The Tubular Dwellers

On the excavation of tiny settlements

Aerial photograph of the tubular dwellings
The remains of the tubular village on the northern slopes of Takud-Bar were discovered and disseminated to the fundamentally sceptical European academic circles by B. Norien, who became known as the assistant of the archaeologist S. J. Robin.
As the archaeological community of the day was at a loss with regard to the somewhat peculiar group of buildings, we are obliged to accept the unusual explanation of the remains. I quote the explorer, sparing the reader some of the more sentimental details that take wing.
"Today the tubular villages of Takud-Bar are taken to be a kind of constructed version of the inferno. The tube, with its peculiar acoustics which amplified the slightest rustle made by the families inhabiting the facing cubicles on either side, intensified ordinary noise into a maddening rumble even in the – otherwise infrequent – peaceful periods. Louder speech bounced angrily from wall to wall. The maddening clamour of noisier family squabbles was magnified, naturally inflamed by new infuriating arguments coming from the meddling neighbours. Calming, sympathetic or encouraging cries only intensified the verbal interchange to the level of battle sound, and the din of incomprehensible yet unbelievable proportions only augmented the acoustic hell. The interminably exasperated tube-dwellers were often urged to action (with the aid of spears and bows) in their attempt to put an end to the loud exchange of words. The result was similarly astounding... The sinister whine of arrows flying through the air and the resounding death-shrieks of the victim plunging into the abyss made the life of the tube-dwellers even more nerve-racking. As I learnt from the sotto voce muttered comments of my servant Ahmed Seif Mohamed, in the region to this day it is said of the occasional night howls of the hyenas that they »wail like a tube dweller«." To return to the tubular homes, where the people, half-mad from the incessant noise, distractedly attempted to live their lives among the tangle of discord, vendettas and family feuds, two characteristics must be singled out which were outstandingly typical of the tube-dwellers. The one is that as a result of the violent end put to unresolved quarrels there were some excellent bowmen and slingers among them, and so these were all placed among the military elite of the region's nobles. More than once, written fragments refer to a certain archer called Bluma, who with his arrow deflected a stone aimed at him by Luma on the opposing side.
General plan of the tubular dwellings
Their other characteristic was their talent for poetry. The deeds of the families and their descendents involved in the continual wars in the Tube were accompanied solely by the one-string 'bleater' (an instrument similar to the Balkan guzla). The countless clashes and the detailed setting forth of the destruction of entire families can today only be enjoyed up to a point.

Here is a sample...
Let the guzla's music flow
As I sound it with my bow
Speak to me of the sons of Bark
Speak to me of brave Bilshazzar
Echo loud from wall to roof
That we may teach it to our youth
Bégu begat Csát
Who fell under Raku's curse
Loud whirred the sling of Csát
Whose stone fell on Raku's face
Raku's son, bold Kaliát
Sent his spear through Csát's heart
And sooo…
Kengu, firstborn son of Csát
Whose arrows smote the birds in flight
For twenty days and twenty nights
Spied the ways of Kaliát
And as the young lord gains the lip
Hear the string twang, the arrow zip
So theen…
Braki, brother of wild Kaliát
Takes the whetstone, sharpens axe,
Aims and shears through Kengu's head
Riki, Kengu's second-born
Casts Braki into the cone,
At which brave Uzga, Braki's wife
Raises bow to shoulder-height
Shrieks aloud at arrow's flight,
Slicing in twain Riki's throat
And soo…
Volka ends widowed Uzga's life
Into her back he drives a knife
So Volka's body gains a shroud
When Korga's spear is through him ploughed
Yet Korga is himself destroyed:
Edu's axe-blow he can't avoid
And theen…
The hatchet's answer's a knife blade
Avengéd with a battle-axe
Axe is followed by sling shot
Next comes the archer's hurtling bolt
The come Kalán the courageous
And so falls Set the timorous
And soo…
Vengeance is the aftermath
Renki's kinfolk on the warpath…
(The translation is the work of Antun Vidakovich, the above excerpt from the volume The Guzla and Some Guzlarists (Gusla i guslari), Zagreb, 1978)

To return to the strange-shaped ruins and the finds discovered there, of interest is the theory of F. Hergenröder, who, sweeping heroic songs and other characteristic traits of a factual nature under the carpet, impassively announces that the entire funnel was nothing more than a desperate experiment to store life-giving water in this semi-desert region...
A page from the diary of Bernard Norien
Reconstruction of a Tubular village