Ancient city of Yaxchilan hidden in the jungle in the borderland of Mexico and GuatemalaGetty

“With just one profound discovery, mankind’s entire story could change,” so said Megan Fox in the Travel Channel’s latest archaeology-themed television show, Legends of the Lost. This statement presents an excellent example of the two-sided conundrum facing attempts to bring archaeology to the small screen. First, what Fox said is exciting, intriguing, and the exact kind of drama one needs to attract a television audience. Second, that is not how archaeology works! Over decades of research archaeologists have amassed a vast quantity of data laying out the history of humankind. As a result, no one single discovery can change our entire story, but that sounds less appealing to audiences.

As a result, it can be difficult to put “real archaeology” on TV; instead, cable television is awash with shows that report to be about ancient mysteries. The Travel Channel recently debuted another show, Lost Amazon: Project Z, where the hosts went on a hunt for lost cities in the Amazon rainforest. The Curse of Oak Island on the History Channel features people digging pits across a small Canadian island in search of lost treasures, Knights Templar and meandering ancient Romans. The most infamous show of them all, Ancient Aliens claims that the archaeological record is rife with evidence of alien contact, even though the objections of scholars have made it clear such claims are not true.

These sensational shows may be exciting to viewers, but they represent problematic distortions of the human past that rise to the level of pseudoarchaeology. Pseudoarchaeological claims make use of archaeological materials, such as ancient architecture or artifacts, but consistently disregard even the most basic of archaeological methods. For example, the chronological context of objects is often ignored to draw connections between different ancient cultures. Ignatius Donnelly popularized this practice in the 1880s when he claimed that the pyramids built by the Classic period Maya and those built by the Old Kingdom Egyptians were so similar that they necessitated a cultural connection; even though these structures were separated by almost 3,000 years of history.

To the eternal frustration of professional archaeologists, pseudoarchaeological claims repeatedly end up on television despite their blatant inaccuracies. The question for archaeologists, is what can be done about it? A freelance TV producer told me that “Pseudoarchaeology ends up on TV because it gets viewers. It provides sensational topics that immediately hook the audience with tales of adventure and mystery, plus it’s often cheap to make.” In contrast, they suggested that network executives find the reality of archaeology, with its “slow, methodical excavations, lengthy discussions, research and inconclusive results” to be “boring.”

Legends of the Lost made an interesting attempt to sidestep these doldrums by bringing on actress Megan Fox as the show’s host. Not only did Fox bring her star power to the show, but according to media interviews, she brought a passion for studying the ancient world. This combination was intriguing and offered some promise. Fox, however, also brought with her a perspective on the ancient world that seems to have been profoundly influenced by Ancient Aliens and other pseudoarchaeological claims, as well as an apparent belief that archaeologists are covering up the truth.

When a new show has the potential to dabble in pseudoarchaeology, it provokes a debate among professional archaeologists. Simply put, should archaeologists participate in these shows or not? As a finite and decaying resource, the archaeological record is in desperate need of preservation and a foundational step to that preservation is raising public awareness. From this perspective, any television coverage of archaeology can be considered good. Moreover, if archaeologists appear on such shows and can present real information, they might be able to counter any pseudoarchaeological claims. Yet, since the archaeologists have no say in the final editing process, they also fear that by appearing on such shows their work might be distorted or even made to seem as if they support something that they do not.

Archaeologist Dr. Ken Feder has had just such an experience. While being interviewed for a documentary about Atlantis, Feder had a reported being impressed with the film crew. “They asked me to recount Plato’s story of Atlantis, then they asked me a series of questions about the story: what didn’t ring true, how archaeological and historical evidence fails to support the story, etc. All good stuff and they were terrific to work with,” but when the show was released Feder said “I cringed when I saw the thing.” His statements to the effect that Atlantis was not real had been pushed to the very end of the episode. As a result, for a solid forty minutes a viewer could have been forgiven for thinking that Feder believed Atlantis to be a real place, particularly if that viewer never finished watching the episode.

