In his article Romancing the Stones: Archaeology in Popular Cinema, historian Mark A. Hall looks at how archaeology and archaeologists are depicted in popular cinema and considers how the recurring themes of cultural appropriation, cultural imperialism, and emphasis on “treasured objects” create a somewhat skewed and negative view of the profession.
Among the films examined are the original Indiana Jones trilogy, the Mummy film series, and, of course, the two Tomb Raider films. Ms Croft’s cinematic exploits are derided as being “graphically equated with looting and site destruction”, which is not an inaccurate assessment of her archaeological methods (or lack thereof). After all, she hardly takes the time to conduct comprehensive field surveys of the sites she’s visiting. And when would she have the time to fill out her paperwork when there are hungry animals and ruthless mercenaries on her tail?
If you’re interested in reading what Mark Hall has to say about the depiction of archaeology (and archaeologists) in cinema, you can read the full article here.