Who calls the shots in archaeology documentaries – and why?

Archaeology documentaries have long been established as one of the main ways archaeology’s publics access the material past. Archaeology documentaries pull millions of viewers, promote archaeological values and epistemologies, fund archaeological research, and act as recruiting mechanisms for the next generation of archaeologists. And yet despite thousands of diverse productions made over the past century, archaeology documentaries remain largely neglected by archaeological scholarship. This study investigates that paradox.

The ‘Off The Record: Archaeology in Documentary Filmmaking’ research project aims to characterise and problematize UK archaeology’s relationship with UK documentary filmmaking. Uniquely however, this relationship is considered from the angle of film production as seen from an archaeological perspective. Ultimately by going behind the scenes of archaeology documentary productions, this study aims to put archaeologists’ stories, values, concerns and hopes for archaeology documentaries “on the record”.


Case Study