Pic: The image is promotional art for a movie called Black Mountain Side (2014), about a group of Canadian archaeologists working in remote Canadian mountains. Obviously things go wrong. You can read my Twitter review of it here
As you may (or may not) be aware, the 53rd annual Canadian Archaeological Association conference is coming up and will be here before you know it. The conference, which will be in Edmonton from May 6 – 9, 2020, just put out their call for session proposals. I’m planning on proposing the following session, and as such I’m already looking for interested presenters to join me! My goal is to not only have an educational session examining the relationships between archaeology and popular culture, but to have a lot of fun at the same time. Because there’s no reason we can’t be smiling and laughing while we’re learning. Take a look below at the session I’ve proposed, and if you’re interested in presenting a paper or a poster please get in touch with me!
As Above, So Below; Archaeology and Popular Culture
Popular culture reflects public interests, and with the regular appearance of archaeology and archaeologists within all types of popular culture there is no doubting the strong public interest in our field. Popular culture can provide a meeting place for archaeologists and the public. A place where gates are pushed open and ideas and knowledge can be shared. A place where the public can catch a glimpse of the world of archaeology, and where archaeologists can catch a glimpse of how our field is perceived.
This session aims to look at the relationship between archaeology and popular culture. How has archaeology influenced popular culture (e.g. the heavy influence of archaeologist Margaret Murray’s research on H.P. Lovecraft’s story, The Call of Chtulhu)? How has popular culture influenced archaeology (e.g. the role of Indiana Jones in the origin stories of many archaeologists today)? How does the appearance of archaeology in various mediums of popular culture influence public perception of our field (e.g. archaeology within video games like The Sims 4: Jungle, Stardew Valley, and the Tomb Raider franchise)? How can archaeology in popular culture be used to educate the public about our field and the archaeologists within it (e.g. the documentary television show Wild Archaeology)? And what happens when the archaeology being shared with the public is incorrect, misappropriated, and pseudoarchaeological (e.g. television shows like Ancient Aliens and America Unearthed, books like Chariots of the Gods, and comics like Lost City Explorers)?
**The title for this session was inspired not only by the popular fictional archaeology film of the same name, but by the esoteric occult uses of the phrase and the common pop culture tropes of connecting archaeology to the occult