Humans have been burying their dead for 100,000 years. A common test to become a gravedigger involves digging a standard grave - 3 by 8 feet and 5 feet down - in less than four hours.
In nature, evidence of life remains preserved in the hardened amber of ancient trees and recorded in the earth’s crust through fossilization. Humans, before their death and burial, are preserved in other ways - through memories and illustrations, photographs and x-rays.
Part of the burial process typically involves embalming the body and placing it in a vessel, stalling decomposition. The advent of eco-caskets, bio-cremation and human composting encourage the deterioration of the body in carbon rich material, allowing microbes and enzymes to dissolve the tissue, fertilizing the soil, from which new life can grow.
Often, an artificial turf is placed around the grave following a burial. This is for aesthetic reasons only and serves no other real purpose.
In the 1930s, Russian archeologists discovered the first of a series of birch bark manuscripts in the remote province of Nogvorogard. The documents were miraculously preserved, kept moist for five centuries between layers of subterranean peat moss. One archeologist described the bark as almond colored, with fuscia rings, nearly resembling skin and that it looked alive, “like a worm exposed from beneath an overturned stone.” This 8 1/2 X 11 script drastically altered previous scholarship of Slavic history and the eastern regions of the former Soviet Union.
This discovery begs the questioning of other perceived truths, perhaps as easily disproven by an object hidden from our view, in the ground beneath our feet: a computer made of vegetables, pre-historic photographs, an alternative to gasoline.
Recently, a popular wine was discovered to have percentages of certain substances that exceeded federal regulations. Apparently, that year an unusual number of egrets were caught in the netted fencing, and when the grapes were harvested, vineyard workers neglected to remove the birds, resulting in an unlawful number of their bones in the final batch.
The word trace can mean exactly that; an almost undetectable quantity of a substance, typically of unknown or unintended origin. It can also mean to outline, to circumnavigate a shape, to make that shape an island in space. To trace can mean to look for, to search and conversely a vestige of something that has disappeared.