Archaeology, Museums, Heritage and Material Culture Seminar, 13 September
Denis Gojak | The University of Sydney
“Unmasking secret visitors: challenging pseudoarchaeology in Australia”
Pseudoarchaeology is on the rise. Fuelled by the internet and a broadening erosion of trust in expertise and authority, claims about the past that rely on misinterpreting and misrepresenting archaeological evidence are becoming increasingly pervasive. In Australia’s case such alternative history-making has taken place since the start of European settlement. While sometimes archaeologists and historians actively challenged it, usually they ignored its presence hoping it would just go away. It hasn’t. This presentation looks at some of the key Australian advocates of pseudoarchaeology, and how they interacted with the archaeological establishment from the late 19th century to the present. It examines their evidence, how they constructed and spread their message to convince their audience, and its effects. But does it really matter that some people are convinced there are Egyptian princes buried in the bush at Gosford, or that Vikings rowed to Cairns? I believe it does, but if we are to do more than wring our hands, appalled at people’s ignorance we need to understand how and why such ideas propagate. Looking at more than a century’s interaction between orthodox and alternative archaeology, what lessons can we draw that are relevant to our own professional ethical disciplinary responsibilities, and how we can better respond to the rise in pseudoarchaeological beliefs?
The Department of Archaeology hosts a lively departmental research seminar series. Everyone is welcome to attend.
Seminars are held in the Refectory from 4-5pm, and are followed by drinks and discussion.
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2019 Seminar Series convenors:
Alix Thoeming, Katherine Woo, and Simon Wyatt-Spratt
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The Department of Archaeology is part of the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry (SOPHI).