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Romancing the Stones: Archaeology in Popular Cinema

  • Mark A. Hall (a1)

This article looks at the depiction of archaeology and archaeologists in popular cinema. A number of key films are discussed to address the article's main themes of cultural appropriation and contested ground (encompassing treasure, the public, politics and gender). Archaeology in film cannot be divorced from the wider cultural contexts in which it operates and, though portrayals of archaeology and archaeologists are frequently unsatisfactory, a positive conclusion is attempted which seeks to understand the narrative drive of popular fiction and a long history of public exclusion from archaeology. Most of the films considered do not warrant labelling as great works of art, but they are part of a cultural form with perceptions to offer, able to stimulate debate within a vital framework of cultural practices by which identity – individual and social – is constructed and evolved.

Cet article traite de la représentation de l'archéologie et des archéologues dans le cinéma populaire. De nombreux films clés sont analysés afin d'aborder les sujets principaux de l'article : l'appropriation culturelle et des éléments contestés comme les trésors, le public, la politique et le sexe. La représentation de l'archéologie dans un film ne peut être séparée des contextes culturels généraux dans lesquels elle évolue et, bien que les évocations de l'archéologie et des archéologues ne soient souvent pas satisfaisantes, l'auteur cherche à arriver à une conclusion favorable en essayant de comprendre le dynamisme narratif de la fiction populaire et la longue histoire d'exclusion du public des domaines de l'archéologie. La plupart des films considérés n'aspirent pas à être classés comme chefs d'œuvres, mais font part d'une forme culturelle parfois perspicace et capable d'inciter le débat dans le cadre essentiel de pratiques culturelles qui construisent et développent l'identité individuelle et sociale.


Dieser Beitrag beschäftigt sich mit der Darstellung von Archäologie und Archäologen im Kinofilm. Eine Reihe von Schlüsselfilmen werden diskutiert, die die Hauptthemen des Artikels, nämlich kulturelle Aneignung und umstrittenen Bereiche (einschließlich Schatz, der Öffentlichkeit, Politik und Geschlechterfragen), ansprechen. Die Darstellung der Archäologie im Film lässt sich nicht von den weiteren kulturellen Kontexten trennen, in denen sie wirken, und es kann – wenngleich auch die Abbildung von Archäologie und Archäologen häufig unbefriedigend ist – ein positiver Schluss gezogen werden, anhand dessen versucht wird, den erzählerischen Antrieb der öffentlichen Fiktion und die lange Geschichte des Ausschlusses der Öffentlichkeit von der Archäologie zu verstehen. Die meisten der einbezogenen Filme können zwar nicht als große Kunstwerke gelten, aber sie sind Teil einer Kulturform, die Ansichten anbietet, die eine Debatte innerhalb eines vitalen Kontextes kultureller Praktiken ermöglichen, durch die Identität – sei es die des Individuums oder der Gruppe – geschaffen wird und sich entwickelt.

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European Journal of Archaeology
  • ISSN: 1461-9571
  • EISSN: 1741-2722
  • URL: /core/journals/european-journal-of-archaeology
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