Adventurer Archaeologist

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Yeah, but who would you rather be?


"You would use a bulldozer to find a china cup."
Rene Belloq, Raiders of the Lost Ark

In Real Life, archeology is not the most fast paced of careers. It can involve a lot of research, dirt, and going over small details like diet and theorizing on them. A real archaeologist can make his career by the meticulous analysis of the contents of a garbage dump and indeed, they (well, a few) would prefer to find the dump rather than a king's tomb, since the dump can tell them far more about the way ordinary people lived, with far fewer legal and ethical ramifications. Additionally, a dump will have items of low or underestimated value, reducing the allure for tomb robbers who might have broken into tombs and ruined the information.

Not so in fiction-land. Since most of the world has the ruins of ancient and powerful civilizations littered under the surface, archeology is a career that brings one constantly face to face with Lost Technology, imprisoned evils, and MacGuffins. Lots of MacGuffins. If it takes place on Earth and the writers don't make one up, it'll usually be something like an Egyptian tomb (expect a Mummy to haunt our hero) or the Holy Grail.

In fiction, it then becomes perfectly reasonable to use any means to acquire said MacGuffins, no matter how destructive. Who cares if you have to destroy ancient machinery that could well be thousands of years old and still works? There's a gold monkey at the end! And you get to wear a dashing Adventurer Outfit!

Adventurer Archaeologists are capable of dressing up very well for more intellectual appearances, but forays into studying usually occur off-screen, and it's never implied to take very long. (Compare Badass Bookworm.)

An Adventurer Archaeologist has an interesting morality. Ruins are rarely really "abandoned" as the descendants of the Precursors, or their ghosts, or even their mystically preserved selves are very upset when outsiders intrude, and especially when they take the focal points of their culture with them.

Most people call this "theft," and in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, it's noted that the title character has been called a "grave robber" (although real archaeologists were once considered that). However, to an Adventurer Archaeologist, it's okay as long as it goes into a museum. To keep the audience rooting for the Adventurer Archaeologist, he or she is often pitted against an Evil Counterpart who wants the same treasure for themselves to hoard in a private collection, or to give it to the bad guys/sell to the highest bidder, use it to Take Over the World, etc.

This trope is Older Than Radio, an accomplishment when considering that archeology is a profession less than two centuries old. Antiquarians, historians, and intellectual grave robbers were a staple of 19th Century gothic horror and ghost stories. They appeared regularly in pulp adventure novels and film adventures dating back to the dawn of talking pictures, including the Universal mummy movies and the Johnny Weismuller Tarzan films. A certain George Lucas and Steven Spielberg series made it big again in The Eighties.

It should be noted, however, that this Trope and its origins do come from Truth in err.... Literature. Early archaeologists tended to be more concerned about their own glory and getting museum trinkets that looked good than actually discovering information about ancient cultures, or preserving knowledge for future research—let alone respecting or collaborating with the modern descendants of the people whose tombs and temples they excavated. Their methods were often horrible by modern scientific standards, as the examples below show, and they usually discarded artifacts that weren't glamorous or shiny, including some types that are considered quite scientifically valuable today. As a result, no one knows how much historical evidence will never be known to us through the carelessness of 19th and early 20th century archaeologists.

Often the main character in a Jungle Opera.

Examples of Adventurer Archaeologist include:


Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Seta from Love Hina; he takes on Keitaro as an assistant for a summer job.
  • Midori Sugiura's university professor and Most Important Person in My-HiME; we only see him in the end, having a stereotypical Adventurer Archaeologist adventure with Midori.
  • Prior to the start of Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle this was clone Syaoran's profession, giving him the seeds of skills needed for his task. (Being trained on the side by an obsessed Vampire Hunter helps too).
  • Yuuno Scrya from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. At age 10. With no parental supervision. On top of this, he's a high-class mage. He's more self-effacing than the usual example of this trope, and has some trouble with self-esteem and romance. However, though he fulfills this archetype before and sort-of during the first season, in the second season, he's introduced to the magically huge and horrendously disorganized Infinity Library. It holds just about any answer you might need... IF you can find it. He enters and practically never leaves again.
  • Bakura Ryou's father is an archaeologist in the anime and the owner of the Domino museum in the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga. Supposedly he bought the Millennium Ring on the streets of Cairo. Also, Solomon Muto—he found the Millennium Puzzle in a pharaoh's tomb filled with all sorts of traps.
  • Hunter Steele from Spider Riders may be one. Before he found the way to the Inner World, he had several archaeological tools with him. Also his grandfather may have been one because he found it first. Actually Mantid was first, arriving sometime during the 19th century, which means he may have also been an archaeologist.
  • Nico Robin of One Piece is an ex-Dragon archaeologist assassin pirate.
    • Robin's mother, Nico Olvia, and a group of her fellow scholars set out on the seas of the One Piece world to locate clues to a blank spot in history known as the Void Century.
  • Explorer Woman Ray, title character of the anime of the same name. A late 1980s attempt by the anime industry to cash in on the popularity of Indiana Jones and the Girls with Guns genre (EWR's theme music even sounds eerily similar to John William's Indiana Jones theme).
  • Ruby Crecent from 666 Satan (AKA O-Parts Hunter) is a young archeologist who meets the main character when looking for her father.
  • Two of Axis Powers Hetalia's Alfred/America's hobbies are adventuring and archeology.
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima, the members of Mahora's Library Club are all Adventure Archaeologists in training. Said library is filled with booby traps, cliffs, waterfall, and magical items. Students are actually banned from going to the lower levels because of the danger.
  • Taichi Keaton is an archaeologist, though he seldom has much adventure pursuing it. His other profession as an insurance fraud investigator more than makes up for that.
  • Some Hunters in Hunter X Hunter "hunt" ancient ruins and artifacts instead of animals or people. Gon's father Ging earned recognition for his work in uncovering incredible archaeological finds.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • The Thief from Dan Hipp's Gyakushu is a great example of the trope.
  • The Diggers sisters in Fred Perry's Gold Digger.
  • This was the Secret Identity of the Golden Age Hawkman, who has returned as the current Hawkman.
  • Archaeology is second only to research scientist on the list of "most origin-prone professions".
    • The DCU's Golden Age Blue Beetle Dan Garrett found the scarab that gave him his powers while looking through an ancient tomb.
      • This actually represents a backdating of the Silver Age version to the Golden Age. The actual Golden Age Blue Beetle stories from Fox had him as a policeman.
    • Rex Mason, who was transformed into Metamorpho by an artifact in an Egyptian tomb.
    • The original Doctor Fate's father. Lot of superpowers in them tombs...
      • Jared Stevens - who had a brief stint in the 90s as Fate - was a treasure hunter.
    • This trend may have been due, in part, to the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb in the 1920s. Egyptology was so popular in the 1920s and early 1930s that the Chrysler Building's architecture was modelled after ancient Egyptian designs. This carried over into The Golden Age of Comic Books, when many super-heroes got their start.
  • Mariah from The Warlord is an archaeologist who becomes a sword-swinging heroine upon her transport to the Lost World of Skartaris.
  • Arizona Goof from the Disney comics is a spoof of this trope (or just Indiana Jones).
    • Another Disney comic example would be Scrooge McDuck himself, sometimes.
  • X-Men has Cain Marko, before he found the magic gem that turned him into The Juggernaut.
  • Charles and Marilyn Batson, parents of Billy "Captain Marvel" Batson, before being killed by their associate Theo "Black Adam" Adam.
  • Boom! Studio's Hunter's Fortune is proudly a poor man's Indiana Jones.
  • Armando Catalano, the central character of Le Scorpion, is an adventurer tomb robber as the comic is set in the 18th century and the science of archaeology doesn't exist yet.
  • Savant from Wild CATS is an immortal alien Adventurer Archaeologist.
  • Oklahoma Smith from the Cherry Comics parody "Oklahoma Smith and the Lost Temple of Doomed Raiders".


Film[edit | hide]

