What If Fictional Archeologists Acted Like Actual Archeologists?

Posted by Jadzia Axelrod

Editor's Note: To finish out 2018, we're revisiting some of our favorite blog posts from the past year. This post was originally published on 3/13/18. 

The adventurer-archeologist is a common story trope, traipsing through jungles and lost tombs in sexy outfits, firing guns and flashing whips, with a quip for every occasion. They’re ready for anything—except, apparently, the actual business of archeology. Here’s a peek at what it would be like if these action heroes acted like their real-world counterparts.


Deep in the ancient caverns, Indiana Jones held his torch high, gazing in absolute wonder at the relic of lost civilization before him. Intricately carved with extensive glyphs and letters, the statue carried the weight of hidden knowledge, once believed only to be legend. But now, looking this statue, Jones realized that so much of what he dismissed as legend is now inconvertible fact.

“What’s it say?” Indiana’s excitable young sidekick blurted out, tugging at the archeologist’s weather-appropriate lightweight jacket.

“Hell if I know,” Indiana said. “I’m not a philologist. Hand me that paper so we can do a rubbing and get it to someone who can actually read it.”




Lara Croft carefully wiped the dirt away from her latest treasure. This was it, the piece that would be the centerpiece of any musuem’s collection. She had trekked through all sorts of inhospitable weather, dealt with a rather paperwork-fond local government, and now, finally, she had found what she had been looking for.

Lara held up her prize to the light, examining it from every angle: a shard of red-brown ceramic, broken off an ancient pot.

“Worth it,” Lara said.




Nathan Drake cracked his neck. This part of his job was ugly, but necessary. And, like it not, he was the man who had to do it. Maybe not the best for the job, but right now, there was no one else.

Nathan sighed, picked up a small broom, and began to patiently sweep dirt off of the dig’s surfaces.




“Professor Song! Professor Song!” The grad student ran to the edge of the dig, waving her hands excitedly. “A strange man in a blue box just appeared out of nowhere, and wants to see you.”

“Tell him I’m busy,” River Song said, not looking up from her notes. “Tell him I’m examining the dirt.”


“Haven’t you taken stratigraphy yet?” River looked up just long enough to see the grad student shake her head. “How did you even get here? Nevermind, I don’t want to know. I’ve got to catalog the differences in the layers of soil here. There’s a storm coming, and no matter how good we cover the dig, we always lose something.”

“The strange man said there was a storm coming too.” The grad student fidgeted, not sure what to do. “But…in space?”

“There’s always a storm in space. It’s usually him.” River squinted at the layers of pebbles in front of her. “He’ll wait. The dirt, sadly, will not.”

Jadzia Axelrod

Jadzia Axelrod

Jadzia Axelrod is an author, an illustrator, and a world changer. Throughout her eventful life she has also been a circus performer, a puppeteer, a graphic designer, a sculptor, a costume designer, a podcaster and quite a few other things that she’s lost track of but will no doubt remember when the situation calls for it.She is the writer and producer of “The Voice Of Free Planet X” podcast, were she interviews stranded time-travelers, low-rent superheroes, unrepentant monsters and other such creature of sci-fi and fantasy, as well as the podcasts “Aliens You Will Meet” and “Fables Of The Flying City.” The story started in “Fables Of The Flying City” is concluded in The Battle Of Blood & Ink, a graphic novel published by Tor.She is not domestic, she is a luxury, and in that sense, necessary.