to each other, and Anna stood up to lean over the table. Chang shook his head.
"A ritual meaning?"
It was the most likely explanation, Anna thought. Repetitive structures most often had a ritualistic purpose or a practical one, and offhand it was hard to think of a practical purpose the pillars could serve, unless it was somehow related to their technology.
"The preliminary translation, very rough, is ''Every light casts a shadow.'' "
"Part of some religious belief, perhaps," Chang said.
"The pillars could cast shadows at different times of the day-if there wasn't a storm. I'd say they were some sort of time-telling or distance-measuring tools, as used by Ptolemy, or at least carrying a similar ceremonial purpose, but the planet gets so little light. Shadows cast would be weak, if they existed at all."
Anna tilted her head, studying the pattern of the runes.
"You're assuming atmospheric conditions have remained constant, and that they weren't worsened by the war fought here."
"If the atmosphere was clearer at an earlier time, the pillars may have been tied to astronomical observation of some kind, as with Stonehenge."
Anna sat down. The inscription bothered her. It seemed innocuous, yet it made her think back to the mouse, to the image of the dark, towering machine. Who would this race be who would create technology of such sophistication and build pillars with such a simplistic message? What significance could it have for them?
"You have more?" Chang asked.
Donne had returned, the box squirreled away. She stood behind Dr. Chang. Petrovich and Standish had wandered in as well.
"One more," Morden said.
"I really don't feel secure enough to share anything else."
Morden pulled out a still with a close-up of some shaded