She is present. She is also a paleobotanist. Her and the her colleague show me how to break open and split the shale stones. Inside, we first find a beautifully intact compression fossil of a leaf. Then we carefully chip away and remove thin layers with images in relief. They are warped like Pringles and turn out to be pages of a petrified book. Before separation, the pages look like striations in sedimentary stone. One layer, or page, is covered in a fine ultramarine blue chalky coating—this is similar to how I imagine forests and plants would look, covered in ash in their first stages of preservation, en route to fossilization. Rather than in ash or clay, this vivid blue stone page seems to have been preserved in pigment or some kind of lapis lazuli sediment from a yet to be discovered period in what can no longer be termed prehistory. Debossed in the page, are some cross between hieroglyphic and runic designs. On closer inspection they also look like the branching systems of filamentous cyanobacteria, those elusive and debated earliest microfossils of the Archean age, "shadows on the rocks" as described in the book Fossil Plants(1). The bacterial rune figures are grey-white and rusty-persimmon, as if the blue layer had been scratched away to reveal the other colors bellow. I spend the rest of the dream worrying about how to safely transfer the delicate findings and seeking a place to pee in what turns out to be 2017 BC.
(1) "Among the larger of fossils that have been attributed to the algae, most are little more than silhouettes on the rocks. The affinities of these shadowy organisms remain controversial and ultimately often indecipherable." - Davies, Paul & Kenrick, Paul, Fossil Plants, 2004, p.16-17
The exhibition is supported by
CBK R'DAM and Austrian Embassy Kosovo