W7 Reflection Post

The show “Diggers” is a show on the National Geographic Channel.  We were tasked with watching an early episode of the show called, “Bleeding Kansas”.  

I found this show difficult to watch.  I have never watched this show before and really don’t know anything about it.  Right from the beginning, the “history lesson” as to what “Bleeding Kansas” refers to was very simplified.  That isn’t necessarily the issue.  What I did have issue with was the fact that they were going to Kansas in search of some “artifact” that was going to define them as finding the “first shot fired in the Civil War”. That statement is reckless and could hype others to seek the same “fame”. They appear to have coined certain terms that I would surmise are used often within the show structure as the caption associated with it is labeled as “Diggers Dictionary”.  They use “civ” to mean any artifact related to the Civil War.  At one point in the show, the one guy refers to one of the items he found as “his oldest piece of civ ever”.  That implies they are treasure hunters and collectors.  There are also monetary values posted at the bottom captions every time they the “recover” an artifact.  Being a treasure hunter isn’t illegal (provided you have permission to be on the property) – however, it is unethical if you are claiming to be within the frame of archaeology.

Because I was watching this show with an archaeological eye (as inexperienced as I am at this point), the show was very alarming to me.  If the show was simply presented as another treasure hunting show, a show about metal detecting guys looking for a quick buck that has a mild appreciation for history – I might not be as irritated.  The reason I have an issue with the show is because there were several references to archaeology.  Specifically, at the Stagecoach site, they were called by the owner to have them determine where to do a bigger archaeological dig.  What??  Why wouldn’t you call an archaeologist? If the intention was to actually excavate the blacksmith shop, they could have used less invasive methods to determine where to dig an excavation.  They could have used GPR, they could have even done a test pit.  Those methods would have been less invasive and provided better information. There was no regard for archaeological methods. They were jumping around, digging wherever they pleased, no documentation at all, no attempts at preservation, tossing the items they found in their pockets with little care and making grandiose determinations of what they had found.

Apparently as the show continued, National Geographic listened to the concerns of archaeologists and apparently “toned it down”.  I personally, certainly hope so because I feel it’s shows like these that are deceptive to the public.  Archaeology is not treasure hunting.  I kept asking myself why these site owners or directors would even call guys like this – the answer is probably as simple as they have seen shows like this before.

One thought on “W7 Reflection Post

  1. I mentioned similar things in my week seven post. This show was god awful and insulting to archaeologists everywhere. I like the point you made about how what they are doing could incite others to seek the same “fame”. I think that with shows like this people truly have no clue how impressionable it could be. If it was truly the goal of them to actually attempt archaeology it wouldn’t be as bad. However, the references they made about the civil war and the manner in which they “discovered” things seemed fabricated and exaggerated. I am happy to see that I am not the only one who struggled to watch that atrocity. I agree with all things said in this post.

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