Not Exactly Indiana Jones

Not Like the Movies

You know, when archaeology makes it in popular media, it’s a pretty exciting endeavor.

Indiana Jones certainly comes to mind for people when I go to talk to a seminary or church. Of course, everybody knows that movie is not true a true representation of the field, but it does affect the way that we think of archaeology.

In the movies, Indiana Jones goes to find specific objects, to dig them up, get them to a museum and frankly, make a little bit of money (or at least honor) in the process. And that is not good archaeology. It is what people did 150 or 200 years ago, but we now recognize that is not a good procedure.

Tedious but Rewarding

In truth, archaeology can be an incredibly boring thing to do. If you were to dig three meters or yards down into an archaeological square (technically four meters by four meters, or about four yards by four yards) over the course of a whole summer, that'd be really fast.

Every one of those finds puts you a little bit more in touch with people who lived a thousand, two thousand, three thousand years ago, and that’s just thrilling.

It is very slow painstaking work, bit by bit. But then you come across something that’s exciting and you stop to take pictures and document it. By the time you documented it, you’re less enthused about what you just found. It’s a slow, painstaking process to do well, but doing it well is the whole point.

The Thrill of Discovery

Another misconception is that archaeologists go out to look for something in order to find it. There’s a real danger with that because if you’re looking for something, then you are going to find it whether it’s there or not. You’re just mentally primed to do it.

It’s much better to go to a site and say, “We think there’s something here, we don’t know what it is. We’re just going to start excavating in the places that look most promising, do our work methodically, and then write a really good description.” That reality may seem a lot less exciting to people.

ESV Archaeology Study Bible

ESV Archaeology Study Bible

The ESV Archaeology Study Bible roots the biblical text in its historical and cultural context, giving Bible readers a framework for better understanding the people, places, and events recorded in Scripture.

Additionally, it can be 120-130 degrees in the shade when we're digging during the summers in Jordan. It’s hot and musty, but what's really cool about it is that every time you come across a little pottery fragment or maybe something bigger—a whole pot, vessel, oven, wall line, or mosaic pavement.

Every one of those finds puts you a little bit more in touch with people who lived a thousand, two thousand, three thousand years ago, and that’s just thrilling.



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