Archaeology and Pop Culture

One archaeologist has a bold plan to take back his profession from Hollywood and The History Channel:

The ghost of Indy is hard to stamp out. Everywhere archaeologists gather, we complain about how archaeology is portrayed in pop culture: it’s sensationalistic, cheesy, misleading, schlocky! It gives people the wrong impression of what archaeology is.

This last existential verb is the source of our trouble. We archaeologists know what archaeology is, and refuse to let anyone define it except us. But the cat has always been out of the bag: archaeology has cast a giant shadow on the public imagination from the moment it first emerged as a profession. And the nature of shadows is to distort, and shift, and show us what we want to see. On that note, I offer you two propositions about the discipline.

1) In the popular imagination, archaeology is a form of science fiction.
2) Archaeologists should embrace this, and start writing science fiction that promotes their vision of the past and agenda for the present.

I don’t imagine this idea will go over well with archaeologists but the author makes a compelling case that should at least give some scientists a better appreciation of the relationship between pop culture and history.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.