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Unearthed E.T. Atari games will be curated by New Mexico space museum and then sold

Seven hundred of the 1,300 E.T. and other Atari cartridges recovered from a New Mexico landfill will be appraised, certified and put up for sale, the Alamogordo City Commission decided this week.

"We have been working with the space museum for curation, both for displaying and selling the games; they are now artifacts," Alamogordo mayor Susie Galea told Polygon. "The City Commission acted on Tuesday to give 100 of the games to (documentary production companies) Lightbox and Fuel Entertainment. There are 700 that we can sell."

While the New Mexico Museum of Space History will help prepare some of the games for sale, they will not actually be sold at the museum. The process for selling the games has not yet been decided, Galea said.

The remaining games, she said, would be distributed to local museums.

The first step, Galea said, is to have the games appraised to determine their value. Once appraised and prepared by the museum, some of the games will be registered and sold with a certificate of authenticity. Galea said there is discussion about possibly selling some of the games online, but that has yet to be determined.

Asked about the more than 700,000 games that remain in the landfill west of town, Galea says they'll be staying there. The hole, she said, has already been filled back in. Only 1,300 games were pulled from the site because it was more difficult to get to them then originally conceived, she said.

"The dig was a lot deeper, a lot more than they thought they would have to go," she said. "They thought it was going to be 18 feet down and it was 30 instead.

"We're going to leave the remaining games as-is."

Galea said she also hopes the town can turn the site into a tourist attraction, complete with a sign, but that the city commission hasn't discussed that yet. The money from the sale of those games, she added, could be used to help create the sign.

It's been about a month since the tiny New Mexican town of Alamogordo was packed with curious onlookers, journalists and film crews for the unearthing, the end result of years worth of history, hurdles, local politics and radioactive pigs. You can read about the journey from idea born at a meet and greet with consultants to the spring landfill dig in our feature "How to Dig Up a Landfill."

Galea, for her part, says she's happy how things turned out for the town and the documentary makers.

"I couldn't be more pleased with the turnout," she said. "Everything was done in a very safe manner. There wasn't anything that could have been done better."

Correction: The original story misidentified where the games will be sold. While the New Mexico Museum of Space History will curate and prepare the games, they will not sell them.