Archaeology in Popular Modern Culture


Archaeologyin Popular Modern Culture

Archaeologyin Popular Modern Culture

Archaeologyis the research based studies done on the early and current humanevents through substantial material remains. It is a branch ofAnthropology, which is based on the human cultural studies. Thepresence of fossil remains in various parts of the world hassupported the existence of archaeology. For instance, there arenumerous million-year-old remains of the earliest human ancestors inthe African continent. Other significant ancient buildings in othercontinents such as Europe also support archaeology. In this subfield,the physical remnants of the past are used in quest of a broadunderstanding of the human culture.


Inthe modern and contemporary culture, the subfield of archaeologyappears to have romanticized representation. Numerous films,television shows and other media attempt to incorporate aspects ofthis subfield into their works. In this write-up, one of the moviesbased on archaeological studies is going to be utilized.

Oneof the popular movies used is Exorcist: The Beginning (2004). Theplot revolves around the crisis of religion that Father LankesterMerrin experienced in the dreadful events that took place during theWorld War II. In his home native in Holland, Merrin was compelled toparticipate in arbitrary executions so as to save an entire villagefrom slaughter. He was haunted by such atrocities that were committedagainst the innocent humans in the war. So, he was forced to strugglewith such reality and thus took a sabbatical from the church anddevoted himself to archaeological studies in East Africa. Merrin leftHolland and travelled to Egypt at first. In Cairo, Egypt, he wasapproached by a rare antique collector and requested to take part ina British archaeological excavation in the Turkana region of NorthernKenya (Turkana). In the events following the discovery of theexcavation site, Merrin and the excavators unearth a ChristianByzantine church dating from the circa 500 A.D. This was long beforeChristianity was introduced to Africa, and specifically in EastAfrica. The site was in a perfect condition as it seemed that it hadbeen buried immediately after completion of construction. The rareantique collector argued Merrin to search for an ancient relic(artefact) hidden in the church before the British realize thepresence hidden treasure. In the excavation events, various itemssuch as the statues of the angels pointing down, a crucifix werefound. In the later sections of the movie, Merrin and otherarchaeologists discover that there was also a temple beneath thechurch. The discoveries at the site led to a series of events thateventually led to the death of many people.

Archaeologyperfectly fits in this movie because there is an excavation of fossilremains dating many years back from the current establishment. It wasan attempt to study human culture through religion, and theexcavators found out that there was presence of Christianity in sucha region, and long before it was introduced in the area.

Themovie presents a crucial theme in archaeology. The main theme was tostudy human culture through religion. Archaeology mainly exploits theuse of excavation sites for searching any evidence of past life, andthe movie Exorcist has done well in presenting the use of anexcavation site to unearth the remains of the Christian Byzantinechurch. Archaeology employs professionals in this endeavors, and thiswas evident in the movie, in that, the main actor Father LankesterMerrin and other co-workers such as the lead archeologist, MonsieurBesson were key roles in finding the fossilized remains. Undoubtedly,archaeology is a time-consuming venture, and this was apparent in themovie as it took a long time to find most of the remains of the site.

Themovie presents archaeology in a positive light. This was obviousbecause the whole excavation procedure was done in transparency, andit involved a chain of workers, from the leading archaeologists tothe site diggers, the local tribesmen. Fossil remains are exploitedin further studies in Anthropology, and this was obvious in that,Father Merrin used the site’s collections to study the religiousestablishment that took place in that region a long time ago.However, the movie contains highly fictionalized experiences such asthe presence of strange diseases and unexplained deaths that affectedthe actors.


Archaeologyis a common topic in popular culture. One of the main reasons is thatit tries to study humanity in all dimensions. People would like toknow their past lives or events, and this is the essence ofarchaeology. Therefore, it is an interesting concept amidst theinvolved and uninvolved stakeholders. The involved stakeholders arethe archaeologists that are directly involved with the excavationactivities while the indirectly involved (uninvolved) stakeholdersare the readers who tend to seek the knowledge after sufficientstudies are carried out. Archaeology is also a contentious issuebecause the mainstream religious bodies tend to take differentopinions based on the existence of humanity. Religion and Archaeologydiffer in various dimensions. For instance, religion argues thathumans were created from a superior being while archaeology arguesthat humanity is as a result of evolution.


IMDb. (2004).Exorcist:The Beginning. Retrieved 6 March, 2016, from