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Sunday, 25 May 2008 05:54

Indiana Jones and the Archaeological Stuff Up

An Australian archaeologist says Indiana Jones may well be freaking out real archaeologists with his rule-breaking antics but is still a fabulous drawcard for new students into the literally time honoured profession.

A report from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has quoted Claire Smith, the president of the World Archaeological Congress, and research professor with the University of Newcastle, as being concerned that Indiana Jones may well be sending the wrong message while making archaeology look very exciting nonetheless.

Smith says Indiana Jones’ rule-breaking antics, grave robbing tendencies, valuing of artefacts for their commercial value rather than their archaeological value and worse are all against the tenets of good archaeology – but still credits him with bringing excitement – and young blood - into what is otherwise a “pedantic and exacting science”.

Smith told the ABC that: “The great value of Indiana Jones for the archaeological community is that he makes a pedantic and exacting science appear exciting. Archaeology departments in Australia and overseas can expect an increase in students following the release of Crystal Skull."

The ABC then quotes George Lucas, the executive producer of the Indy series, telling the AP that Indiana Jones “...makes lots of mistakes. He kind of goofs up. He has the same kind of thinking that we have. He's beat up all the time. It's like he's not a superhero. He's just an average Joe that's always in over his head that somehow seems to get through it."

Smith also told the ABC that: “In pursuit of 'fortune and glory' Jones ignores international treaties, treats human remains as weapons and destroys archaeological sites in a bid to escape from potential entombment and other worrisome possibilities.”

"Archaeologists are concerned with preserving the past, not making a profit from it, and Jones seems more finely tuned to the commercial value of an artefact than the information it can give us about past peoples.”

Please read on to page 2.

Smith continued telling the ABC that: "In Crystal Skull, as in the other films, Indiana Jones walks a fine line between collecting and looting."

Of course, it IS important to remember that Indiana Jones is a fictional character, he’s in a blockbuster Hollywood movie, and is expected to save the day, his life, those of his companions, beat the bad guys and get the goodies – all by the skin of his teeth.

In real life, Indiana Jones may well have ended up entombed in the aforementioned sites, waiting to be discovered by archaeologists of the future.

But that wouldn’t be Hollywood, would it?

Clearly, a movie called “Indiana Jones and the Time He Didn’t Make It” won’t be made anytime soon.

And if there is yet another movie, we can be certain archaeologists will be up in arms again – while loving the fact it brings new students into the fold every single time.


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.



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