Looking through the dusty archive of the University had not been easy. The basement was rarely opened, and it had taken Mathias several month to hunt down the key, lodged between the floorboards of a long dead professor’s office. But now, covered in spider’s web and decades of dust, Mathias had no regrets. For he had found a most valuable tome, and, his research cast aside, he would now change the world.
This scroll is dedicated to all the items which, given a first glance, would look mundane, or even boring, but that hold remarkable stories or ideas.
The Inspiration comes from reading about Aqua Regia, a very powerful acid solution, capable of dissolving gold:
From wikipedia, sept 2007:
When Germany invaded Denmark in World War II, the Hungarian chemist George de Hevesy dissolved the gold Nobel Prizes of Max von Laue and James Franck into aqua regia to prevent the Nazis from stealing them. He placed the resulting solution on a shelf in his laboratory at the Niels Bohr Institute. It was subsequently ignored by the Nazis who thought the jar, one of perhaps hundreds on the shelving, contained common chemicals. After the war, de Hevesy returned to find the solution undisturbed and precipitated the gold out of the acid. The gold was returned to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and the Nobel Foundation presented new medals to Laue and Franck.
Please do not restrict your entries to modern items, all genre and periods are welcome, including fantasy/sci-fi items
Additional Ideas (5)
On the dusty shelves of the Harvard Medical School archives, amongst many similar items, this large jar is filled with the age-yellowed formaldehyde, which conserves what appears to be at first glance a human foetus at about 16 weeks of development and approximatively 14 inches in length.
Upon closer inspection, Several things seem to be wrong with the foetus.
- The skull seems to have an elongated facial section, with both nose and jaw jutting predominantly forward, suggesting a snout-like appearance.
- The coccyx seems to extend far longer than natural, reaching the length of the femur.
- Although It should be apparent even with a customary glance, the foetus's upper arms cover a pair of unseen, lower arms from view. This seems to be the source of the larger-than-normal scapula, which gives the foetus a hunchback appearance
The jar is adorned with a very faint label, written in an old flowing script. Worn by age, parts of the label are illegible, but the rest can be discerned by either careful observation, or the use of a magnifying glass:
Specimen: Homo Sapiens Daemonicus
Collected by: Sri Edward Anstruther-Gough-Calthorpe
Date of Collection: 12th june 1824
Stock number: 19332-123-19
These ancient stone statue are gathering dust in the storage area of the Louvre Museum, in Paris. Approximately 3 metres high, they are unique in the way that their proportion is not standard for egyptian sphinxs, since they are only about as wide as a man's chest. Donated by a rich benefactor in the 1960s, the statues were never displayed due to their strange dimensions.
These statues are hollow, and their cavity contains over 900 kgs of purified cocaine. Meant as a safe transport vector, the statues were meant to be stolen upon arrival in paris. Indeed, the anonymus benefactor was none other than Sheilk Shal-Amar Mohammed, one of the biggest drug trafficant of the 1960s. During his voyage to paris, so that he could oversee the recovery of his merchandise, his boat was involved in a completely accidental collision, which resulted in his death, as well as the death of his top two advisers, the only people to know of the shipment. (The workers involved with the project having been killed for security reasons.) Today, the cocaine remains, unknown to the dilligent archeologist, who have for years walked naively besides the statues.
This small, desktop bronze statue depicts a small cart being pulled by two healthy looking horses. The driver has an healthy looking complexion, and not a little resemblance to Jimmy Hoffa. A small plaque in the same material as the statue (mounted on the lacquered wood base) indicates this is a special thankyou gift from the International Brotherhood of teamsters. The craftsmanship is exquisite, and although the sculpture is deliberately left as an artist's draft, it retains a very noticeable elegance.
Jimmy Hoffa's attempt at regaining control of the teamsters after his presidential pardon was not appreciated by all. Indeed, The various mafia factions had already placed their own men inside the union, and the return of Jimmy Hoffa would make it more difficult for them to exert their control. In a top secret meeting between the various factions (which very nearly resulted in murder, but that's another story), the mafia factions united in getting rid of Jimmy Hoffa.
