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Archaeology, Xbox, and the Legendary E.T. Video Game

 

USA Today, among others, recently reported that original TV series to be produced for the new Xbox TV will focus on the story of the E.T. video game for the original Atari videogame console. The game is often considered the worst video game ever released, and according to legend, millions of unsold or returned game cartridges were buried in a landfill in Alamagordo, New Mexico in 1983.

The documentary reportedly will include an excavation of the landfill in an attempt to find the remains of the E.T. game cartridges. Paul Mullins has been on top of this story:

An excavation of the Atari dump does not promise an especially compelling material analysis as much as it plumbs the complexities of memory and dissects the intersection of popular imagination and materiality… It seems unlikely that the recovery of any discarded ET games or Atari gaming systems will radically rewrite our understanding of Atari or the broader industry in the early 1980s, …Yet the process of digging the dump—the literal theater of an excavation—is what Fuel is leveraging when observers invoke the project as “archaeology.”

On Open Public Records and Public History

An interesting post here about one historian’s experience trying to get permission to take digital photos of public documents from the 1890s:

“My request to take flash-free digital photos was rebuffed despite my explanation that it would be better for the aging documents than forcing them flat against a copier’s glass platen and then closing the machine’s cover.”

Rediscovering Lost Movie Sites

Filming sites of early silent movies survive in New York and New Jersey and many dedicated researchers are rediscovering them and documenting their existence.

Surveying Silent Film Sites

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Photo source: New York Times, Fort Lee Film Commission. “Theda Bara, left, filmed in “Carmen” in about 1915 in Fort Lee, N.J., vamping on a rock still visible at an apartment complex on Main Street.”

Retracing artillery officer and bookstore owner Henry Knox’s Noble Train of Artillery

A master of logistics, bookseller turned artillerist. Henry Knox fought in the American Revolution at Bunker Hill, Trenton, Princeton, and Monmouth. His most epic achievement was a six week midwinter slog through New York and Massachusetts to bring 59 cannons to the heights of Boston, thereby forcing the British to retreat from the city.

In the 1920s, a series of plaques were set up along the route. Now, one man is walking the trail:

“Dave Fagerberg hiked all the way from Ticonderoga to Mechanicville, following the route Col. Henry Knox used in winter 1775-76…

“Fagerberg is planning a return trip East and will resume his march from Mechanicville to Boston on August 23rd.

“The main purpose of walking historic trails is to create more public awareness,” said Fagerberg, an avid French & Indian War re-enactor.

“Many people don’t know what is right in their own backyard. My ultimate goal is to have the Knox Trail become a national historic trail.”

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Article here

More information and the location of the plaques can be found here.

Historic Preservation … on the Moon!

I’m a week or two late with this news, but here it is:

“Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.), the top-ranking Democrat on the House Space Subcommittee, proposed legislation on Tuesday, along with Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Tex), to establish the National Historical Park on the moon under the Apollo Lunar Landing Legacy Act. The designation would protect the site where Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first touched down on the lunar surface in July 1969.”

The Department of the Interior and NASA would be jointly in charge of protecting the artifacts remaining on the surface of the moon from the Apollo 11 through Apollo 17 missions, which ended in 1973, while the Smithsonian Institute would help ensure an accurate cataloging of the items, which include flags, a memorial to fallen astronauts, lunar landers, a golf ball and a moon car.”

Rest at International Business Times

In case you were worried about the United States attempting to claim sovereignty over the moon, the act would apply only to the artifacts on the moon, not the land itself. The actual bill is pretty short, and you can read it here, where you can see that the park would be composed of:

      “(1) the artifacts on the surface of the Moon associated with the Apollo 11 mission, which landed on the lunar surface July 20, 1969, at Mare Tranquillitatis;
      (2) the artifacts on the surface of the Moon associated with the Apollo 12 mission, which landed on the lunar surface November 19, 1969, at Oceanus Procellarum;
      (3) the artifacts on the surface of the Moon associated with the Apollo 13 mission, which had an instrumentality crash land on the lunar surface April 14, 1970;
      (4) the artifacts on the surface of the Moon associated with the Apollo 14 mission, which landed on the lunar surface February 5, 1971, at Fra Mauro;
      (5) the artifacts on the surface of the Moon associated with the Apollo 15 mission, which landed on the lunar surface July 30, 1971, at Hadley-Apennines;
      (6) the artifacts on the surface of the Moon associated with the Apollo 16 mission, which landed on the lunar surface April 21, 1972, at Descartes; and
      (7) the artifacts on the surface of the Moon associated with the Apollo 17 mission, which landed on the lunar surface December 11, 1972, at Taurus-Littrow.”

Moon photo courtesy of NASA:

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