Archaeology and the couch

An old couch teaches an important lesson. 

Michael A. Thom 

It was a momentous day at our house. We had bought a new couch. Our old couch was 20 years old and should have been replaced five years ago. The springs were shot. The fabric was holey. How bad was it? It was so bad even the garbage man didn’t even want it. 

What do you do with a couch that bad? Well, if you have three sons old enough to attack and destroy, that’s what you do. You drag it out to the garage, get out the chain, mace, and dagger (or whatever your kids might call implements of destruction), and let them have at it. 

Two hours later, nothing was left but the carnage. After stuffing the last large chunks into the garbage bin, I started sweeping the floor and noticing all the interesting things that had fallen out of the couch. 

You know, I thought, a person could use this stuff to teach his kids something about archaeology. So I gathered up a few artifacts and went back into the house. 

Forgotten items 

I went into the room where my daughter and two sons were playing computer games. 

“You can really learn something about archaeology from the stuff in that couch,” I began. “Look at this. Archaeology is a dirty business, isn’t it?” Everything was covered with dust balls. 

“Archaeologists have a really hard job. First they find things that belonged to someone who lived many years ago. Then they try to figure out what those objects were used for or what they meant in those people’s lives.” 

I held up one of the items I had discovered. “Can you guess what this is and what it was used for?” 

I was holding a small, round, yellow, plastic disk with a hole in the middle. None of the younger children could guess what it was, but our oldest daughter knew. 

“That’s the thing you put in the middle of a record,” she said 

“They had records when you were little?” Our youngest son was amazed at the longevity of his eldest sister. Isn’t that interesting? Our daughter was less than 20 years old, but in that short time the concept of “records” was already beginning to fade into the past. 

Several other items were easily recognized: a letter from 1991, a rubber dart from a dart gun, a popsicle stick. 

“If someone discovered this popsicle stick a hundred years from now, do you think they would know what it is and what is was used for?” I asked. 

“Sure,” my daughter said. “They will always have popsicles.” 

“I’m not so sure,” I replied. 

An enduring message 

Then I showed them one last artifact. It was a green and yellow embroidered bookmark in the shape of a cross. 

“Do you think that people will know what this is in a hundred years?” I asked. 

This time there was no doubt about the answer. The answer was yes. No matter how many years pass, no matter how many inventions come into use and then become obsolete, there is one thing that will not become a forgotten remnant of the past: the cross! 

God wants all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. He wants everyone to know that Jesus is the Savior whose life, death, and resurrection mean eternal life for all who believe in him. It is his will that the message of the cross of Christ endure forever. 

And so it will. 

In the cross of Christ I glory,
Tow’ring o’er the wrecks of time.
All the light of sacred story
Gathers round its head sublime. (Christian Worship 345:1) 


Michael Thom is a member at St. John, New Ulm, Minnesota. 


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Author: Michael A. Thom
Volume 106, Number 1
Issue: January 2019

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