Experiences like this loom large in the backroom chatter of professional archaeology. Thus, when Legends of the Lost entered production, the producers found that some archaeologists were wary of working with them. Dr. Adrienne Mayor had spoken with the show’s producers about her research on Greek Amazons and other stories of warrior women for the show, but when she learned about Fox’s attitudes toward archaeology she requested “that my name and material not be used in the episode.” Another archaeologist also told the author in confidence that they had been approached by the show but decided it was in their best interest not to participate.

Dr. Eric H. Cline also wrestled with these issues but ultimately chose to work with Legends of the Lost. He said that “it is always a gamble in deciding whether to participate or not in such shows.” Cline, however, was impressed by the professionalism and the level of research that the producers had done in advance, and ultimately decided that the opportunity to raise awareness about archaeological research was paramount. As is frequently the case, however, he did not have any say in the final product and told me that when the episode aired, he was disappointed to see some of the material that the producers ultimately chose to include.

Archaeologists want to see more archaeology on television. Television viewers appear to agree. The question is whether we can bridge the gap between sensationalized views of archaeology and the story of the human experience that archaeologists are unfolding with their work. There are examples of good archaeological TV. Ask any archaeologist and they will wistfully look off into the distance and tell you about the show Time Team. PBS and BBC likewise regularly produce good documentaries about the ancient world, but Dr. Monty Dobson, archaeologist and film producer, told the author “convincing a network to put research-based archaeology on the air is a challenge.”

It appears that more than anything, the message that archaeologists need to get across is that, despite what network executives think, archaeology is not boring! New excavations are being carried out every year and adding to our grand narrative of the human past. Feder notes “we constantly revise our explanations, interpretations and conclusions” as this new information gradually reveals an ever-clearer picture of our past. It is the sensational stories of mysterious lost cities and buried treasure that never change. Dr. Jeb J. Card notes that these claims are nothing more than “recycled Victorian ideas that were shown to be false before the radio was invented.” The time has come for more real archaeology on television, if only those networks executives will listen!

The author would like to extend thanks to all those who spoke with him in the preparation of this piece. In addition to the scholars mentioned above. he would also like to thank Dr. Kristina Killgrove, Dr. Sarah Parcak, Dr. Leslie Anne Warden, Dr. Fabio Silva, and Dr. Katie Stringer Clary for their helpful comments and suggestions.

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(****** )(******* )(******** )Ancient city of Yaxchilan concealed in the jungle in the borderland of Mexico and Guatemala Getty

” With simply one extensive discovery, humanity’s whole story might alter, “so stated Megan Fox in the Travel Channel’s newest archaeology-themed tv program, Legends of the Lost This declaration provides an outstanding example of the two-sided problem dealing with efforts to bring archaeology to the little screen. Initially, what Fox stated is amazing, interesting, and the precise sort of drama one requires to bring in a tv audience. Second, that is not how archaeology works! Over years of research study archaeologists have actually accumulated a huge amount of information setting out the history of mankind. As an outcome, nobody single discovery can alter our whole story, however that sounds less attracting audiences.

As an outcome, it can be challenging to put” genuine archaeology” on TELEVISION

; rather, cable television service is awash with programs that report to be about ancient secrets. The Travel Channel just recently debuted another program, (************* ) Lost Amazon: Job Z, where the hosts went on a hunt for lost cities in the Amazon jungle. Menstruation of Oak Island on the History Channel includes individuals digging pits throughout a little Canadian island looking for lost treasures, Knights Templar and meandering ancient Romans. The most notorious program of them all, Ancient Aliens declares that the historical record is swarming with proof of alien contact, despite the fact that the (************* )(******************** )objections of scholars have actually made it clear such claims are not real.

These marvelous programs might be amazing to audiences, however they represent bothersome distortions of the human past that increase to the level of pseudoarchaeology. Pseudoarchaeological claims utilize historical products, such as ancient architecture or artifacts, however regularly neglect even the most standard of historical techniques. For instance, the sequential context of items is typically disregarded to draw connections in between various ancient cultures. Ignatius Donnelly promoted this practice in the 1880 s when he declared that the pyramids constructed by the Timeless duration Maya and those constructed by the Old Kingdom Egyptians were so comparable that they required a cultural connection; despite the fact that these structures were separated by nearly 3,000 years of history.

