All the hot chicks love Indiana Jones

Occasionally I wonder whether scholars have all been shot through the brains before receiving tenure.  But then I read an article which cheers the heart.  This from Dan Shoup at Archaeology hits the nail on the head.

On that note, I offer you two propositions about the discipline.

1) In the popular imagination, archaeology is a form of science fiction.

2) Archaeologists should embrace this, and start writing science fiction that promotes their vision of the past and agenda for the present.

You heard that right: for most people, archaeology is just a flavor of science fiction. And that’s not a bad thing.

Dan has grasped what the role of archaeology in popular culture is.  His article is well worth reading.

But don’t we *envy* the archaeologists?  Their effortless access to the media, their “Indiana Jones” image?  Their state-funding?  Of course we do.  Most scholars of classics or patristics can only dream of such things.

But the cure is in our hands.  We need to communicate better.  We too need to be selling Science Fiction to the masses.  If we want funding, that is.

We’ve coasted, for a long time, on the image of the ivory tower, and the elitism of classics.  But these don’t play nearly as well today as they did when university meant Oxford or Cambridge, where the sons of the gentry went to learn Latin verse.  So what kind of image should we pursue?

For patristrics, we have to ask why patristics scholars make no effort to communicate with the Christians — the natural and normal audience for their work?   The nearest we get is cranks  going out to look for Noah’s ark!  Well, can’t we think of something better?

4 thoughts on “All the hot chicks love Indiana Jones

  1. Actually patristics is quite high in popular culture in Greece. The Fathers of the Church are considered the continuators of the ancient philosophers. The Three Fathers of the 4th century (Basil the Great, John Chrysostom, Gregory the Theologian) are considered the Byzantine equivilent of the Three Philosophers of the Classical Age (Socrates, Plato, Aristotle). Not to mention that in the Orthodox East we consider that the age of the Fathers of the Church continues to this day and we include even people who are alive like father Georgios Metallinos or Bishop Ierotheus of Naupactus

  2. But… archaeologists never publish anything. If they started writing sf stories today, they wouldn’t send them to a publisher until at least twenty years had gone by. Meanwhile, they would circulate their plotlines to each other in private letters.

  3. I forgot to add that my best friend, an English professor who loves genre fiction, has been bemoaning to me the relative lack of good Christian romance books set in early Christian times. But honestly, anything Greek or Roman has a lot of appeal to readers, Christian or not. People just like a good sword and sandal story; and if they can’t get a good one, they’re fine with reading bad ones.

  4. You’re right! There is a need for some good Christian books in that period.

    There’s quite a bit of detective fiction set in the ancient world, but none of it Christian. Stephen Saylor’s books are too nasty for me, although I’m sure they reflect a real aspect of the ancient world. Lindsay Davis’ “Falco” books used to be excellent, but the last few have been dreadfully poor.

Leave a Reply