Watching Robot Wars the other day (Rooney!) it occurred to me that there’ve been quite a few archaeologists on MST3K. As an archaeologist, I thought I’d offer my thoughts on each of them. I mean, a lot of what you see in the media about us just isn’t accurate. We do still fight a lot of Nazis, though.
Robot Wars: We’ll start with Leda since she started this, and because Barbara Crampton is awesome (and apparently doesn’t age!). Normally we don’t work alone, but we do take soil samples and routinely investigate weird conspiracies. She’s also a pretty good fighter, and who among us hasn’t had to fight off a bunch of Centros in our time?
Being from Another Planet: Ben Murphy’s pretty mellow, and so are a lot of archaeologists. Normally we let the special hazmat guys deal with killer fungus, though. I’m not even an Egyptologist and I’ve fought at least two mummies in my time, so that’s pretty accurate. But aliens, though, really? That’s just too goofy, and the whole “aliens must have done it!” is just racist garbage.
The Mole People: I haven’t seen this one in a while, so I might miss something. These guys, man, they were out of date even at the time. Finding a forgotten remnant of an ancient civilisation lost in some ridiculous Hollow Earth scenario, then “accidentally” destroying all the evidence? How positively Victorian! Plus, I’ve only seen like, three mole people in my entire career, and they’re nothing like these guys. Normally they just complain.
Werewolf: 100% accurate. Ha, just kidding! We almost never get into brawls in the trench, and when we turn people into werewolves we’ve got a better reason than just killing off security guards. We do exclude Joe Estevez from our excavations, though. There are also a lot of foreigners working in archaeology. Technically I am one, but my accent isn’t that outrageous and my hair hasn’t changed in over ten years.
Honorable mentions where they’re not actually archaeologists.
Beyond Atlantis: Uh, we’ve got a super general all science background haver or something? I’m starting to think she’s got one of those mail-order divinity doctorates, but maybe this is a hobby and she’s really good at whatever it is she actually does. Anyway, we usually try not to destroy the cultures we study these days and rarely have to use Slow English because we work closely with local archaeologists.
Final Sacrifice: Troy’s an amateur archaeologist, I suppose, but we’re not that whiny. Fighting cults is pretty normal, though. I’d worry if I worked on a site for more than a couple of weeks and didn’t run into one, actually. But lost cities? None of the cults we get these days can manage that level anymore; it’s way too much effort. The best most can pull off is a lost convenience store or something. I did get sacrificed once, but I got better.
Terror from the Year 5000: This is sort of reverse archaeology, looking at artefacts from the future. Using radiocarbon dating is silly, though, since it’s not an organic artefact and it’s from the future! Plus, you can’t date anything from after the 50s since we’ve severely disrupted the carbon cycle in ways that will probably lead to that bad future. So that’s kind of a funny twist. Weirdly related, I did run into a version of me from the future once. That guy’s a jerk.
I’ve probably missed one or two, but hopefully that’s a good start and will give a bit of insight into what archaeology is really like.