Archive for the ‘movies’ category

Indiana Jones and the Risk Assessment Form!

May 21, 2008

With the upcoming release of the movie “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”, archaeology is again at the forefront of media attention. Some of my comrades directed me to the following article on how Indiana Jones does not seem to be a real archaeologist. It is shocking, I know. The fictional Dr. Jones is more of a scruffy, Nazi-slaughtering, ‘tomb raider’ (yes Lara Croft you are an archaeological criminal as well). Listen I hate fascism so I don’t mind the departure of a few racist goons but taking artifacts out of context (without employing the proper procedures) and making the entire field of archaeology appear to be a ghoulish endeavor through the desecration of graves (via his use of a femur bone as a torch), this just not acceptable Indy!

Many will be saddened to know that archaeology is not one big adventure. Sure it is not your normal job as I was firing muskets two weeks ago but it is a job. Although, archaeologists are sometimes called the “cowboys of science” we try very hard to come across as professional and an important part of the planning/pre construction process. How else can we bring our wages to acceptable levels? A field archaeologist, with a university degree, in the UK makes £15k that is not enough money to start paying back any type of student loan. I think I mentioned this earlier but back in Canada a construction worker with a high school degree makes more money that an archaeologist with a university degree. The big question is will this newest movie help or hinder us in our cause. Only time will tell. The next big question is will it entertain us. *Fingers crossing* I sure hope so!

While ‘true’ archaeology can often be very boring, tedious, and makes very bad TV shows/films. Can you imagine Harrison Ford’s character filling out paperwork for his adventures? Hell, I would love to read THAT risk assessment form!

  • Project leader: Dr. Henry ‘Indiana’ Walton Jones, Jr
  • Sources of risks and associated/potential risk/s

The jungle-illness, damage/destruction of equipment, personal injury and/or death

Pit lined with spears-personal injury or death

Pressure triggered blowgun traps-personal injury or death

Optically triggered spear trap-personal injury, death and/or loss of treacherous guide

Pressure triggered ‘rolling rock’ trap-personal injury, death and/or loss of Fedora hat

Treacherous guide-becoming stranded in a collapsing temple in an unfamiliar jungle with an angry tribe likely leading to climatic meeting with personal nemesis, personal injury and/or death

Armed and angry indigenous tribe-personal injury or death. Highly likely that it will lead to death as I am stealing their sacred idol and can’t speak their language

Snake in cockpit of seaplane-loss of temper with pilot over choice of pets

  • Practices, methods and techniques that will be employed to minimize risks

“Stay(ing) out of the light.”

Running like hell and employing fancy footwork

Employing a bullwhip to bypass obstacles

Utilizing a bag of sand as a counterweight when attempting overcome traps meant to stop the looting the sacred site

Swimming across an unfamiliar body of water to escape via seaplane

Somehow, I cannot imagine him getting the funding for that particular project. He didn’t even think of wearing a ‘high-viz’ leather jacket or a saftey-Fedora, pfft… rookie mistake.

I have to say though I have had fun thinking this up. I will likely continue this kind of joke as the countdown to Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skill continues.

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10,000 things wrong with 10,000 BC

March 26, 2008

*Warning this post contains movie spoilers*
I love movies. I love watching them and I love critiquing them. From an archaeological/historical standpoint 10,000 BC is just asking for it. It is a horrible inaccurate movie. Suppressing my inner archaeologist, the movie still sucks. My personal scale of movie watching ranges from ‘sell your friend’s, non vital, organs to see this movie’ [see ‘Iron Man’ trailer] to ‘ignore this movies existences, perhaps employ damnatio memoria (removing all traces of a person or event- I believe the Egyptians first used it, but I only remember the Roman equivalent) [DON’T see ‘One Million Years BC’]. 10,000BC falls towards the later perhaps in the ‘download illegally’ category, I don’t advocacy video piracy but this movie is so bad and has already made enough money to warrant not giving them anymore.

