If you ask the average person on the street to give a brief description of what archaeology is and what it stands for, you might find that the answers will be extremely varied. Part of the reason for this is because the average person does not get very much candid exposure to real archaeologists and archaeology. As a result, a lot of what we know about archaeology comes directly from the media-TV shows, news outlets, internet articles, etc. A lot of these sources are great references for us to learn more about archaeology. Unfortunately, however, there are also a number of sources that give archaeology a bad name and misrepresent what it means to be an archaeologist. The episode of Diggers that we were assigned this week is one such example of a poor representation.
The biggest disservice that this show did to the practice of archaeology was, in my opinion, the commercialization of the practice. Instead of looking at their archaeological finds as a piece of history, the hosts only saw their finds as dollar signs. The show even went as far to name a specific “potential value” for each of the artifacts that the two men found. This misrepresents archaeology as something that is only done for personal gain, especially to the average person who does not have as much background knowledge about archaeology. On the contrary, it is important for people to know that archaeology is done for everyone. Everyone can benefit from learning about the events and practices of the past and shows like this lead people to believe otherwise.
Another misleading factor about this show is the conservation that is shown-or the lack thereof. In this show the two men walk around forests and fields with metal detectors, and dig into the ground with no regard to what they might be destroying. One thing that we’ve learned in this class is that there’s a procedure for everything. Every time an archaeologists makes an archaeological find, there are steps that need to be taken to ensure that the artifacts are preserved. If archaeologists went around randomly digging into the ground whenever their metal detector beeped, a lot of archaeological items would be destroyed. In addition to poor conservation, the men also show no accountability for their actions. The past is something that belongs to everybody. Archaeologists have a responsibility to report their findings through the proper avenues so that the information can be shared publicly. Once again, the hosts of this show are only concerned with their profit and not with this responsibility. It is important for us to be able to discern quality sources from poor sources, and Diggers is a poor source.