Science Fiction and Archaeology: Part 2 – Grave-robbers, explorers and dilettantes
See Part 1 for why I think archaeology and science fiction share certain approaches and why they ought to go well together. This post will explore how they’ve tried and often failed.
Two Prometheuses (Prometheis?) bookend the relationship so far, and between them exemplify many of the recurring tropes which have characterised archaeological SF: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus, seen by many as the first true SF novel; and Ridley Scott’s 2012 cinematic Prometheus. They take us from Gothic grave-robbers, through von Dänikenesque Chariots of the Gods to Big Dumb Objects and the Ozymandian relics of long-dead alien civilisations.
Frankenstein, illustrated by Bernie Wrightson
Now obviously, archaeology’s far from central to Frankenstein. As a discipline it was still in its infancy in 1815; anatomy and the fledgling science of galvanism were Shelley’s immediate inspirations, not the work of those adventuring plunderers who kept…
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