(************ )To the everlasting aggravation of expert archaeologists, pseudoarchaeological claims consistently wind up on tv in spite of their outright mistakes. The concern for archaeologists, is what can be done about it? A self-employed TELEVISION manufacturer informed me that “Pseudoarchaeology winds up on TELEVISION since it gets audiences. It offers marvelous subjects that right away hook the audience with tales of experience and secret, plus it’s typically inexpensive to make.” On the other hand, they recommended that network executives discover the truth of archaeology, with its “sluggish, systematic excavations, prolonged conversations, research study and undetermined outcomes” to be “uninteresting.”

Legends of the Lost made a fascinating effort to avoid these doldrums by inducing starlet Megan Fox as the program’s host. Not just did Fox bring her star power to the program, however according to media interviews, she brought an enthusiasm for studying the ancient world. This mix was interesting and used some guarantee. Fox, nevertheless, likewise brought with her a viewpoint on the ancient world that appears to have actually been exceptionally affected by Ancient Aliens and other pseudoarchaeological claims, in addition to an evident belief that archaeologists are concealing the fact.

(************ )When a brand-new program has the possible to meddle pseudoarchaeology, it provokes an argument amongst expert archaeologists. Put simply, should archaeologists take part in these programs or not? As a limited and rotting resource, the historical record remains in desperate requirement of conservation and a fundamental action to that conservation is raising public awareness. From this viewpoint, any tv protection of archaeology can be thought about great. Furthermore, if archaeologists appear on such programs and can provide genuine info, they may be able to counter any pseudoarchaeological claims. Yet, given that the archaeologists have no say in the last modifying procedure, they likewise fear that by appearing on such programs their work may be misshaped or perhaps made to appear as if they support something that they do not.

Archaeologist Dr. Ken Feder has actually had simply such an experience. While being talked to for a documentary about Atlantis, Feder had actually a reported being impressed with the movie team. “They asked me to state Plato’s story of Atlantis, then they asked me a series of concerns about the story: what didn’t ring real, how historical and historic proof stops working to support the story, and so on. All great things and they were fantastic to deal with,” however when the program was launched Feder stated “I flinched when I saw the important things.” His declarations to the impact that Atlantis was not genuine had actually been pressed to the very end of the episode. As an outcome, for a strong forty minutes an audience might have been forgiven for believing that Feder thought Atlantis to be a genuine location, especially if that audience never ever ended up seeing the episode.

Experiences like this loom big in the backroom chatter of expert archaeology. Hence, when Legends of the Lost got in production, the manufacturers discovered that some archaeologists watched out for dealing with them. Dr. Adrienne Mayor had actually talked with the program’s manufacturers about her research study on Greek Amazons and other stories of warrior ladies for the program, however when she discovered Fox’s mindsets towards archaeology she asked for “that my name and product not be utilized in the episode.” Another archaeologist likewise informed the author in self-confidence that they had actually been approached by the program however chose it remained in their benefit not to get involved.

Dr. Eric H. Cline likewise battled with these concerns however eventually selected to deal with Legends of the Lost. He stated that “it is constantly a gamble in choosing whether to get involved or not in such programs.” Cline, nevertheless, was impressed by the professionalism and the level of research study that the manufacturers had actually carried out in advance, and eventually chose that the chance to raise awareness about historical research study was critical. As is often the case, nevertheless, he did not have any say in the end product and informed me that when the episode aired, he was dissatisfied to see a few of the product that the manufacturers eventually selected to consist of.

Archaeologists wish to see more archaeology on tv. Tv audiences appear to concur. The concern is whether we can bridge the space in between sensationalized views of archaeology and the story of the human experience that archaeologists are unfolding with their work. There are examples of great historical TELEVISION. Ask any archaeologist and they will wistfully look off into the range and inform you about the program Time Group. PBS and BBC also routinely produce great documentaries about the ancient world, however Dr. Monty Dobson, archaeologist and movie manufacturer, informed the author “encouraging a network to put research-based archaeology on the air is a difficulty.”