A favorite website of mine is the International Movie Database (www.imdb.com) and they were oh so nice enough to compile a list of historical goofs. Here is just a few.

1) Where the hell is this sole white tribe from? They are near the snowy ‘mountains’; a week’s walk away a rain forest and a short trek to the desert surrounding Egypt. What is this the land of mother natures menopause? The only mountains I know that are South of Egypt are in ancient ‘Nubia’, and we all know they are know for their abundance of white people. Seriously, why is there one group of honkies surrounded by all black tribes? What are they the ancestors of the ‘White trash clan’? I don’t think they would be sexually racist considering the size of their clan. I have never seen a comparably large pile of mammoth crap until I saw paintings of Aryan Jesus, it looked like he stepped off the cross and into Hitler’s mental image of a super race. Jesus was not white! He was a dark skinned! Get used to it!

2) Where did THIS come from? Here white travelers, enjoy some hot peppers and corn, oh and watch out for those ‘terror birds’. It is a real shame that all of these things were originally from Central/South America. Peppers and corn didn’t make their way to the ‘old world’ until the 16th Century. Is the lone white tribe secretly time traveling Portuguese/Spanish traders who suffer from amnesia?

3) What the TIME is it? The technical term is ‘anachronism’ which is something from a different period time placed in a historical setting. Classic movie reference/anachronism- the digital watch on the wrist of an extra in Ben-Hur. There are at least six of these ‘chrono-boo boos’ (including the chili peppers and corns).

Bad guy- “I have an idea. Lets get take slaves using our horses. Transport our slaves, in metal shackles, via sailboats up the Nile to our evil den. Why do this? So they can help out the mammoths who are building the pyramids.”

    Wow, where to begin. Lets just say apart from slavery, sadly, existing and people having stupid ideas none of that is historically accurate. The innovation of metal work, sailing and animal domestication coupled with the building of the pyramids all happened at a much later date. How far are off is the movie (all dates rounded)?  Metal working- 5,500BC, sailing- 4,000 BC, animal domestication- horses 6,000 and mammoths NEVER and building of the pyramids 2,630 BC. It also needs to be said that there is no archaeological evidence for slaves being employed to build the pyramids. Thats right, the book of Exodus is full of it. (Mark Lehner 2003- http://harvardmagazine.com/2003/07/who-built-the-pyramids.html )

Sexism, as well as historical ignorance, rears its ugly head too. While mammoths were never domesticated as pack animals and are now extinct, we can compare them to their closest surviving ancestor the elephant. Sometime during the movie one of the characters states “that one is the lead bull”. Ops, turns out elephants, and by association mammoths, are matriarchal, that’s right, big momma is in charge of the herd. Your sexism makes fictitious ‘Aryan-Jesus’ cry!

This rant could go on and on but anger clouds the mind and makes people stupid. If I keep ranting, I might actually become so dumb that just before my brain shuts down I will reverse my opinion about this movie. Instead, I will talk about why I hate movies like this.

Why does this movie invoke hatred in my soul?  It is part jealousy and part being witness to the corruption of everything I know to be true. I say jealousy because Hollywood can shape, and potentially educate, the public in a way archaeologists never will. As if being confused with a paleontologist on a daily basis wasn’t enough, now, I will have people asking me about the domesticated mammoth. As for the corruption, I will never look at the Sphinx, or domesticated crops the same way. In the movie the Sphinx is actually a saber-toothed tiger and the hero is given a bag of seeds (with corn kernels) to take back to ‘white mountain’ with the directions ‘plant these, they will feed your [honky, likely inbred] clan’. I have tried my hand at growing crops and its not easy, apart from making farmers look like lazy bastards, the film makes the social transition from hunter-gather to agricultural look like it happened over night. Well it didn’t; it took at least 500 years and the change was not a totally beneficial.

Perhaps what angers me the most is that I love movies and its crap films like this that push me away from that which I love.

For more information of the inaccuracies of the film, go to; http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0443649/goofs .