Fake news has been a trending controversy for the past two years, but archaeologists have been debunking strange ideas about past iconic remains for decades, if not centuries.
“Frauds, Myths and Mysteries in Archaeology” will examine fringe ideas in archaeology from giants building the huge earthen mounds in the Midwest to aliens helping the ancient Egyptians construct the pyramids.
“We plan a fun, relaxed atmosphere to address where some of these ideas came from, and how professional anthropologists can deal with them in a responsible manner,” said Jesse Tune, an assistant professor of anthropology at Fort Lewis College.
Other members of the panel will include Aaron Deter-Wolf, a prehistoric archaeologist with the state of Tennessee, and Nadia Neff, adjunct professor of anthropology at FLC.
“A lot of people are interested in anthropology, and people hear and talk about fringe ideas that are not backed by solid anthropological principles. It’s not just Hollywood, Indiana Jones. It goes back centuries to crazy ideas about the stone buildings of South America or the earthen mounds of North America,” Tune said.
“There’s a long-running theme in archaeology of people turning to outlandish themes for basic human building and achievement, and we want to address that,” he said.
Increasing use of the internet as a tool to spread “fake news” parallels an increasing dissemination of fringe ideas about iconic archaeological remains, Tune said.
“With the internet widely available, these fringe ideas are more accessible and distributable than ever before, and we want to look at that,” he said.
Deter-Wolf will also deliver the annual John W. Sanders Lecture, “Otzi the 5,300-year-old Tyrolean Iceman and the World’s Oldest Tattoos,” the main fundraiser for the San Juan Basin Archaeological Society.
Half of all proceeds from the lecture will go toward San Juan Basin Archaeological Society-funded internships at Center of Southwest Studies and scholarships to FLC’s Summer Archaeological Field School.