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Da Vinci Code and (pseudo)archaeology
#1
Quote:quote:Originally posted by Beardstroker

Quote:quote:Originally posted by BAJR Host
[Off to see the film tonight.... welll..... no your enemy I say
I would spend the money on a better film, Mr Hosty (or alternatively beer and chips) it really is the most godawfully dull piece of bilge.Big Grin Shame as the book was actually moderately entertaining.
I find this whole phenomenon fascinating. The book IS entertaining (though bits of it could have been better written IMHO), the film as Beardstroker says only moderately so, and to my mind pretty difficult to follow if you've not read the book first.

What I find astounding is its enough for the author to write that the Priory of Sion "is a real organization" and that Opus Dei exists (duh !) and "all descriptions of artwork, architecture, documentsand secret rituals in this novel are accurate" (how could they not be?) and a large part of the reading public starts half-believing (or actually believing) in the conspiracy theory at the book's core.

And yet, a mouse-click or two away, almost any of the people who bought the book can easily find dozens of pieces of (verifiable) information which show the conspiracy theory really has too many holes to be plausible (like the infamous documents created by Pierre Plantard and planted in the Bibliotheque Nationale)... So the question is, why dont they? We live in an age when we can easily search for information without having to get off our backsides and go to a library or bookshop. The Internet, read critically (like anything else), puts it right under our nose. In theory we should be the best informed generation there has ever been, and yet we live in an age when all sorts of empty-brained and intellectually-flawed crap flourishes. Von Daniken and Graham Hancock and Holy Blood- Holy Grail/Da Vinci Code type nonsenses get widely accepted, even though anyone wishing to just check out a few facts or opposing views for themselves can do so. So why dont they? Do they want to be led up the garden path by any charlatan who can put pen to paper? (1)

I think this is importatnt for us to think about, as we produce one (set of) vision[s] of the past, while our public (the ones we say we are doing it all for) produce and all-too-willingly accept their own and sharply conflicting visions and dismiss any attempt to show (when we care to attempt it) that there is another version of events.

The believers in these "fringe" (though in fact in terms of size perhaps THESE are now the mainstream heories) are not so interested in checking out the basic facts and deciding between opposing models, all they need is an attractively-packaged version of "the "experts" got this wrong/ told you only half the truth / dont understand this" and there you have an instant public archaeology. Is there not a potential danger here with implications for the future of archaeology when millions of people want a more "exciting" version of the past full of "mysteries" ad "massive cover-ups" and we (the parties accused of doing the covering-up and getting it all wrong) keep giving the same old stuff?

Should we be blithely ignoring this sort of phenomenon? I think to a certain extent we do, we tend to pooh-pooh it and assume it will all blow over... (2) but what are the cumulative effects? Or should we be thinking of ways to more aggressively counter this kind of nonsense? Or should we go along with it in the spirit of liberalism and a Post-Modern "Anything goes"?

What implications would these three approaches have for British (and not only of course) archaeology? Any thoughts?

Paul Barford


(1) To clarify, in the case of the DVC, to my mind, the charlatans are the authors of Holy Blood ad Holy Grail, I think the situation about what Dan Brown set out to write is much more complex. They should be seen together ad not in isolation.

(2) Yes I know some of us produce books and websites (like the Hall of Ma'at) to counter them, but it seems to me that they rarely reach where they are needed.

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Messages In This Thread
Da Vinci Code and (pseudo)archaeology - by Paul Barford - 1st August 2006, 10:11 AM
Da Vinci Code and (pseudo)archaeology - by Magpie - 1st August 2006, 10:52 AM
Da Vinci Code and (pseudo)archaeology - by tom wilson - 1st August 2006, 11:16 AM
Da Vinci Code and (pseudo)archaeology - by eggbasket - 1st August 2006, 11:37 AM
Da Vinci Code and (pseudo)archaeology - by Curator Kid - 1st August 2006, 12:30 PM
Da Vinci Code and (pseudo)archaeology - by Tim - 9th August 2006, 12:32 PM

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