I have always been fascinated by archaeology. This subject isn’t just about digging up old bones and fossils or remnants of ages past. An archaeologist is just another historian. Whereas a historian in the traditional sense will use documents and stories and existing treasures to inform us of past events and how life was, the archaeologist works at the very bedrock (groan) of civilisation and unlocks many clues to our social evolution. When you first think of subjects for Hollywood blockbusters, archaeological movies probably isn’t the first thing that springs to mind but there are a surprising amount of really good flicks where unearthing the Earth’s rich past is central to or plays a big part in the plot/story. Here are 8 Age-Defying Archaelogical Movies You Should Really Dig:
1. The Mummy
The first in series of 3 very successful films starring Brendan Fraser, centres on a dig uncovering the City of the Dead at Hamunaptra. Seeking the valuables of its entombed kings the treasure seekers awaken The Mummy. Having been buried alive for daring to love the Pharoah’s concubine, High Priest Imoteph is awake again and intent on reviving his former love, wreaking a trail of death and mayhem across Egypt. Our heroine uncannily bears a distinct resemblance to the Mummy’s love interest and this sets up the plot for the next instalment.
Can geeky archaeologist Daniel Jackson (James Spader) unlock the secret to the Stargate and if he can where will it lead them? To a land that blends Egyptian myth and legend with space travel – but of course, what else? Naturally, the archaeologist is at odds with the agenda of jackbooted army man (played by Kurt Russell) as they battle evil Sun God Ra.
In one of the archaeological movies depicting more modern times, Matthew McConaunghey plays Dirk Pitt, the master explorer created by Clive Cussler. The intrepid ex-Navy Seal goes in search of a lost battleship – the Ship of Death – and its secret cargo in the deserts of West Africa. The ubiquitous heroine pops up in the form of Dr. Eva Rojas (played by Selma Hajek), also looking for the hidden treasure but for less altruistic reasons. Of course there’s plenty of baddies to deal with during their heroic quest.
4. Lara Croft, Tomb Raider
As if us girls don’t have enough to contend with the spectre of Angelina Jolie’s sheer beauty, they had to cast her in the epitome of a male fantasy role of an all action, kick ass, lip pouting, shorty short wearing dig chick. In the first of the Croft adventures, Lara has to race baddies (the Illuminati) and time, to recover some powerful ancient artefacts.
5. Jurassic Park
What happens when archaeology goes wrong? Big bad dinosaurs run amok and eat people, that’s what. Sam Neil and Laura Dern play archaeologists who in return for funds to continue their excavation of genuine fossils, are asked to endorse a prehistoric theme park were the main attraction is genetically engineered dinosaurs. Want to know how man and animals separated by millions of years get on when thrown together articifially? Tune in to this excellent archaeological movie and find out.
6. The Librarian: Return to King Solomon’s Mine
Who said librarians are bookish, boring people? Noah Wyle hung up his ER doctor’s coat to become librarian-turned-adventurer Flynn Carsen. In this, the second of the Librarian films, Carsen sets out to find the fabled King Solomon’s Mines after receiving a mysterious map in the post. Of course, being an archaeological movie, this isn’t just a case of follow the map, find the treasure, dig it up and go home to donate it to some worthy museum; Carsen and his delicious female companion have to battle evil baddies through the wilds of Africa.
7. Indiana Jones and ...and ...and... and
The daddy of all archaeological movies and there’s not just one but four of them. As Indiana Jones, Harrison Ford makes us believe that professors and museum types are sexy as he involves us in a series of adventures that end up with him escaping from all sorts of life threatening scrapes. Throw in some beautiful love interests, cute cheeky scamps, evil baddies (including some nasty Nazis) and a dad played by Sean Connery and you have all the ingredients for some good old adventure yarns.
8. Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy
I make no apologies for including this one in my list of top archaeological movies. Abbott and Costello were comedy geniuses and their films are enjoyable slapstick romps of stupidity. It may be black and white, but the atmosphere is similar to a modern day Scooby Doo cartoon. Everything in this movie (as in all their offerings) is contrived, adulterated and designed purely for one reason – to tell a story and make the audience laugh. The laughs are monstrous!
So there it is. I hope my list of 8 Age-Defying Archaeological Movies that you should really dig has entertained you and maybe there were some inclusions that surprised you. Archaeology is such a great foundation for myths and legend that I’m surprised there aren’t more movies. Not such a fuddy duddy subject after all is it?
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