Watch an abandoned ant city get excavated

Inspired by the ideas, philosophy, and worldview of Octavia O. Butler, Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds by Adrienne marie brown invites readers to embrace the constant and contingent, as well as uncertainly certain, inevitability of change. Taking cues, insights, and lessons from the earth, the plants, animals, and insects, the ecosystems and ecologies, and the molecules and cells that condition the innovative geometry of life, I thought of this book after watching this mesmerizing and humbling video clip, now over a decade old, of the excavation of a giant abandoned subterranean ant city. [previously at Boing Boing]

Ten tons of cement poured over three days filled the entire underground structure that, at eight meters deep, covered fifty square meters total.

First using machines, then by hand, "It takes weeks to uncover the secret megalopolis of the ants. There are subterranean highways connecting the main chambers, and off the main routes are side roads. The paths branch and lead to many fungus gardens and rubbish pits. The tunnels are designed to ensure good ventilation and provide the shortest transport routes….This colossal and complex city was created by the collective will of the ant colony….In its construction, the colony moved 40 tons of soil. Billions of ant loads of soil were brought to the surface. Each load weighed four times as much as the worker and, in human terms, was carried a kilometer to the surface."

You have to see the images for the words to have purchase. Then, you won't be able, or perhaps want, to get the wondrous architecture and specific design brilliance out of your head, the roots and routes of the formicidae superorganism, a unified collective entity of many ants working together.

The clip is edited from a longer documentary, Ants: Nature's Secret Power. "The documentary introduces us to the world of ants through the eyes of Bert Hölldobler, entomologist and friend of world-renowned scientist E.O. Wilson. Award-winning cinematographer Wolfgang Thaler captured the scene." So much to learn from ants. Also: the ant city was abandoned and no ants were harmed in the excavation. Okay, that claim may be as large as the abandoned megalopolis itself.