A massive top secret government project known as the Time Tunnel was built to launch mankind into the past and the future. In order for the travelers to get to their destination, they needed to walk through a nine-foot drum that spun around creating this kaleidoscope effect, making them feel like they were flying through the shaft into the past or the future. Bradley and Jessica were scientists that were selected to go back to ancient Mesopotamia to witness the greatest party ever thrown. Bradley was involved with the creation of this time tunnel and he designed the pulsating power-core of this complex, which was frightening, as it was constantly spitting out sparks and smoking profusely, but he told Jessica that there was nothing to worry about. Jessica holds a doctorate as a Professor of Art History and she is an expert on the Neo-Assyrian Empire thus she picked out clothes for them to wear, so they would fit in and go unnoticed. The region was open to invasion and trade, therefore they spoke a wide variety of languages and Jessica was proficient in both Akkadian and Aramaic and as a result that, language would not be a problem for them, as long as Bradley kept quiet.
Jessica was a former beauty pageant winner, and she was strikingly beautiful, and the plan was for her to pose as the Queen of Qal’at Sherqat and Bradley would be her servant. She wanted to investigate concepts of beauty and attractiveness in ancient cultures, and to explore how these concepts relate to gender, hierarchy and power. This required Jessica to stand above all other mortal women as a paragon of ideal beauty and imperial power, who dressed to impress, emulating the appearance of beauty that connected her to the Akkadian goddess Tashmetu which the people held in high regard. Jessica was not sure that she could pull off this look of representing a microcosm of the universe while expressing mortal, metaphysical and divine beauty, but this was a lifetime opportunity for her, and she was not going to miss out on it.
The king of Assyria Ashurnasirpal II invited almost 70,000 people to this inaugural event that celebrated the completion of his new city of Kalhu, so this was thought to be the perfect place for these time travelers to go visit. Ashurnasirpal invited the whole country to attend and visit his extravagant palace, and with all the dignitaries coming from foreign lands, this would allow Jessica and Bradley to stay incognito, concealing their true identities. Ashurnasirpal hosted this grand affair because he wanted to be recorded in history for future generations and this was the perfect place for the time tunnel to lock onto. The city of Kalhu had no rival and everyone wanted to see what he had accomplished. The party would last for ten days with everyone being given food, and drink, being bathed, and anointed, so they could be sent back to their lands in peace and joy and taking about this party for the rest of their lives.
When Jessica and Bradley arrived at the palace, the party was just kicking off and they were introduced to the real Queen of Qal’at Sherqat, which made their plan go down the tubes, but she was quick on her feet, and she introduced herself as a dignitary from the province of Anatolia. They survived that close call and then Bradley wanted to try some of the beer that everyone else was enjoying, just to see how it compared to the Budweiser that he drinks. Since Bradley was introduced as a servant, he was asked to help carry these large vats of beer and after he finished his work, he was allowed to indulge in this daily staple that was an essential component of social life.
Ancient Mesopotamians are known for their sexual appetites and prostitution was widely practiced in this time period. The king hired many women to satisfy the sexual desires of all of his guests. These girls mostly came from the lower classes, and they prostituted themselves to fulfill debt-related obligations in the hope of escaping poverty. Jessica knew that this was a customary display of immorality, having naked women at dinner parties who were willing to engage in whatever service was required of them, but even though she was not a prude, she found this totally shocking that the mating went on for ten days. This was considered to be an honorable occupation, because it was pleasing to the gods. The prostitute was skilled in making the bedchamber delightful, which was food for the men that could afford them. The nude women would cup their breasts to advertise their services letting all the guests know that they were ready and available.
Jessica collected all the information that she was looking for and she told Bradley that it was time for them to head back home. Bradley replied that this sounded like a brilliant idea, but he had not perfected how they were going to return to their own time period yet, however he would be able to have them jump to a new place in time. Jessica was mad at Bradley for not letting he know that they would be lost in the vortex of time, but she had enough of this place and said, “Let’s get the blank out of here!”
Written for Sadje at Keep It Alive What Do You See #165.