A Breakthrough in Neopian Archaeology
Several months ago, a fascinating chapter of Neopian history was reopened when a gaggle of curious travelers stumbled upon the ancient city of Moltara.
It's no surprise that most Neopians were blown away by the discovery: this sub-subterranean city is unlike anything ever seen before, and its innovative, industrial genius is almost dizzying. But while most Neopians were dazzled and amazed, we archaeologists were busy connecting dots, and that quickly lead to a lot of scrambling for maps and history texts.
You may know by now that Moltara contains a massive obsidian quarry - but what you probably don't know is that it's the ONLY obsidian quarry ever discovered in Neopia.
While obsidian hasn't been used an awful lot in the tool-making industries of Neopia, it has been found in excavations at the Lost City of Geraptiku, where the rich volcanic glass was adapted by ancient inhabitants to be used in weaponry. But there isn't a single known obsidian quarry in Geraptiku. It might be feasible, if not a bit outlandish, to suggest that the tool-makers collected their material from some other, more distant quarry on Mystery Island, and carried it back to their city - but further investigations have lead to the conclusion that there aren't any quarries on Mystery Island at all. More troubling is the realization that there are no sizable quarries anywhere in Neopia.
For years this has been a baffling but scarcely addressed mystery to researchers: where did the obsidian come from, and how did the native peoples of Geraptiku obtain it?
The recent discoveries in Moltara may just have blown that mystery wide open.
The original inhabitants of Moltara founded the city for many reasons, including, notably, the abundance of obsidian that can be found in its central quarry. They have classically used this wonderful natural resource in nearly every aspect of their lives. And with the city itself being located so close to Mystery Island, is it any wonder that archaeologists everywhere are scrambling to reconstruct the ancient relationship which, almost certainly, existed between the city of Moltara and the Lost City of Geraptiku?
Among the most startling theories is one proposed last month by a veteran archaeologist named Fisker Bugg, whose research has focused primarily on Maraquan trade techniques. During the bi-annual DIGG (Desert Investigations and Geraptiku Groundwork) conference, he came forward with a decidedly outrageous picture of ancient Geraptikuan life: in stark contrast to the classic and mainstream view of the Geraptikuans as a tribal, tropic-based civilization, Dr. Bugg proposed that the ancient peoples must have been oceanic divers.
Dr. Bugg's theory is especially topical in light of the discovery of Moltara; which, having been constructed beneath the surface of the Earth and beneath the waters which stretch for miles between Mystery Island and the outlying shores of the Altador sub-continent, must have required extensive oceanographic exploration.
In an almost unmistakable display of his partiality for studying sub-ocean civilizations (as mentioned above), Dr. Bugg proposed that the original inhabitants of Mystery Island were descended from the inhabitants of Maraqua - which he controversially claims to be the oldest civilization in Neopia - and that they reached their new home in Geraptiku only after years of wandering the ocean. During those years, Dr. Bugg explained at the conference, they settled briefly in several small island networks which they traversed, including the islands immediately above what is now Moltara. He believes those seafarers exploited some of the obsidian quarry as they alternated between living above and below the surface, and when they left, they took some of the obsidian with them on their journey to Geraptiku.
Dr. Bugg paints a picture of ancient seafarers who branched out from Maraqua and populated the Earth, including Mystery Island and, by extension, Moltara. This picture is riddled with inconsistencies. Firstly, the ancient inhabitants of Geraptiku have never been historically perceived as water creatures, and their cultural artifacts do not leave any indication of an ancient Maraquan homeland. Secondly, notably, the Maraquans are not, nor have they ever been, subterranean dwellers, divers, or diggers. If they had indeed passed above the site of Moltara, they would not have known how to penetrate the surface of the earth to gain access to the obsidian quarry beneath.
Fisker Bugg's theory has not been widely received by the archaeological community, much to his dismay. Nevertheless, his proposal comes at a time where almost anything must be considered a valid possibility; and truly, there are currently few propositions to cling to.
Thus far, research has been slim. We have more answers now than we have questions; perhaps the original peoples of Geraptiku cultivated obsidian from the quarry long before Moltara was founded; perhaps the people of Moltara left collections of the obsidian on the surface when they began construction, and the people of Geraptiku opportunistically seized it; perhaps there was a trade route between the cities.
It is curious to note, too, that the obsidian found at Geraptiku was used exclusively in the production of daggers. This perhaps suggests that the creators were aware of the material's high potential to be sharpened and used for weaponry, but did not favor it over other materials in the production of jewelry, ornamentation, or practical everyday objects. It may alternately suggest that the daggers were obtained from an outlying society - almost certainly Moltara, as they had exclusive access to the materials - through trade. Further investigation into the artifacts of Moltara may shed light on this possibility; as of yet, archaeologists have not found any specific artifacts which appear to have originated on Mystery Island, but their presence would certainly confirm, to some extent, that there was at least some form of trade between the two civilizations.
There is much work to be done in the research of Moltara and Geraptiku, but for the first time archaeologists are beginning to see these two ancient cities in a new, mutualistic light. We may never know for certain how the peoples interacted or indeed if they ever interacted at all, but one thing is certain: we know the obsidian of the Lost City had to have come from somewhere, and now we know exactly where that is.