tut was right, maybe I should be buried with them. The next life will be a lot more interesting if I have an army of Barbies to do my bidding. )
Throughout school as I studied about ancient history—explained by the experts—the same doubts about accuracy crossed my mind time and time again. How accurate can historians’ conclusions be when they’re studying artifacts in a culture they don’t understand? For example, archeologists insist that ancient Americans didn’t have wheels. They didn’t use chariots or wagons.
Really? Ancient America had lots of people and was a big place to traverse. Are we really supposed to believe that not one of these people over the period of thousands of years was smart enough to invent a wheel? They all just lugged their belonging around the continent, and none of them ever thought, “Hey, it’s pretty easy to roll trees once the branches are cut off. Maybe we could expand on that principle . . .”
“But,” you might say, “where’s the archeological evidence of their wheels?”
The funny thing is that archeologist have actually found evidence of wheels in ancient America. They found them on toys. And from that, archeologists concluded that ancient Americans used wheels on toys, but not on anything else.
At this point you should be wondering who funded these archeologists and what they did with the money.
But even the smartest historians and archeologists probably make a lot of mistakes—for one very important reason: People do a lot of things that don’t make sense.
When I was writing Erasing Time, I wondered what future historians would make of our time period if they only had a limited knowledge of this era. Would anyone in the future believe women willingly walked around on the balls of their feet in uncomfortable pointy shoes because we thought they made our feet look good? How about all of the movies/books/stories we have about talking animals? Does anyone else think it’s odd that we’ve told children about the virtues of The Little Red Hen for decades, and then we serve our kids chicken McNuggets?
Human nature doesn’t make sense, which is why historians are bound to get things wrong. (And even things that make sense to us, might not to someone studying us: Would future historians know a DVD was actually a way to play a movie or would they think we all really, really liked little round mirrors?)
In Erasing Time, twins Sheridan and Taylor are brought over 400 years to the future. The scientists of 2447 were looking for a famous physicist from our time period and got two teenage girls instead. Echo, a historian wordsmith (who just so happens to also be a hot guy) is assigned to be Sheridan and Taylor’s translator. He gets a lot of things wrong and has no idea what to make of phrases like: Give me a hand, Pull yourself together, and Don’t let the cat out of the bag.
Which makes for a fun novel. I hope readers have as much fun reading it as I had writing it! And hey, save your Barbies—you might want them someday.
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