Sponsored by: Archaeological Institute of America
Archaeologists are depicted as searching for lost cities and mystical artifacts in news reports, television, video games, and movies like Indiana Jones or The Mummy. This fantastical image has little to do with day-to-day science, yet it is deeply connected to why people are fascinated by the ancient past. Exploring the development of archaeology helps us understand what archaeology is and why it matters. The trail of clues leading us into spooky territory includes famous archaeologists, self-proclaimed explorers, haunted museums, mysterious hieroglyphic inscriptions, fragments of a lost continent that never existed, the origin of ideas about ancient extraterrestrials, and even a Scotland Yard investigation into magic, murder, and witchcraft. These ideas don’t come from Hollywood, they come from how humans have tried to understand the past from the earliest ancient Egyptian delvers into ruins to the modern profession of archaeology. If archaeologists want to explain why the past is important to our present, they need to understand why archaeology continues to mystify and why there is an ongoing fascination with exotic artifacts and eerie practices.
Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic:
Card, Jeb J., 2018 Spooky Archaeology: Myth and the Science of the Past. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque.
Card, Jeb J. and David S. Anderson (editors), 2016 Lost City, Found Pyramid: Understanding Alternative Archaeologies and Pseudoscientific Practices. University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa