Anthropology | Archaeology and the Movies
P240 | 27773 | Sievert


Above class has S&H distribution credit

The popular cinema abounds with films depicting swashbuckling
characters such as Indiana Jones and Lara Croft, as well as
fictionalized prehistoric and ancient people. This is a course for
students who are drawn to films about archaeologists or Egyptian
mummies, but who question the interpretations of ancient people and of
archaeologists that the movies present. We will look at how
archaeologists are depicted (usually as glamorous adventurers) and
compare this with the work that archaeologists actually do. We will
address modern issues such as looting, exploitation, and antiquities
trade, and see how artifacts can have lives of their own. One theme
that recurs in such films is the romance of discovery as
archaeologists retrieve ancient materials from archaeological sites.
Where does this impression derive from, and how does it compare to the
actual activities of real (not reel) archaeologists? Another theme is
site devastation, which we will evaluate in all its metaphorical glory.

In addition, film producers make movies that cater to our curiosity
about so-called forgotten cultures. How realistic are the
interpretations that film producers present? We will examine films
that depict ancient people and places, including Egypt. Film genres
include romantic comedy, drama, sci fi, and even animé. A series of
e-reserve writings by and about archaeologists augment the films and
provide a basis for discussion, which we will do both in class and via
Oncourse discussion forums.

Evaluation: Two tests and a final proposal for a film that you will
present to the class, turned in with attendant short explanation. You
will be required to participate in discussion forums on Oncourse.

No prerequisites.

Textbook: There will be one short text for purchase plus e-reserve
readings.