It appears that more than anything, the message that archaeologists requirement to make clear is that, in spite of what network executives believe, archaeology is not uninteresting! New excavations are being performed every year and contributing to our grand story of the human past. Feder keeps in mind “we continuously modify our descriptions, analyses and conclusions” as this brand-new info slowly exposes an ever-clearer photo of our past. It is the marvelous stories of strange lost cities and buried treasure that never ever alter. Dr. Jeb J. Card keeps in mind that these claims are absolutely nothing more than “recycled Victorian concepts that were revealed to be incorrect prior to the radio was developed.” The time has actually come for more genuine archaeology on tv, if just those networks executives will listen!

The author want to extend thanks to all those who talked with him in the preparation of this piece. In addition to the scholars pointed out above. he would likewise like to thank Dr. Kristina Killgrove, Dr. Sarah Parcak, Dr. Leslie Anne Warden, Dr. Fabio Silva, and Dr. Katie Stringer Clary for their valuable remarks and tips.

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Ancient city of Yaxchilan concealed in the jungle in the borderland of Mexico and Guatemala Getty

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“With simply one extensive discovery, humanity’s whole story might alter,” so stated Megan Fox in the Travel Channel’s newest archaeology-themed tv program, Legends of the Lost This declaration provides an outstanding example of the two-sided problem dealing with efforts to bring archaeology to the little screen. Initially, what Fox stated is amazing, interesting, and the precise sort of drama one requires to bring in a tv audience. Second, that is not how archaeology works! Over years of research study archaeologists have actually accumulated a huge amount of information setting out the history of mankind. As an outcome, nobody single discovery can alter our whole story, however that sounds less attracting audiences.

As an outcome, it can be challenging to put “genuine archaeology” on TELEVISION; rather, cable television service is awash with programs that report to be about ancient secrets. The Travel Channel just recently debuted another program, Lost Amazon: Job Z , where the hosts went on a hunt for lost cities in the Amazon jungle. Menstruation of Oak Island on the History Channel includes individuals digging pits throughout a little Canadian island looking for lost treasures, Knights Templar and meandering ancient Romans. The most notorious program of them all, Ancient Aliens declares that the historical record is swarming with proof of alien contact, despite the fact that the objections of scholars have actually made it clear such claims are not real.

These marvelous programs might be amazing to audiences, however they represent bothersome distortions of the human past that increase to the level of pseudoarchaeology. Pseudoarchaeological claims utilize historical products, such as ancient architecture or artifacts, however regularly neglect even the most standard of historical techniques. For instance, the sequential context of items is typically disregarded to draw connections in between various ancient cultures. Ignatius Donnelly promoted this practice in the 1880 s when he declared that the pyramids constructed by the Timeless duration Maya and those constructed by the Old Kingdom Egyptians were so comparable that they required a cultural connection; despite the fact that these structures were separated by nearly 3, 000 years of history.

To the everlasting aggravation of expert archaeologists, pseudoarchaeological claims consistently wind up on tv in spite of their outright mistakes. The concern for archaeologists, is what can be done about it? A self-employed TELEVISION manufacturer informed me that “Pseudoarchaeology winds up on TELEVISION since it gets audiences. It offers marvelous subjects that right away hook the audience with tales of experience and secret, plus it’s typically inexpensive to make.” On the other hand, they recommended that network executives discover the truth of archaeology, with its “sluggish, systematic excavations, prolonged conversations, research study and undetermined outcomes” to be “uninteresting.”

Legends of the Lost made a fascinating effort to avoid these doldrums by inducing starlet Megan Fox as the program’s host. Not just did Fox bring her star power to the program, however according to media interviews , she brought an enthusiasm for studying the ancient world. This mix was interesting and used some guarantee. Fox, nevertheless, likewise brought with her a viewpoint on the ancient world that appears to have actually been exceptionally affected by Ancient Aliens and other pseudoarchaeological claims, in addition to an evident belief that archaeologists are concealing the fact.

