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The Explorers Logs give you glimpses of the different civilisations and treasures included in Museum, and how they were discovered by the game’s intrepid adventurers!

Article from THE GUARDIAN, May 15th 1844

An amazing discovery in Cambridgeshire ! 

The astounding discovery was made last week in Grunty Fen, Cambridgeshire, 60 miles North of London. While digging for peat, Nicolas N. (the individual’s true name has been changed) found something that could very well change his life…

Buried in shallow soil, Mr N. unearthed a veritable treasure trove of Celtic artefacts, including an extraordinarily well-preserved war chariot, a bronze shield and a solid gold torc weighing over 18 ounces. Unsure as to what to do with his amazing find, he went to his local Town Hall to ask for advice, and a telegram was immediately addressed to the British Museum. An expert sent from London was able to confirm the importance of his discovery without delay.

After examining the items, his first conclusions were that all of the objects date from 3000 B.C, and that the unusually large solid gold torc dates and could have belonged to a pregnant woman or been used as ornamentation on an animal to be sacrificed. Ancient East Anglia used to be home to large populations of Celtic tribes who left many such traces of their presence in the South of England. This find, despite being a precious object indeed, is far from the first discovery of this nature in the area – one can but think of the majestic Stone Henge, which dates back to the same period.

So, loyal readers, take up your shovels and search the soils of Cambridgeshire, as the law is most clear on the matter of compensation for such finds. Mr N. will receive half of the objects’ combined value, for which the British Museum has already offered the princely sum of ten thousand pounds, and Cambridge University has yet to bid. Unless, of course, he decides to offer them as a gift to our illustrious young Queen Victoria!

One thing is for certain – he will not be permitted to keep them and must accept half of the proffered sum, which is, for a man of his means, a more than adequate compensation.

Stay vigilant during your afternoon promenades, as fortune could await you just below the surface…

For The GUARDIAN
                                                                                                                      Walter Jennings

Travel log of James Harvey Dempson, special envoy of the Royal Imperial Museum of London to Mexico.

17 August 1848

We arrived on the Mauritania in the suffocating heat after a relatively uneventful crossing. I was met by Lord Albert at the British Embassy, who had been informed of my imminent arrival and had obtained all of the necessary permissions from the Mexican authorities. He had also found a very competent local guide who knows Yucatan well, assuring us that he would be of great help. In a few days, our preparations will be complete, and we will be on our way.

21 August 1848

Our journey begins! As discretion is of utmost importance, we have but a very limited number of porters for the expedition. We will be a group of just fifteen, which will include twelve natives, along with four mules for our equipment. Sir Harvey and I will make do with minimal comforts. As we are both good shots, we shall defend the group ourselves. We have also commissioned a young painter to accompany us, who will provide detailed sketches of all of our discoveries. If what I’ve heard about this place is true, he will be busy indeed…

24 August 1848

As soon as the train arrived in Flores, we set off. Our guide is not the most proficient English speaker, but he seems to know what we’re looking for. He claims that our journey will be far longer and more perilous than we had originally expected, but it will take more than such warnings to turn me away.

26 August 1848

We’ve now been travelling for two days, making very little progress through a jungle whose thickness beggars belief. All too often, we’re reduced to hacking our way through with machetes, our progress agonizingly slow. The heat is unbearable and we are constantly harassed by huge mosquitoes, clouds of bats and leeches, as though the land is reminding us that we are not welcome here. But I will not falter. Our informers reported the presence of huge ruins deep within the jungle, which could be the Mayan site of Tikal. If we could but find it…

30 August 1848

Six days into our journey, and exhaustion is setting in. Sir Harvey has contracted a fever which saps his strength, and the group has slowed to a crawl. Nothing else to report…sometimes we come across, if not roads, then at least grassy tracks which show some sign of human presence, giving us some small respite from the oppressive presence of the jungle, which seems to go on forever, hemming us in. Oh, for a sign that we are at least heading in the right direction…

31 August 1848

One of the mules broke a leg among the roots of the monstrous trees, and we had to put the poor beast out of its misery. I’m beginning to fear that we will be forced to return empty-handed. I don’t think I could bear the shame.

