After weeks of excavating several layers of dust particles, mostly dog hairs, and what may be interpreted as children’s toys, textiles, and tools in his attic, our very own bibliographer/archaeologist/coin enthusiast/dog lover Mike Braunlin made what could only be described as the discovery of a lifetime, move over Griffin Warrior, namely the partial skeletal remains (a surprisingly small head and large hands) of one of the greatest of the ancient Romans, none other than the orator, lawyer, politician, Republican (not the Trump kind), good father, less great husband, Marcus Tullius Cicero. The identification is virtually certain since a paper fragment was attached with the text: “Caveat Rhetor: Cicero olim fui” in addition to a rostrum (the rostra of Rome?). AIA’s gold medal is a given for the explorer himself.
— Mike, please tell us; how did it feel when you made this remarkable discovery?
Mike: Well, Rebecka, words alone serve as an inadequate vessel to contain the depth of my emotions when I opened that box and saw “things…yes, wonderful things.” Let it only be noted that by the time I had descended my ladder, but before I was able with trembling fingers and benumbed legs to convey that precious cargo into my house, I used up my 2 remaining Depends, and Susan had to drive to Kroger’s to purchase another package for me. In short, it was a very moving experience.
— Would you say that this find equals Carter’s discovery of the tomb of King Tut and Schliemann’s discovery of Troy?
Mike: A modest man is a wise man. Let others judge.
— What’s next for the intrepid adventurer? Searching for Atlantis?
Mike: Besides my immediate concern of plotting the closest restrooms on my twice daily trek to and from the University Garage, I want to confirm once and for all my long held belief that the existence of the Byzantines proves that space aliens interbred with local populations in the eastern Mediterranean in late antiquity. While the coin portraiture of the 7th through 15th centuries should alone convince even the skeptic, as just a few of my numerous examples show in the photos below, I suppose the die-hard opponents of this truth will only bow before the Light of Science. As my many intimates know, I WAS abducted by space aliens one dark November evening while I was bicycling home from a Boy Scout meeting in 1966. Little did my tormentors know that they themselves would someday provide evidence of their existence. I managed to take a bite out of one of those space-oddities while they were attaching a brain waive monitor to my head. As we all know, alien flesh does not decompose (they are like plastic bottles that way), and I still have a chunk of that nastiness wedged between my teeth. We’ve just got to dig up some Byzantine bones and match their DNA with the stuff I’m currently trying to dislodge with my tongue. Then let my detractors laugh no more!
— There you have it. In spite of his exceptional discovery, Mike Braunlin remains modest and grounded in reality and is anxious to continue his search for the remains of dead people, whether of this or other worlds.
The skeletal remains of Cicero is temporarily (until October 31) on display on the mezzanine of the John Miller Burnam Classics Library. Entrance is free. Do not touch.