The rise of public archaeology, the popularity of TV archaeology, and widespread stereotypes about the profession of archaeology have changed the way archaeologists relate to the public. A socially meaningful archaeology needs to take seriously where the popular demand and the appeal of archaeology actually lie. Arguably non-archaeologists know better what the subject is all about than most of its professionals do.
This is the first full-length study of the meaning of archaeology in contemporary popular culture. It is fully illustrated with cartoons by Quentin Drew.
In popular culture archaeology is associated with adventurous fieldwork, criminological clue-hunting, great revelations, and responsible care for threatened resources. The emphasis is on "doing" archaeology rather than on its actual results. Cornelius Holtorf argues in this provocative account of more than two years of research that archaeological companies and institutions are not in the business of understanding the past but of enhancing people's lives through adventures, mysteries, and revelations and by offering a chance to care.
Archaeology may be an academic discipline but even more so it is a widely recognized, positively valued and well underpinned brand. As we can expect from Cornelius Holtorf, the book contains not only its share of facts and analysis but also more than a few controversial arguments about the present and future roles of archaeology in society. It is unmissable for professional archaeologists working in the heritage sector as well as for students of archaeology, anthropology, heritage and museum studies, cultural studies, science studies, and related disciplines.
Dr Cornelius Holtorf is Assistant Professor in Archaeology at the University of Lund in Sweden.
Quentin Drew is a cartoonist as well as Lecturer in Archaeology and Director of Foundation Studies at the University of Wales, Lampeter.