Playing cards have a long history as tools for boosting morale, instilling a sense of mission, and even implanting operational details in the minds of American troops serving abroad. During World War II, a deck was issued with silhouettes of Allied and Axis fighter planes, and faces of generals and politicians of the former regime were on a deck supplied to soldiers early in our invasion of Iraq. Now the troops there will be playing with a new deck which carries an archaeological message.
Archaeologist Laurie Rush, employed at Fort Drum in upstate New York, helped to develop the cards according to an article in the July/August issue of Archaeology magazine. In the archaeological deck of cards, each suit has a theme: diamonds for artifacts, spades for digs, hearts for "winning hearts and minds," and clubs for heritage preservation. Derek Fincham, who writes the always informative blog "Illicit Cultural Property," managed to acquire one of the decks. Derek mentions a few favorite cards:
The seven of clubs shows the Ctesiphon Arch and says "This site has survived 17 centuries. Will it and others survive you?"
The five of clubs says "Drive around, not over, archaeological sites".
The two of hearts shows ruins at Samarra and says "Ninety-nine per cent of mankind's history can be understood through archaeology."