Abstract: Near Eastern Archaeology and the Movies


Archaeology has been a subject of film since the early days of silent cinema. Near Eastern archaeology in particular is associated with film by the public because of its early traditions of heroic narratives and the frequency with which archaeologists in film are in fact Near Eastern archaeologists. The power of film as a medium of mass communication has meant that the general public’s conception of archaeology has been greatly influenced by experiences of archaeology through the movies. While archaeologists have a tendency to criticize cinematic depictions of their discipline, it is important for them to think critically about the portrayal of archaeology in film when trying to inform the public about the profession. Films communicate messages that audiences rarely question about the goals of archaeology, the relationship of archaeologists to universities and museums, and about who engages in archaeology.  This talk will identify and critically engage with these popular messages about archaeology in film.

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