The Pirates of the Rhone

Perhaps because I was born in the Midwest, I have always been fascinated by the sea an those who live on or near it.  While I know, at some level, that the romance of pirates, buccaneers, whalers, and even fishermen is largely unwarranted, that a sea life is an ugly, harsh one, I am still attracted to it.  The idea of loneliness, the flat plane of water extending in all directions, the dullness of endless days under the sun broken only by the fear of storms, the gentle comforting rock of the waves at night and the deep inner sense of those who have no one to face but themselves on most days all intrigue me.  But perhaps it’s all perception, not reality.

But all of the stories I know of life at sea have a hidden, secret side.  There’s sunken treasure there, secrets and lost lives and a tangle of the past we all sometimes try to escape.  There’s the wash of waves over land that once was shore, and the odd hollows of cliffs that are caves above water only half the time.  In this shallowness, this wash between land and sea, lies a great deal of our unknown past.  It is here that our origins lie largely unexplored.  It is here that we will find the truth of the first Americans, of the wars of ancient cities, of who we were and the way we lived in the past.

Yet there are those who remain amazed at what we discover in the newer field of underwater archeology.  There are those still surprised at the wonders that lurked offshore at Alexandria, or at the damp caves of Lescaux, or at the new finds in the Rhone near Arles.  For myself, I am more amazed at the comment by Michel L’Hour, who heads the Department of Subaquatic Archaeological Research, in that researchers are trying to determine “in what context these statues were thrown into the river”.  Hm.  I was unaware that we could tell someone intentionally threw them in just by the situation in which they were found.  But I don’t have all the details.  Perhaps the time period of the city was well-enough known that researchers are sure there wasn’t a flood or storm or battle or other natural or political disaster that would’ve led to the disbursement or abandonment of goods.  I suppose it could’ve been the famed Rhone river pirates, up to no good or about to be caught and dumping their loot.

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