When a brand-new program has the possible to meddle pseudoarchaeology, it provokes an argument amongst expert archaeologists. Put simply, should archaeologists take part in these programs or not? As a limited and rotting resource, the historical record remains in desperate requirement of conservation and a fundamental action to that conservation is raising public awareness. From this viewpoint, any tv protection of archaeology can be thought about great. Furthermore, if archaeologists appear on such programs and can provide genuine info, they may be able to counter any pseudoarchaeological claims. Yet, given that the archaeologists have no say in the last modifying procedure, they likewise fear that by appearing on such programs their work may be misshaped or perhaps made to appear as if they support something that they do not.

Archaeologist Dr. Ken Feder has actually had simply such an experience. While being talked to for a documentary about Atlantis, Feder had actually a reported being impressed with the movie team. “They asked me to state Plato’s story of Atlantis, then they asked me a series of concerns about the story: what didn’t ring real, how historical and historic proof stops working to support the story, and so on. All great things and they were fantastic to deal with,” however when the program was launched Feder stated “I flinched when I saw the important things.” His declarations to the impact that Atlantis was not genuine had actually been pressed to the very end of the episode. As an outcome, for a strong forty minutes an audience might have been forgiven for believing that Feder thought Atlantis to be a genuine location, especially if that audience never ever ended up seeing the episode.

Experiences like this loom big in the backroom chatter of expert archaeology. Hence, when Legends of the Lost got in production, the manufacturers discovered that some archaeologists watched out for dealing with them. Dr. Adrienne Mayor had actually talked with the program’s manufacturers about her research study on Greek Amazons and other stories of warrior ladies for the program, however when she discovered Fox’s mindsets towards archaeology she asked for “that my name and product not be utilized in the episode.” Another archaeologist likewise informed the author in self-confidence that they had actually been approached by the program however chose it remained in their benefit not to get involved.

Dr. Eric H. Cline likewise battled with these concerns however eventually selected to deal with Legends of the Lost. He stated that “it is constantly a gamble in choosing whether to get involved or not in such programs.” Cline, nevertheless, was impressed by the professionalism and the level of research study that the manufacturers had actually carried out in advance, and eventually chose that the chance to raise awareness about historical research study was critical. As is often the case, nevertheless, he did not have any say in the end product and informed me that when the episode aired, he was dissatisfied to see a few of the product that the manufacturers eventually selected to consist of.

Archaeologists wish to see more archaeology on tv. Tv audiences appear to concur. The concern is whether we can bridge the space in between sensationalized views of archaeology and the story of the human experience that archaeologists are unfolding with their work. There are examples of great historical TELEVISION. Ask any archaeologist and they will wistfully look off into the range and inform you about the program Time Group. PBS and BBC also routinely produce great documentaries about the ancient world, however Dr. Monty Dobson, archaeologist and movie manufacturer, informed the author “encouraging a network to put research-based archaeology on the air is a difficulty.”

It appears that more than anything, the message that archaeologists requirement to make clear is that, in spite of what network executives believe, archaeology is not uninteresting! New excavations are being performed every year and contributing to our grand story of the human past. Feder keeps in mind “we continuously modify our descriptions, analyses and conclusions” as this brand-new info slowly exposes an ever-clearer photo of our past. It is the marvelous stories of strange lost cities and buried treasure that never ever alter. Dr. Jeb J. Card keeps in mind that these claims are absolutely nothing more than “recycled Victorian concepts that were revealed to be incorrect prior to the radio was developed.” The time has actually come for more genuine archaeology on tv, if just those networks executives will listen!

The author want to extend thanks to all those who talked with him in the preparation of this piece. In addition to the scholars pointed out above. he would likewise like to thank Dr. Kristina Killgrove, Dr. Sarah Parcak, Dr. Leslie Anne Warden, Dr. Fabio Silva, and Dr. Katie Stringer Clary for their valuable remarks and tips.