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40 Years Later: Raiders of The Lost Ark makes lasting impact on archaeology

The couple said the movie inspired more kids to become archeologists, but it wasn’t realistic.
Published: Jun. 25, 2021 at 7:17 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Robert and Erin Darby are archaeology professors at The University of Tennessee. They lead students on archaeological digs in the Middle East through the ‘Ayn Gharandal Archaeological Project.

They have found artifacts that have led to a better understanding of history.

“In 2013, with a group of students from the University of Tennessee, we uncovered a monumental Latin inscription in front of the Roman fort. That is now in the National Museum of Jordan, the Jordan Museum in Amman. So that was a thrill. I mean, and that had, you know, historical ramifications and things, all the information that was on it,” said Robert Darby

“In 2015, we began to uncover a structure that eventually turned out to be a really early Christian church. It was built at this really important time in the development of Christianity and the Roman military. And it’s a structure and most people don’t have access to a really well-preserved fourth-century church like that,” said Erin Darby.

Robert said he was eight-years-old when The Raiders of The Lost Ark premiered.

“And it was the greatest movie I’d ever seen. I loved that movie. It was like $1.25 to go to the movie. And one of my friends and I had a competition to see, like, I think we saw something like 27 times in the movie theater when we were kids,” said Robert Darby.

The couple said the movie inspired more kids to become archeologists, but it wasn’t realistic. Archaeologists create partnerships with locals and have a method to where they want to dig.

“Robert and I use the story as a cautionary tale of what archaeologists don’t do. Archaeologists sometimes have to use the story in Indiana Jones to explain how archaeology is science is different, maybe then the portrayal in the movie, but that doesn’t change the excitement that people generated from watching the movie,” said Erin Darby.

You can learn more about their research here.

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