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Out Of Place Artifact
An artifact that makes no sense being where it is found.
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(permanent link) added: 2012-03-01 12:10:29 sponsor: Wooboo (last reply: 2012-11-24 13:47:42)

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(Do We Have This One?? Also, it could probably use a snappier title and probably some linking work. Perhaps separating the types of artifacts into categories like a sliding scale would also be a good idea? Also, I confess, I am no expert with the scripting here, so that probably needs a fix or two. Or ten.)

Greame: Any idea what these are?
Sebastian: No, you?
Greame: No.
Maxwell: Well it's a good thing we brought the experts.
Greame: Yeah it is a good thing, because this is like finding Moses' DVD collection..

Alice the Archeologist is doing excavation work in an old temple, when she suddenly finds a strange artifact. It's clearly not something anyone else has ever found there, because it simply does not fit there. Maybe it's a bottle cap imbedded in the stonework of a pyramid in Ancient Egypt, or it could be a supercomputer in the pharaoh's tomb. Alice has just found an OOP Art, or an Out Of Place Artifact.

Out Of Place Artifacts are Exactly What It Says on the Tin, artifacts that do not fit at all with the established history of the civilization that it was found with. In fiction, these are often the story's MacGuffin's, driving the plot and resulting in a frantic race to find them or protect them from the enemy, acting on it's own as a great power or the key to even more crazy ancient tech. Frequently, these are the calling cards of time travelers or sufficiently advanced ancient astronauts or even Eldritch Abominations, though could just as likely be be something as simple as finding a a viking helmet in the sealed tomb of a Han Dynasty Emperor. Since this typically involves people going into dusty old tombs to find them, expect this to show up a lot in Adventure Archeologist stories and the reason why Hitler gets a jetpack.

Compare Schizo Tech, where the society with the crazy, mixed-up technology could just as likely be the current one, or even the future and most importantly, is still around to explain just what the hell is going on.

Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: {{Anime&Manga}}]]
  • A driving force behind the plot of Spriggan.

[[folder:Films]]
  • Indiana Jones frequently discovers these, but perhaps most (in)famously played in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
  • The above quote is just the tip of the iceberg, literally for the cast of Aliens Versus Predator, with an entire pyramid showing up in the middle of Mysterious Antarctica.
  • Stargate has this as the way the heroes get to the alien planet that serves as the setting, with the OOP Art in question being an alien portal device found in an Egyptian ruin.

[[folder:Literature]]
  • Sphere starts off with the protagonists being asked to investigate a mysterious ship found at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, which is thought to be an alien spacecraft. As it turns out, it's a time travel machine from the U.S, carrying an even stranger artifact.
  • Occasionally crops up in Clive Cussler's works, due to Dirk Pitt's status as an Adventure Archeologist. One example is Sahara, where Dirk chases down leads taking him to a Confederate Ironclad in the middle of the Sahara Desert, though there is a perfectly good reason for it being there.
  • The H.P. Lovecraft story At The Mountains of Madness has the protagonists discover a temple complex created by the Elder Things, a race of Starfish Alien Ancient Astronauts.

[[folder:VideoGames]]
  • A frequent plot device in Tomb Raider, pretty much the framework of the plots for every game except 2.
  • Endless Ocean has the character frequently discover OOP Arts, with both games used to find the remnants of an ancient civilization.
  • The "Pieces of Eden" in the Assassin's Creed series.

[[folder:RealLife]]
  • The Crystal Skulls. Claimed to have been discovered in a Mayan temple, and made out of pure quartz, one of the hardest minerals to cut and sculpt and way outside the technological capabilities of the Mayans. Most however, regard it as nothing more than a forgery.
  • A more mundane example is the Tecaxic-Calixtlahuaca Head. It shares similarities to Roman sculpture, but was found in a Mexican archeological dig.

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