Bad Archaeology is the brainchild of a couple of archaeologists who are fed up with the distorted view of the past that passes for knowledge in popular culture. We are unhappy that books written by people with no knowledge of real archaeology dominate the shelves at respectable bookshops. We do not appreciate news programmes that talk about ley lines (for example) as if they are real.
In short, we are Angry Archaeologists.
Now with added blog!
Archaeology is extraordinarily diverse. From the field technicians knee deep in mud in a Hebridean winter to the Classical specialist examining frescoes on a wall at Pompeii, from the geneticist tracing ancient bovine DNA to the linguist refining our understanding of Maya inscriptions, the range of specialisms and viewpoints is enormous. Nevertheless, there are commonalities of approach and boundaries to that diversity, united by what may be termed ‘the scientific method’.
These boundaries are best explained by showing what archaeology is not. Someone who uses explanations that involve unknown civilisations, extraterrestrial contact, the inerrancy of religious texts or the operation of paranormal powers, belongs to a very different intellectual tradition from mainstream archaeology. The orthodoxy – itself a mass of contradictory, competing and often abstruse arguments – generally relegates these other investigators to a ‘fringe’ or ‘cult’ status, as a result their claims go unchallenged.
The aim of this site is to explore the main strands of thought within the ‘fringe’, to explain how and why they are different from orthodox archaeology. Although much of what we have written is aimed at debunking the misconceptions and distortions of the past promoted by fringe writers, we are always open to the idea that they may be able to tell orthodox archaeology something of value. The fringe is interesting and entertaining in its own right; this site can only scratch the surface of such a huge area of human endeavour but we will continue to dig away, exposing Bad Archaeology wherever we find it.