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Fri, Oct 24, 2014 02:03 PM
Issue of October 22, 2014

A hope note
A hope note
Dr. Wayne Willis reflects on life and hope.

Grounded in discovery

August 13, 2014 | 09:32 AM

Three of the greatest discoveries of our time were right under our feet all the time.

In 1947, a shepherd boy searching in the Judean desert for a stray goat accidentally discovered the Dead Sea Scrolls. When he threw a rock, as boys are wont to do, into a dark cave, he heard something break. That something was a jar holding ancient scrolls. Thus began the unearthing of a vast 2,000-year-old library that included the oldest manuscripts of Jewish sacred scriptures and many other previously unknown writings by the Essenes, a small religious sect.

In 1974, peasants digging a well in a drought-parched province in northwest China unearthed fragments of a clay figure. Near the unexcavated tomb of Qin Shi Huangdi, who had proclaimed himself China's first emperor 2,200 years ago, that one clay figure led to the discovery of 600 underground vaults across a 22-square-mile area. The vaults contained an entire army of about 7,000 life-size terra-cotta soldiers, horses and birds. Some are calling that underground army the eighth wonder of the world, right up there with the Great Wall of China.

In 1998, when he was 20 years old, Bucky Derflinger, a rancher and rodeo cowboy in South Dakota, spotted a foot-long bone punching out of the ground. He and his father would soon learn that it was the toe bone of a juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton, the sixth most complete Tyrannosaurus rex ever discovered.

The dinosaur's skeleton, named Bucky after its finder, and the Chinese terra-cotta warriors are now on display at The Children's Museum in Indianapolis.

Environmentalist Wendell Berry wrote: "What I stand for is what I stand on." It sometimes makes a huge difference when we pay closer attention to and show greater affection for the ground beneath us.

Dr. Wayne Willis

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Corydon Democrat, 301 N. Capitol Ave., Corydon, IN 47112 1-812-738-2211 email