Post-Apocalyptic Archaeology #1 – Contemporary Accounts

by battleaxebunny

Right then, ladies, tempting as it is to dive straight into tomb raidery fun – the first thing we need to talk about is research. Do you know how your apocalypse began? Do you know how to stop it getting worse? Do you know where the other communities of survivors are living? Do you know if they’re friendly or a bunch of insane cannibals who worship brand name gods? If the answer to any of this is no, then finding out what’s been happening is your first priority.

How easy this will be will depend a great deal on how long it has been since your apocalypse event was triggered. If it’s been many years since the world went a bit haywire, then be prepared for missing or exaggerated information as stories alter through the years. But if the apocalypse event has only just happened then there’s a better chance of the majority of facts gathered being accurate, so now is the perfect time to collate survivors’ accounts. You need to know how the apocalypse started, who was involved, if there’s any danger of it happening again and what the post-event reaction was. (Future generations will thank you for this. Future history students, however, may want to throttle you for providing so many primary sources for them to comb through and write essays on.)

Collecting Information

Now the fun bit: travelling around and talking to people. This is where you’ll need to be equal parts investigative journalist, spy, explorer and ass-kicking adventurer. (If you can’t manage all these skills at the same time, then make sure you hang with a crew who can help out. Especially with the ass-kicking. There’s likely to be a lot of that needed.)

Start with your local community. Find out where everyone has come from – if they’re from the place you’ve settled into then prod them for stories about what happened when the apocalypse hit; if they’re from elsewhere then as well as finding out what happened in their home town, you can pester them for accounts of their travels, stories they may have heard from other travellers, danger spots, resource dumps, other settlements they may have passed through or avoided. Anything you can find out will help your community in the long run and give you all a better chance of surviving.

Once you’ve tapped everyone local for their stories (or found someone who can continue to do so in your absence) then it’s time for story-gathering adventures on the road.

Your priority should be finding out where and how the apocalypse started (unless the apocalypse was caused by a natural disaster then you’ll already know the essentials), but you also need to find out about the other settlements near you. Not least – who they are, if they’re willing to trade or lend teachers for skills your own community is missing, if they need to be avoided and what they know of other settlements and the start of the apocalypse. This is important because you can’t be certain that there won’t be more related trouble to follow and you shouldn’t rely on someone else to find out these things and pass it along. Plus making new friends is always a good thing.

Finding out the source of the apocalypse will depend on the apocalypse that has just been.

If some naughty virus was to blame, then you’ll need to know if there’s any vials of something nastier lurking in the same place or if there’s an antivirus. You’ll also need to know if the idiots who created it are planning further shenanigans because the last thing you need is a more advanced strain wiping out the survivors. Or a mutated super-monster. Or a mutated super-monster carrying an advanced strain who will turn other survivors into more mutated super-monsters.

With an alien apocalypse, the key will be learning about your enemy and finding out their weakness so you can spread the intel to the rebel forces and help with the retaking of your planet. There’s a good chance you won’t actually understand anything the aliens are saying or what’s in their written records or computer systems (unless you happen to have a linguist savant in your crew. Or a psychic. Or a half-breed sleeper agent who’s gone native. Or a rebel alien from the invading/another repressed race who, quite handily, knows English or the dominant language of your region. Or Daniel Jackson. ) – so the key here will be sneaking in as close as you can and observing them. If they’ve captured any humans, then you’re on Team Jailbreak and there’ll be useful things to be learned from the prisoners.

The same can be said about a faerie apocalypse, although you may find that some of the faerie forces are amenable to compromise that lets both them and the surviving human race share the world. (And there’s a better a chance of them having a common language you understand.) Find out what they want, find out what they’d be willing to bend on, and if they’re being difficult then find out where their main base is and where their weak spots are then get the hell out of there and regroup with the rebel forces. (Unless there’s some mystic doohickey in the heart of their fortress that you and your crew are confident about getting to and destroying to send them back to faerie-land.)

A machine/AI uprising apocalypse will give you a wealth of digital information for your records but you might find it a bit hazardous to get at it. EMP blasters will come in handy here, although there’s the risk of all digital data getting lost after use. Make sure you have a genius hacker on your team as you’ll need help dealing with the machines’ surveillance and having someone who can code a machine virus on the fly is always handy.

Share the Love

Once you’ve found things out, don’t keep them to yourself. The key is to document everything. Even the things you take for granted. Get images. Digital data may be of questionable use if the power is a bit dodgy so try and print out paper copies, then make copies of the copies and stash them somewhere that will stay safe long term.

And spread it around. Tell people what you know and what you’ve found. Give copies of gathered histories to other settlements so they have their own history archives. If getting hard copy documents is difficult then collect stories and tell them to everyone you meet so they can pass them on. The content may alter slightly depending on the teller, but the essentials should remain relatively intact. Find artistic types to write songs or paint pictures of events. The important thing is the transfer of information and keeping it in the collective consciousness.

Always remember: knowledge is good – a well informed survivor will last longer and increase the life expectancy of those around them.

battleaxebunny out.

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