The Ziggurat Scrolls are a trove of ancient documents purportedly discovered by the famous archeologist Sir Rumsfeld Tiggerwort near the Dagger Seas in -7 EC. The scrolls primarily concern the mythological figure the Budgerigar Master, although their exact interpretation is currently a subject of scholarly debate. They are currently housed in the Odlucian Library.
Content of the Scrolls
The Ziggurat Scrolls recount a series of epic poems about the Budgerigar Master and his role in Nitenmangreian society. The scrolls are considered unprecedented because they describe the Budgerigar Master not as the mythological figure he is generally presumed to be, but as a historical figure and founder of the long-lived Society of Traveling Budgerigars. This was a stealth-guild supposedly prevalent among the Nitenmangrey from circa -2000 EC to the culture's extinction around -900 EC. According to the scrolls, the Budgerigar Master was the head 'scribe' in the Nitenmangrey court during the reign of the apocryphical king Oldellus -1. He trained his budgerigars to memorize all speeches and conversations that took place in their presence, and then recite relevant fragments, in song, on command. When the speech of more than one person was relevant, each of the Master's ten budgerigars took on the role of a different participant in the conversation. In this way, it was unnecessary to keep written records of court proceedings. The birds seemed to have unlimited memory capacity but, unfortunately, only the Budgerigar Master himself was able to communicate with them.
Upon the demise of the Budgerigar Master, his budgerigars were released into the wild, as it was thought their records useless and inaccesible after the death of the only person able to talk to them. However, the poems claim, this was to prove otherwise. It seemed that the birds only communicated with the Master simply because they desired no other human contact at the time. After their release, each budgerigar flew to a different Nitenmangrian village and apprenticed herself to a small child. These children, known as the "Ten-from-one," recorded the songs of the birds and were each separately inspired to travel and spread their songs and stories throughout Nitenmangrey. After some years of wandering individually, the Ten-from-one finally united to form the Society of the Traveling Budgerigars, with the Budgerigar Master as the honorary founder. Each member of the Society was required to train at least one new budgerigar in the art of scribery, and upon the member's death, the bird was released to choose a new member to replace him or her. In this way, the Society remained active, although always semi-secret, for more than a thousand years, only dying off with the general demise of Nitenmangreian culture.
The poems themselves claim to be a factual retelling of the origin of the Society of Traveling Budgerigars and appear to have been recited, in their full 2617 stanzas, at the triannual general meetings of the Society.
Finding of the Scrolls
Sir Rumsfeld Tiggerwort claims to have discovered the Ziggurat Scrolls while on a cuttlefishing expedition to the Dagger Sea Segundus. He was pulled out of the boat as he wrestled to land a particularly strong cuttlefish, and eventually washed up on a small island shaped like a ziggurat. On the highest level of the ziggurat, he discovered the mouth of a cave that had been sealed with seabird guano. Inside, he found the 23 rolls of parchment that were the scrolls. These he removed and wrapped in an acid-free plastic bag, which he just happened to have with him, and then, carrying his precious cargo on his head, swam to the mainland. Sir Rumsfeld has since refused to pinpoint the location of the ziggurat island, claiming that "that's for me to know and you to find out." However, there are some who doubt Sir Rumsfeld's knowledge of the island's whereabouts, as well as their own.
Script and Translation
The Ziggurat Scrolls were written in a variation of ternary script known as 2.5ary script. This script, which appears to be a degenerate form of the ternary script adopted by lazy scribes who refused to count "all the way up to three?! You've got to be splakking!", is considered to be midway between ternary and duadic script. It was first interpreted into core script by the scholar and current president of the Bureau of Forgotten Knowledge Blivingdel, and to this day, he and Sir Rumsfeld Tiggerwort are the only Ghyllians able to read it.
The first interpretation of the Ziggurat Scrolls was published by Sir Rumsfeld himself in -6 EC and sparked a Ghyll-wide controversy over the true identity of the Budgerigar Master. Blivingdel published a much revised interpretation two years later. Since then, many other scholars have examined the Scrolls, but as none are familiar with 2.5ary script, their publications have been less than enlightening.
The first publication of the Ziggurat Scrolls inspired a fury of scholarship around the previously disregarded figure of the Budgerigar Master. Some scholars continue to hold he is purely mythological, an allegorical archetype for learning, minstrelsy and bird-calls. However, other embrace the newly unearthed scrolls as providing explanation for the millennia that separate the various recorded appearances of the Master. These scholars, among them the aforementioned Blivingdel, surmise that the later mentions of the Budgerigar Master simply refer to members of the Society of Traveling Budgerigars, rather than to the Master himself. Nevertheless, this does not explain the appearance of the Master in the court of Odgar IV, long after Nitenmangrey culture and the Society of Traveling Budgerigars had come to an end.
Since few scholars can work directly with the text of the Scrolls, much of the current debate centers on the veracity of Sir Rumsfeld's account of their discovery. He has repeatedly deigned to indicate their original location on a map, or indeed to specify it any further than "somewhere in the Dagger Sea Segundus". This has led to much suspicion and mutterings-behind-the-back from otherwise respectable scholars. Many also question the state of excellent preservation in which the Scrolls were found, as well as their unusual script. On Sir Rumsfeld's behalf, however, others have noted that the poor man was tired from the cuttlefishing expedition and couldn't very well be expected to remember all the details of compasses and maps and the like, and that, by Sir Rumsfeld's own account, the cave was exceptionally well sealed. This heated debate, as well as the exact nature of the Budgerigar Master, are currently topics of investigation at the Bureau of Forgotten Knowledge.
--Lady Aleksandra 02:42, 22 Apr 2005 (EDT)