Treasure Hunting and Mining


My first ambition as a young girl was to be an archaeologist. I was very lucky to spend a lot of time at the Metropolitan Museum of Art among the mummies and the temple of Dendur. I abandoned that interest to something equally stimulating but perhaps more lucrative and flexible – computer science.

I am doing a deep dive into Egypt this week, as a way to connect with the things that I enjoyed as a child. Early archaeology was treasure hunting, plunder, it was not necessarily about reconstructing a vanished culture. Treasure hunting did logically connect with detective work.

The idea that I would go and find some buried treasure was never even a thought in my head. Although I now fnd that very exciting. I imagine what it would be like to be with Howard Carter when he first entered Tutankhamun’s tomb, and how exciting that must have been, or to have been someone from the middle ages and coming upon buried treasure. I imagine the search for treasure, analogous to the philosopher’s stone of the alchemist, as inspired many explorations and experiments.

People still treasure hunt. I suppose that is what antique road show is about. There are also treasure hunting forums online as I just discovered. However now I think about mining. Space X is not going to outer space to treasure hunt but to mine.

What is mining? Mining is perhaps as old as treasure hunting. There are 4000 year old flint mines. Mining involves work, it sounds unpleasant, harmful to the miners and the environment. Mining is extractive. Perhaps there is no such thing as treasure. Perhaps treasure hunting is really about circular economies. Perhaps treasure is trash and trash is treasure. Treasure is not extractive in the same way as mining. There is a publicly traded treasure hunting company – odyssey marine exploration. They first started looking for treasure on sunken ships. They have moved into mining. Perhaps Mining is more repeatable than hunting for treasure. The first being calculated risk, the second being more akin to playing the lotto. But really… is that really the case.

There are video games about mining and video games about treasure hunting.

Why am I talking about this? Mining / treasure hunting. Two sides of the same coin. To impulses to action. I think about Goonies, pirates of the caribbean, I think of adventure and intrigue. Mining makes me think of misery. Reading timeloops, there is the idea that when you remember a past prophecy you are creating meaning. Finding treasure works in a similar way. You are some how engaged in history or narrative.

Thats it – back to the egyptians.

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