Archaeology: Fact vs Fiction

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Archaeology has been portrayed by Hollywood as a profession of adventure, danger and excitement. While real archaeology can be those things, it is not those things as portrayed by films such as the India Jones trilogy or the Lara Croft. It is not about fighting Nazis while being chased through the jungle in search of golden monkey heads. Real archaeology is a painstaking, intensive, elaborate science with the purpose of uncovering knowledge of past civilizations. Unfortuneately, many people today do not know what real archaeology is. Their thoughts of archaeology are dominated by the images coming out of Hollywood. Archaeology is about "finding treasure," as one student noted. The true work of meticulous measuring of thousands of potsherds means nothing to them. When questioned, however, people were able to grasp the ethical dilemmas associated with archaeology. Ultimately, the popular image of an archaeologist is far from the truth.

For most people, Indiana Jones is the archetypical archaeologist. He wears the leather jacket and the hat, has the pistol and the whip, and "gets involved in adventures all over the world." Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, another Hollywood spin on an archaeologist, does nothing to show the public what real archaeology is about. Instead, the movies portray archaeologists as they were in the beginning of the science. The earliest archaeologists, men like C.B. Moore, were antiquarians, men who cared more about the search for objects than the answers for questions. As archaeology evolved, so too did its purpose. Archaeology developed into a more anthropological area of study under the leadership of mean like A.V. Kidder. Archaeology came to be a search for the answer to the question "What does archaeology tell us about the people?" asked by James Ford. Pushed further by archaeologists such as W.W. Taylor, archaeology developed into an exact science spanning many fields which seeks to answer questions about humans from many...
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