Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
This here's a religious establishment. Act respectable.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Things I Do For Science

Playing on the iPod: Something by the Tannahill Weavers
Meters swum today: 1700

Don't ask me how this happened, but it seems that some of the characters in Spellbinder will be fawning over an ancient artifact that, by most accounts, probably doesn't exist. It's a funerary breastplate, or maybe belly plate, that covers an Egyptian mummy over the place where the embalmers made the incision to pull out the, um, guts. There were once lots of them, or so the documents tell us, especially in the Amarna dynasty. However, as these things were made of solid gold, they tended to fall prey to tomb robbers, meddling adventurer archaeologists, embezzling Egyptian bureaucrats and the like. Here's a visual:

But anyway, I'm resurrecting one of 'em and sticking it in the book. Does the book have anything to do with ancient Egypt? Uh, no. Does the funerary plate form any great linchpin for the plot, or anything like that? Uh, no. I just happened to mention to my geologist time-traveling neocraftsperson friend Tammy that I was in need of an artifact of a certain size, that weighed a certain amount, that could be valued at a certain price, and this was what she came up with. So I said what the hell, and now I'm trying to figure out some of the technical details. Namely, how valuable is this thing anyway? Okay, it's made of gold and gold has some value, but how does one weigh an ancient, nonexistent funerary breastplate, er, excuse me, belly plate, in the terms of modern commerce?

I've failed in my attempts to Google "Value of Egyptian Amarna funerary belly plate" for some reason, but I did learn that one troy ounce of gold (whatever the hell that means) is approximately the same physical size as a sugar cube. Said sugar cube size piece of gold, circa 1998 when the tale is set, would have been worth an average of $291 (gold set an all time record low that year, dipping down to $250 before creeping back up again.) So, then, how many sugar cubes make a funerary belly plate?

I propose the following experiment:


1. Calculator
2. Sugar cubes (lots)
3. Small, malleable female willing to subject her belly to science. She can keep her clothes on.


1. Have the young lady lie down in the Osiris pose.
1A. Better buy her dinner first.
2. Cover her belly with sugar cubes. No tickling.
3. Gather up the sugar cubes and count them. Bonus points if none of them fall apart.
4. Take the number of sugar cubes, multiply it by $291, and that should be your average figure.

Now, if we used my belly, we'd get some ridiculous stratospheric figure. I've got a calculator and I've added sugar cubes to this week's shopping list (thanks, Joan!) Now all I need is a small, malleable female.

Any volunteers? Dinner's on me...


David Isaak said...

I'll get you a sugar cube estimate if you like--my sig other is rather petite--but I think the object would be worth much more on the black market for ancient art.

I'm not sure how you research that; it's not as if there's a Kelly Blue Book for looted artifacts. But becasue there isn't, you can assign it virtually any value without fear fo contradiction...

Jen Ster said...

Well, yeah, the art dealer does point out that if he sells it on the black market he can get three times its actual value. And if he sells it to Farooq Selod of 23 Rue de Chat que Fiche, Casablanca, Morocco, he can get quite a bit more than that. "Why?" asks the buyer. "Because that's the guy I stole it from," she says. But I may take you up on the sugar cube offer. There seems to be a dearth of petite gullible females around here for some reason.