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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Archaeological Myths and Mysteries

I've been listening to an audio lecture series called Myths and Mysteries In Archaeology. It's given by a professor of archaeology at George Washington University and promised to look at things like Stonehenge, Atlantis, and whether or not aliens King Arthur really existed as well as other topics. The lecture series was a total of 8 hours. Most lectures were about half an hour long, so there were good breaking points in the audio.

The opening lectures covered archaeology in a general sense, giving basic information about the field. I found this part fascinating and picked up a lot of things I didn't know. For a year while I was in elementary school, I wanted to be an archaeologist, but I never bothered to learn much about it and moved on to other dreams.

I think the general information was the first three lectures and then each subsequent lecture covered a different myth or mystery of archaeology. This was also a degree.

To say the professor was a skeptic was putting it mildly. She shot down pretty much everything, although she did concede that King Arthur probably was a real person, but maybe just a military leader who became a folk hero or something.

TBH, I didn't expect her to believe much in any of these myths. Traditional archaeology strikes me as very conservative and staid. The professor also did make an effort to include information used by the supporters of these more exciting theories. Unfortunately, though, even as she offered the details, her skepticism came through clearly and it made her attempt to offer both sides seem pointless.

I'll admit that I enjoy some of these outlandish ideas. Hey, I write fiction! And I find them exciting even if they're not true. The professor clearly did not share my sense of wonder as she debunked myth after myth. Her arguments were largely compelling, but it disappointed me anyway.

The professor clearly knew her stuff and laid things out concisely, so that even people who were unfamiliar with archaeology could follow easily. I did listen to the entire 8 hours and it held my interest, although by the last couple of lectures, I was almost able to cite the phrase she used right before she shot holes in any theory that didn't adhere to the status quo in the field. Overall, though, I liked the lecture series and I'd definitely check into more along these lines.