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Forget dinosaurs or the missing link — the most important archaeological dig in the world is the one to rescue countless discarded Atari items from the early 1980s.

The Alamogordo, N.M. city commission just approved excavation of a garbage dump that allegedly holds the remains of millions of games for the Atari 2600, according to KRQE television. Specifically, the dump is the resting place for the unsold copies of the movie-licensed title E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial.

In 1982, Atari made a major agreement to make the exclusive movie tie-in game for the surprise blockbuster. The publisher forced its lone developer, Howard Scott Warshaw, to rush the game. The final product ended up so unplayable that Atari couldn’t sell the game to retailers. The cartridges were just taking up warehouse space, so — according to legend — the company decided to pack nine semitrucks full of E.T. and other Atari equipment to dump in the desert.


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Now, Fuel Industries, a Canadian film-production company, got approval from Alamogordo to start digging up the dump to look for the games. Fuel has six months to unearth its treasure.

We’ve reached out to Fuel Industries for comment. We will update this story with its response.

For Alamogordo’s mayor, this is more than a chance to get rid of some trash. “I hope more people find out about Alamogordo through this opportunity that we have to unearth the Atari games in the landfill,” Mayor Susie Galea told KRQE.

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