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Old 05-26-2008, 09:13 AM
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Indiana Jones the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull: A bad role model for archaeologists

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull: A bad role model for archaeologists

By Nick Squires in Sydney
Last Updated: 5:46PM BST 24/05/2008

He may be storming box offices worldwide as everybody's favourite tomb raider, but Indiana Jones breaks every rule in the archaeological book.

Indiana Jones: guilty of unethical and possibly illegal behaviour?
For all his swashbuckling adventures, the fictional Dr Jones would be found guilty of unethical and quite possibly illegal behaviour, the head of the World Archaeological Congress said.

"In pursuit of 'fortune and glory' Jones ignores international treaties, treats human remains as weapons, and destroys archaeological sites in a bid to escape from potential entombment and other worrisome possibilities," said Professor Claire Smith of Australia's Newcastle University.

While the fourth instalment in the adventure series, "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull", would spur interest in archaeology, the whip-cracking buccaneer played by Harrison Ford would earn the opprobrium of colleagues were he to exist for real.

"Archaeologists are concerned with preserving the past, not making a profit from it, and sometimes Jones seems more finely tuned to the commercial value of an artefact than the information it can give us about past peoples.

"This impression is reinforced by occasional references to him as a grave robber," she added.

Prof Smith said the Indiana Jones films contain an imperialist assumption that artefacts in far-flung parts of the world needed "protection" by Westerners.

"The native people who hinder Jones in Crystal Skull are, in fact, descendants of the people who made the artefacts that Jones seeks and the contemporary cultural custodians of the site," she said.

Although his methods are cavalier, Indiana Jones had at least succeeded in making "a pedantic and exacting science appear exciting," said Prof Smith.

Despite having to conduct painstakingly methodical excavation, real life archaeologists sometimes encountered moments of excitement, if not terror.

"One of my colleagues was held at gunpoint while his four-wheel drive was used for a bank robbery in New Guinea," she said.

"Another had his life threatened while recording graffiti in cells used to house political activists in Argentina."

It is not just the world of academia that has it in for "Indie". Russia's Communist Party condemned the new movie today as crude anti-Soviet propaganda that distorted history.

The new film, set in 1957 at the height of the Cold War, has Indiana Jones competing with an evil KGB agent, played by Cate Blanchett, to find a skull endowed with mystic powers.

"What galls is how together with America we defeated Hitler, and how we sympathised when Bin Laden hit them. But they go ahead and scare kids with Communists. These people have no shame," said Viktor Perov, a party member in St Petersburg.

The film went on release in Russian cinemas yesterday. Russian media said it was being shown in more than 800 cinemas, the widest ever release for a Hollywood movie.

"Harrison Ford and Cate Blanchett (are) second-rate actors, serving as the running dogs of the CIA," alleged another party member, Andrei Gindos.

"We need to deprive these people of the right of entering the country."

The film is low-quality and would raise a smile if there wasn't a danger of drawing into its orbit teenagers who know nothing about the 1950s," said Vladimir Mukhin, another member.

He added: "Indians and aliens unite with Jones and his untrustworthy buddies to save the world from a Russian threat - what rubbish, simply a paranoid Churchillian fantasy."
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Old 06-22-2008, 07:58 AM
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