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The Good, the Bad, and the Bearded. Popular Images of archaeologists and how we see ourselves. Larry J. Zimmerman Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. On Being an Archaeologist.

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The Good, the Bad, and the Bearded

Popular Images of archaeologists and how we see ourselves

Larry J. Zimmerman

Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis


On Being an Archaeologist

It takes very special qualities to devote one\'s life to problems with no attainable solutions and to poking around in dead people\'s garbage: Words like \'masochistic\', \'nosy,\' and \'completely batty\' spring to mind.Paul Bahn. 1989. Bluff Your Way in Archaeology. Ravette Books, West Sussex.


Some thoughts about archaeology…


…and a variety of opinions.



Archaeology is one of most exciting things you can do outside of bed!

Just about every archaeologist you talk to

It seems as if everyone either wants to be an archaeologist or hates us!


I believe in looking reality straight in the eye and denying it.

Garrison Keillor

Just what are the images of archaeologists?


How the Public sees Archaeologists

Sketches by 12-year-old students


From kids to adults, things don’t seem to change

Sketches by 20 –something university students


Neither man nor woman can be worth anything until they have discovered that they are fools.

Lord Melbourne


How we’d like to see ourselves (men)

Yes, this is a painting a real archaeologist had done of himself!


The reality (men)

Yes, these are real archaeologists, albeit Europeans


Larry Z’s archaeologist self-image

Paul Walker, a buff young archaeologist in Michael Crichton’s “Timeline” (November 2003)


An image is not simply a trademark, a design, a slogan or an easily remembered picture. It is a studiously crafted personality profile of an individual, institution, corporation, product or service.

Daniel J. Boorstin


Notice anything similar about these famous archaeologists?

Gerard Fowke

A.V. Kidder

Sir M. W. F. Petrie


What’s this thing with beards?

At the age of sixteen I went to evening classes in the local museum at Nuneaton…. Firstly I was struck by the number of beards in the audience.

David Miles, Chief Archaeologist at English Heritage

I was working as an archaeologist and we all had beards, even the women.

Steven Erikson, 2002

And I thought you all had long beards with bits of detritus to be excavated at the end of each month.

Petethedig, online at British Archaeological Jobs Resources Message Board


You think it’s a joke?

Yes, these are all real archaeologists!


Anybody can be an archaeologist, no training necessary!

Scientology founder and science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard on an expedition in the Mediterranean

Graham Hancock


Even a high school kid thrown into the past…

The lucky devil…. Why don’t I ever find anything like this?


Even Captain Jean-Luc “Make it so!” Picard

  • near-professional pursuit of archeology
  • studied the Iconian culture since his cadet days.
  • addressed the Federation Archeological Council as keynote speaker on his oft-studied Tagus III ruins in 2367

With his striking resemblance to that Kennewick guy…

…studied by that archaeologist, Jim Chatters, with a profound resemblance to Indiana Jones…

…but with a beard!


On the serious side…

To be bearded has another meaning…

To take by the beard; to seize, pluck, or pull the beard of (a man), in anger or contempt. 2. To oppose to the gills; to set at defiance.


But the faces of archaeology are changing, and they might even be less bearded.

Yes, these are all real archaeologists!


The past is not simply the past, but a prism through which the subject filters his own changing self-image.

  • Doris Kearns Goodwin

One last bit of archaeological wisdom…

Don’t lean on the transit!