Harrison Ford an Archaeologist?
Press Release by the AIA
HARRISON FORD HONORED BY THE
ARCHAEOLOGICAL INSTITUTE OF AMERICA
Ford to Be Presented with
First-Ever Adolph Bandelier Award for Public Service
at Organization’s 2009 Gala
Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) (www.archaeological.org), North America’s oldest and largest
organization devoted to the world of archaeology(1), will honor
Harrison Ford at its first-ever gala event, to be
held in April 2009 in New York. Ford will receive
the organization’ inaugural “Adolph Bandelier Award
for Public Service,” honoring his contributions in
raising awareness of archaeology through his work
on-screen in the “Indiana Jones” film series.
“Harrison Ford’s work in his ‘Indiana Jones’ films
have gone above and beyond to generate excitement,
and inspire the next generation of archaeologists,”
said C. Brian Rose, president of the AIA. “With
Harrison recently being elected to our Board of
Directors, we wanted to honor his real-life
commitment to archaeology and the role he has played
in the public’s opinion of our field.”
Speaking of the importance of archaeology, Ford
added, “Knowledge is power, and understanding the
past can only help us in dealing with the present
and the future.”
The AIA’s gala, being held at New York’s Capitale in
April 2009, will celebrate the AIA’s 130th
anniversary and the 60th anniversary of
Archaeology magazine. In addition to Ford,
the Kress Foundation will be honored for its
generous support of the AIA’s National Lecture
Program and annual meeting, and several countries
will be highlighted for their rich archaeological
resources. The dinner menu will be an
interpretation of a traditional, ceremonial Maya
feast, with a selection of desserts from around the
world. There will also be live and silent auctions
for archaeology-themed items and exclusive trips led
by world-renowned archaeologists.
Archaeological Institute of America (AIA):
Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) is North America's oldest and largest organization
devoted to the world of archaeology(1). Founded in 1879 as a non-profit group and chartered by
the United States Congress in 1906, the AIA has
nearly 250,000 members and subscribers belonging to
104 local societies in the United States, Canada and
overseas. The organization promotes public interest
in the cultures and civilizations of the past,
supports archaeological research, fosters the sound
professional practice of archaeology, advocates the
preservation of the world's archaeological heritage
and represents the discipline in the wider world.
The organization hosts archaeological fairs,
lectures and other events throughout North America,
and a variety of books; awards fellowships and
honors; and leads global, archaeological travel
# # #
Here's The Rub!
What exactly has
Harrison Ford, or rather Indiana Jones, done to deserve this
honor? And who might better be the recipient of this
examine the role of Indiana Jones in archaeology. Of
course I've already explored his
latest film here.
In his first movie,
it begins with a classic plunder scene, risking the total
destruction of a significant site, in favor of grabbing the
gold. The underground template was full of artifacts,
glyphs, and yet Indy approaches it as though it was just
another capital cantina - his only focus to grab the golden
idol. Granted that in the story line, he barely makes
it out with his life. What scholar would not have
returned and spent a significant part of his career working
that site? Instead, Indy runs home, only to display
his plunder from his pockets like so many tourist trinkets -
without context, or even care. This is scholarship
worthy of honoring?
While the Indiana
Jones stories are fundamentally adventure stories, they
never the less present a public perception of archaeology -
that we are all grave robbers, only concerned with the gold.
In simple fact, Indiana Jones is the poster child of bad
science (or the lack of any science), a thief, a destroyer
of humanity's common history, and a megalomaniac to boot!
This is the image worthy of honoring?
If, on the other
hand, the movies were at least accurate, I might agree.
However, none of the movies even tried to portray the
reality of the cultures touched upon. So in
fact, not only did Indiana Jones represent just a grave
robber, little or none of the archaeology shown was factual.
Is this worthy of honoring?
I will acknowledge
that Indy has been the hero of many an aspiring student,
looking to go into archaeology as a profession, and many of
us have secretly wished that such adventures were possible.
In this, back handed way, Indiana Jones has played a role in
expanding awareness of our field. But in the manner in
which it was done, the positives don't out way the
negatives. Especially in a country where Scientists
are viewed with distrust, and viewed as dumb geeks out to
destroy the world - false images such as these only serve to
undermine legitimate, pains-taking work of scholars, the
What makes matters
worse, Harrison Ford is being give a board membership with
the AIA! After 130 years, the AIA has become little
more than a media company, selling out to Hollywood.
Anything for ratings and magazine sales it appears!
consequence of this is the revisionist history being written
as we speak. If real history can be abused to such an
extent, and sold out by Hollywood, then the fantasy views of
the Mexican Azlan movement will never be countered by truth
and fact. While currently a fringe movement, the Azlan
seek a massive redistribution of territory and
establishment of a new Aztec homeland. When
ignorance is exploited and promoted, as by the likes of
Indiana Jones movies, it creates the opportunity for political
exploitation of public fantasy (remember Hitler?).
With major and
amazing discoveries happening daily, we need to devote our
energies on real scholarship, not show biz!
I urge the AIA to
reconsider its award, and seek a true example of selfless
scholarship and sacrifice as the recipient.
Maria Reiche for the award, who nearly single-handedly, for
almost 60 years devoted her life to preserving, exploring,
and educating the world about the archaeology of Peru.
There is no finer example of the scientist we aspire to be.
And, in truth, there are numerous other examples, such as
Frederic Catherwood - who along with
John Lloyd Stephens
virtually pioneered American Archaeology!
Instead of honoring
a media fraud, let's honor the real heroes of our field!
Please leave your
thoughts and comments below!
(1) The AIA
is not the oldest Archaeological organization. The
Ethnological Society was begun in 1842 in New York
City by Albert Gallatin, John Lloyd Stephens, and John
Russell Bartlett. While the AES is now focused on
Ethnology, its original focus was broad and did include
archaeology as we know it.