After killing him, the body would have to be disposed of, and all evidence destroyed. For this, the Gambino family was tasked with the disposal. Hoffa's body was placed inside an old car, which was them crushed, and placed in a smelter. What was not known at the time, is that one of Hoffa's finger was removed. (The finger upon which rested a Teamster ring) The then boss Constantino Paul Castellano decide to have a commemorative sculpture made, the teamster badge simply appealing to his sense of humour. Inside the solid bronze cart actually resides a hollow compartment, where, resting inside a silk handkerchief, is Jimmy Hoffa's severed finger. Since Castellano's death, the statue has passed many hands, none aware of the statue's gruesome history.
This is a work of fiction, and any basis in fact beyond Jimmy Hoffa's death is coincidental and unintended.
This rather mediocre arabic work hangs in a small coach-house now guest house in the Dordogne region of france. Being isolated and rather hard to get to, this guest house is mostly frequented by a small group of past middle age french couple, who have to time to take in the pituresque views surrounding its elevated position. Promotion is by word of mouth only.
The painting itself sits completely out of place in the rurally decorated guest house, and when questioned, the elderly widow Madamme Neulli will say that she formed an unexpected attachment to it when she found it in an old antique fair, several years back (her exact dating is actually "When I was a young fool").
Most scholars of ancient aramaic will immediately see that the text is completely out of place for the 14th century arabic style, being more accurately placed at the first century BC to the first century AD. A liberal translation of the words will yield "here lies the madonna and grown child". Although of course for every scholar, a slightly different translation will emerge. These clearly jar with the picture of a wealthy merchant, most likely an artist's early dabblings in the art. If scientifically dated, the age of the canvas and the paint will be significantly different, with the canvas being around 2000 years old, while the paint will be around 700 years old.
On the back of the canvas, faint initials can be faintly made out below a more modern arabic sinature: The Hebrew equivalent of J.B.S. and these are written in a clearly different hand than the newer less faint signature of the forgotten arabic artist.
But since no scholar of arabic art or aramaic has ever set eye on this painting, its true meaning has yet to be discovered...
note: Jochanan ben Sacharja is the name of St John the baptist.
Within the contested occult collection of the late Plymouth artist, Robert Lenkiewicz, lies another mummy, this time, not embalmed by the artist himself, but rather aquired through unknown means during his life. Even a lay observer will see this to be an ancient item, from the materials used, to the discolouration of the paints used to adorn the linen (highly unusual practise).
a small gold plaque on the chest is nailed straight through the body, with the nail bent at the back between the shoulderbblades to prevent the plaque from falling. On it is still engraved in hieroglyphs the simple warning:
"Damned beyond mortal words be those who lay eyes on the cursed firstborn of Amenhotep III"
The mummy itself lies within a simple wooden crate, packed with shreds of newspaper, with dates ranging form 1901 right to the 1950s. A modern manilla folder has been stapled to the lid of the crate, and contains X-rays with medical notes, although noticably missing ar the examiner's name and the date the notes were written. They explain some simple ailments that the mummified remain was likely to have suffered, a cleft palate, a dolichocephalic skull and slight scoliosis. The medical notes then become highly speculative, and reveal a great deal of scepticism on the part of the writer:
"Also notable is the enlarged and deformed nature of the sternum, with a large anterior protrusion. The nature of this deformation is far too regular to be tumourous in nature, and resembles a keeled avian sternum (...) also notable is the thickened and deformed shape of the scapulas, with a large posterior protrusion, and what seems to be a joint, although the rest of this hypothetical third set of limbs is missing. Clearly this must be the result of some extensive post-mortem modification, but since you have so vehemently refrained me from carefully disambalming this specimen, I cannot draw further conclusions at this time."
"Bibliotheca Lenkiewicziana": http://www.lenkiewicz.org/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=74&Itemid=55
"Robert Lenkiewicz, wikipedia": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Lenkiewicz