This section explores what Real Archaeologists believe and what separates them from Bad Archaeologists. We also offer tips on how to spot Bad Archaeology before it’s too late.
Myths and legends
Bad Archaeologists are very fond of myths and legends, claiming that they should be taken more seriously by Good Archaeologists, whom they castigate for ignoring them. But Good Archaeologists do use myths and legends: they just have different ways of understanding them, which involves putting them into the context in which they developed, rather than reading them through twenty-first century glasses and imposing contemporary meanings on them.
Bad Archaeology is part of a special realm of discourse, which has been termed Pseudoscience or Bad Science. It is (and has long been) enormously influential: witness the popularity of beliefs in ghosts, homeopathy, UFOs, crystal healing and so on. It shares a lot of features with them and many of these different areas of discourse have significant overlaps with each other.
The Two Types
What separates Good Archaeology from Bad Archaeology is the same feature that separates two different types of human beings: those who seek answers through questions and those who seek answers through authorities. It’s also the difference between science and religion, and between leading and following.