Postgraduate Research Archaeology Symposium

Kate Rogers (2016)

Keywords: Archaeology documentary, public archaeology, representation, visualisation, media, filmmaking, technology, ethics, UK


ho calls the shots in archaeology documentaries – and why?

Archaeology documentaries have long been established as one of the main ways archaeology’s publics access the material past. Archaeology documentaries pull millions of viewers, promote archaeological values and epistemologies, fund archaeological research, and act as recruiting mechanisms for the next generation of archaeologists. And yet despite thousands of diverse productions made over the past century, archaeology documentaries remain largely neglected by archaeological scholarship. This thesis investigates this paradox.

This study aims to characterise and problematize UK archaeology’s relationship with UK documentary filmmaking. Uniquely this relationship is considered from the angle of film production as seen from an archaeological perspective.

Currently there remains in archaeology a striking lack of awareness of the long history and mutual influence that the discipline shares with documentary. Also there is an absence of systematically collected evidence detailing and critically examining archaeologists’ roles in and attitudes towards archaeology documentaries. To fill this gap, I will generate and analyse three original datasets including: an online survey; a participant-observation case study; and an interview series – all exploring different aspects of this relationship. This new evidence will be contextualised historically and theoretically in order to locate UK archaeology’s place within the media, and documentary’s place within UK archaeology.

Ultimately by going behind the scenes of archaeology documentary productions, this thesis aims to put archaeologists’ stories, values, concerns and hopes for archaeology