02 September 1848

At last! This morning our guide climbed up above the tree canopy, and claimed to have spotted a large clearing to the east. Aside from all our previous hopes of glory, we’re in desperate need of a suitable, less hostile place to rest. Sir Harvey’s fever has subsided but his condition is still a concern. And yet I can’t help but feel a glimmer of hope that an incomparable discovery is just within reach, so close! I’m torn between weariness and excitement…what will tomorrow bring?

03 September 1848

Words fail me. After three hours of painfully slow progress, we escaped the clutches of the jungle at last, to discover a site that was beyond my wildest dreams. A wondrous city that seems to go on for miles, with towering square buildings that are still very much intact in spite of a thick covering of vegetation! But what beauty! Duncan has been sketching and painting feverishly for hours, while we attempt to find some clue that might help us to identify the site. Such a pity that there are so few of us. Many of the enigmatic signs and glyphs on the buildings have been worn away by weather and time, making them difficult to decipher. We are going to clear a space on the main plaza to set up our camp and finally get some rest! Tomorrow, we will continue to explore the site.

07 September 1848

I’m now absolutely certain that we are at the heart of an immense Mayan city, most probably Tikal. I’ve collected a few small, easily transportable objects that will return to London with us. I wish I could bring more, but after the loss of our mule we are already overburdened. Duncan is drawing as much of the site as possible to provide proof of our discovery and to record the parts that we have already explored. We will return at a later date, better manned and equipped, and conduct a more thorough search. It pains me to leave, but I will return as soon as I am able. The city will have to wait…

Letter from Auguste Sabatier
Sent from Cairo, 30th march 1903

Dearest Mother,

Please forgive me for not having sent correspondence sooner, but I hope that you will better understand once I have explained the reason for my silence.

I know that my departure for Egypt caused you great pain, but I have always felt deep within my soul that the Orient holds endless opportunities for one such as I! For weeks now, I have been contacting the Egyptian Service of Antiquities, in the hope of being able to join one of their planned expeditions. Tensions are high here with the British, who are trying to deprive their rivals of any finds by increasing their number of digs to a scandalous degree.

At last, my persistence was repaid. I succeeded in joining a French archaeological team as their photographer, who were leaving to secretly search a previously unknown site in the valley of Saqqarah. We had to leave very early and be sure that we were not followed. We were also under strict orders to speak of our mission to no one, which has been the reason for my silence.

I was most surprised to discover that the expedition was under the command of none other than renowned Parisian egyptologist Mr George Aaron Bénédite, who had travelled to the area for the occasion. We left under the cover of night accompanied by a large number of indiginous porters, for a voyage that was the most exhausting I have ever undertaken! Mother, the heat here is more intense than any we can experience at home.

I will spare you the details of the monotonous trip, as what we discovered after a week of digging is more captivating by far. Buried under tons of sand, we uncovered an extraordinarily beautiful mastaba, filled with astounding objects! Bénédite was excited almost to the point of incoherence, and claimed that the tomb belongs to a certain Akhethetep. I had but a few hours to photograph all of the objects discovered, as well as an ensemble called the “chapel”, which he plans to take back to the Louvre. He seems most satisfied with my work, which fills me with pride and hope for the future. 

Museum egyptian artefacts

By the time you read this letter, I have no doubt that the press will have spoken of the discovery. Know that all of the photographs that you see in “Le petit Journal” or “L’Aurore” are the work of your son! For now, I will remain here, in this land where there is still so much to be discovered, and to whose infinite beauty my humble photographs struggle to do justice. I promise to send correspondence as often as I can.

Your loving son,                    

Auguste

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