W7 Reflection Post

As soon as the show starts, it is obvious and easy to understand why ethical archeologists might have found this show incredibly unethical and portraying archeology in a poor fashion.

First of all, even in the intro, it is clear to see how the hosts do not reflect what serious archeology looks like. From what we have seen of other archeological sites, like Morton Village, there are often dozens of people working on a site with many different tools. They are very careful when excavating a site, making sure not to trample any possible artifacts and using tools to make sure artifacts that they find are not damaged. The men in the show, however, do not seem to do any of these things. They carelessly walk all over the archeological site and only seem to be using one metal detector and some sticks to find what they need.

Another problem with the show is that the hosts do not seem to interact with anyone in order to make sure where they are digging is approved. The first place they dig at seems to be on someone’s private property but there was no indication that they had asked anyone if they could dig there. They also did not seem to consult any historian or other archeologists to see if they had already dug close to this site, or even if the site was protected.

Once they have found an “artifact” with the metal detector they use their fingers to carelessly dig it up out of the ground. It is also clear that there is no attempt at all to try to document their findings or where the artifact was located, because they do not have any sort of writing instruments or even pictures. There is also no attempt to try to analyze the artifact beyond monetary value estimation and hypothesizing where it came from. A lot of the sites we studied involved other sciences, such as chemistry, zoology and biology to analyze artifacts, however these archeologists used none of that kind of analysis.

Finally, one of the hosts exclaims “Just think of what that thing would be worth!” about the potential bullet illustrating seriously unethical behavior in being more concerned in personal gain than the proper archeological record. This is also obvious to see whenever one of the hosts finds an artifact under the soil. The show identifies what the artifact is but also provides its “potential value”, illustrating that the hosts are mainly concerned with monetary gain.

This show and its hosts violate many of the principals that ethical archeology is based around. It does not portray important principals such as accountability, public reporting and publication, records and publication or stewardship and it is a highly negative example of commercialization.

To be honest, previously if I had seen this show on National Geographic, I probably would have watched it and might have enjoyed it. However, after learning about important methods and ethics in archeology, watching this show mainly just irritated me. I think watching a show like this can be fun and expose people to the idea of archeology, but it definitely should not be viewed as an accurate or ethical depiction of archeology.

2 thoughts on “W7 Reflection Post

  1. Suhana, I find it very likely that professional archaeologists would have a problem with this show portraying archaeology in such a poor fashion, as you said. I think that your points about the tools they use and the lack of care they take are good examples about how their work is unethical. The lack of prior planning or approval is also very concerning, and I was wondering most of the show who is allowing them to dig around randomly on their property. They did not discuss any details about how they gained permission, etc. I also agree with your discussion about there being no attempt to document any of the artifacts found, as well as their concern only with monetary value.

  2. As a whole, I agree with everything you have mentioned; this show is definitely portraying the field of archaeology in a negative light. They are taking advantage of this field all for trying to make a profit from everything they find. This is very unethical and is taking advantage of people who don’t know what true archaeology is and will have them actually believing this. It is astounding how National Geographic actually has a show like this and promotes this as being archaeology and having its viewers believe it. Overall, this show has its own set of ethics that don’t coincide with what true archaeologists believe and should be criticized for it.

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