Friday, January 09, 2004

Dig Me Out

I think that archaeologists, thanks to such great Brendan Frasier vehicles as The Mummy and The Mummy Returns, figure much closer in the national consciousness than the actual representation of archaeology in the work force would suggest. Between those assholes in Timeline, the guys who thought Stargate was a good idea, and the magicians who made the interestingness of the idea behind Jurassic Park disappear in a fog of a million pixels, archaeology would seem to be putting food on the tables of most Americans. Indiana Jones is one of the most popular screen heroes of all time, and he's also an awesome archaeologist, who somehow is the kind of archaeologist who shoots people, discovers secret societies of black magic cannibals, drinks from a holy grail, beats up Chinese orphans, and womanizes ditsy blondes rather than placing intricate grids over pieces of carefully plotted land in search of clues to humanity's past. Apparently, also, other archaeologists respect him for his hard work, even though he's clearly taking all the glory and making someone else do all the boring work that we know archaeology to be.

I have never actually met an archaeologist, but if I did, I know what I would ask:

"Have you ever unleashed an ancient demon upon the globe?"

"Was your father also a famous archaeologist? And did he find an ancient artifact that opened a portal in time and sent him back to mediaeval times? And must you now use this same artifact to travel back in time and rescue your father?"

"Why do you carry a whip? Is it to carefully remove dust from fragile objects buried under ages of silt?"

"Do you think that you might be able to vanquish the evil demon you unleashed upon the globe?"

"Don't you think that maybe the dinosaurs went extinct for a reason and that you, as a careful observer of history, should leave well enough alone?"

"If none of the above apply to you, do you know another archaeologist who might have some answers to my obviously pertinent questions about your field? Clearly you are a hack."

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