- It’s no secret that far more people watch TV shows like the History Channel’s ‘Ancient Aliens’ than attend lectures by professional archaeologists and historians. Millions of people tune in to watch TV series and docu-dramas with a questionable grip on facts about the past. The stories spun by producers and writers may have some basis in truth, but they’re largely stories — they’re compelling stories, though, and they’re aimed at a general audience the way that most academic output isn’t.
Unfortunately, tales of ancient aliens and extraordinary humans creating the Pyramids as a communication device are often more fascinating than slow cultural change. We as archaeologists need to find a way to showcase the humanity of the past and get across the idea that ancient humans were intelligent, capable, and innovative — that those of us alive today are the product of that long history of innovation, and that we are continuing the tradition of our early ancestors by inventing cars, computers, and, yes, even pseudoarchaeology.