Public Perceptions of Archaeology

Today, people have more access to misinformation about archaeology than at any
other time in history. Mass media, especially the movies, tend to perpetuate old stereotypes about
what archaeology is and what archaeologists do. Movies typically depict archaeologists as adventurers,
mercenaries, grave robbers, and romantic heroes, rather than scientists. Films such as The Mummy
(1999), Laura Croft, Tomb Raider (2001), and even Disney’s animated Atlantis (2001) all tend to equate
archaeology with treasure hunting and/or vandalism. This assignment will investigate Hollywood’srole
in creating a skewed image of archaeology through the use of film.

1) Access and watch Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, in its entirety.
2) Write a full 3-page essay that describes the archaeology research process AND the
major archaeology-relatedstereotypesthat are depicted in the film.
a. Describe the archaeologist, Indiana Jones.
i. What is his personality like? What kind of lifestyle does he lead?
b. How does Indiana Jones discoversites and conduct fieldwork?
i. What happensto the object after it is brought “home” safely?
c. Describe the archaeology research process, in detail, and compare it to Indiana
mode of investigation.
i. How do the processes differ?
ii. What archaeology-related situations are portrayed inaccurately in the film?
Be specific.
iii. What would REAL archaeologists do in the various(inaccurate)situations?
Each inaccurate situation should be compared to how it would truly
be handled (i.e. stumbling upon a site vs. systematic survey, etc.).
d. How does Hollywood feed into the stereotypical view of archaeology &
i. Does it have a positive or negative effect on the discipline of archaeology?