  • If Indiana Jones re-popularized it in recent years, given the movies are George Lucas Throwbacks.
    • This is probably why he was denied tenure.
    • Although what we see is only a very small portion of what he actually does and certain supplemental materials make it clear that he does spend a lot of time teaching, as well as identifying and cataloging artifacts for museums as well as the college he works for.
    • Lampshaded heavily in The Last Crusade where Indy is briefly seen lecturing a class that archeology is concerned with facts and research, and he specifically tells the students it is not about finding lost cities, buried treasure or following maps to a big "X". He then promptly ditches the class to go on an action-packed adventure that involves everything he just spent class period dismissing. Also Nazis.
    • What little we see of his students in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull does indicate that they are rather desensitized to his adventuring habit, to the extent that they see him sliding under their table in the library on a motorcycle as an opportunity to ask a question about the homework and not something unusual in the slightest.
  • The O'Connell Family from The Mummy movies and cartoon act like this, even though none of them are officially archeologists (Rick O'Connell is a military defector looking for treasure, and Evy is trained as a librarian rather than an archeologist).
  • Classic early appearance: in the opening scene of the original Boris Karloff version of The Mummy, a graduate student is studying a scroll at a table when the Mummy's bandaged hand reaches past him to touch the parchment. As the Mummy walks away, the man starts laughing hysterically, later saying to his mentor "He went for a little walk!" One of them notes in a later scene: "He was still laughing when when he died two years later." Yep, life is tough on graduate students and archaeologists in general.
  • Charlton Heston appeared as Harry Steele in Secret of the Incas. Costume designers credit this film as being the inspiration for Indy's getup.
  • Benjamin Gates (played by Nicholas Cage) from Disney's National Treasure franchise is a historian and amateur cryptologist who does all that work to be prepared to find the treasure and he only keeps looking for it so as to protect it.
  • Most of the main characters in the original The Adventures of Captain Marvel movie serial from 1941. Interestingly, the main exception to this is Billy Batson himself, who is chosen by the wizard Shazam to become Captain Marvel because he's the only person on the expedition except the native guide Tal Chotali who suggests maybe smashing one's way through tombs and grabbing whatever is in there isn't such a good idea. Later, Batson is entrusted with the scroll which explains how the serial's MacGuffin, the Scorpion, works because he "is probably the only one among us who can't translate it."
  • Leslie Howard's Pimpernel Smith, a 1941 take on The Scarlet Pimpernel, is not only an Adventurer Archaeologist, but a Nazi-fighting Adventurer Archaeologist.
  • Darius Biederbeck, played by Robert Quarry, in Dr Phibes Rises Again.
  • Two Brothers has a something of a subversion of the trope. McRory dynamites apart old temple ruins to sell statues to the highest bidder.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Professor Bernice Summerfield, in the Doctor Who Expanded Universe.
  • Professor Michael Murphy, in the Babylon Rising series.
  • Mortal Engines has two of these: the cowardly Small Name, Big Ego Nimrod Pennyroyal is more of a subversion, while the driven, hard-edged Thaddeus Valentine plays it deadly straight.
  • Amelia Peabody and her husband, Radcliffe Emerson, Victorian Egyptologists in a series of mysteries by Elizabeth Peters. These two go out of their way to subvert several aspects of the trope: they regard their adventures as interruptions, most of the time, and are always itching to get back to The Dig; and they are stridently clear about Egyptian artifacts belonging to the Egyptians, not, for instance, the British Museum, and make frequent derogatory remarks about the treasure-hunting approach of their predecessors and some of their contemporaries.
  • An anthropologist and zoologist rather than an archaeologist, but Professor George Edward Challenger from The Lost World and its sequels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle otherwise fits the bill to a T.
  • In a rare science-fictional example, Lucinda Carlyle from Ken MacLeod's Newton's Wake is a self-described "combat archaeologist." This involves mostly jumping through wormholes and gunning down post-singularity alien robots.
  • Averted with professional archaeologist Jacob Ramsey in Christie Golden's Dark Templar trilogy. Though described as a "maverick" by his peers, he points out that archaeology is not all adventures and being chased by boulders and he doesn't go about trying to manhandle his way into the Xel'Naga "temple".
  • Miss Alice Band, a "stealth archeologist" who also teaches traps and climbing at the Guild of Assassins, in Discworld. Any similarity to Lara Croft is entirely coincidental.
    • Adora Belle Dearheart also qualifies as this in Making Money. She travels about the Disc, looking for a digging up old golems.
  • Hand of Mercy features Helen Hawthorn. Technically Helen is an antiques dealer, but that doesn't stop her rifling through ancient artifacts, not to mention theft and trespass at Isham house.
  • Doc Savage
  • Surprisingly, this trope is Older Than Feudalism: A piece of Egyptian literature from the 1st century CE, Setna-Khaemwase and Na-Nefer-Ka-Ptah tells the story of the titular protagonist, Setna, a prince of Egypt and a powerful wizard, searching necropoleis for the magical Book of Thoth which grants the reader great power. It does not end very well for him.
  • The Takers by Jerry Ahern, though it's actually the Big Bad who's the archaeologist. The protagonists are an action-adventure novelist, and his girlfriend who writes books on UFOs, Atlantis and the occult.
  • In the Courts of the Crimson Kings, a sci-fi novel by S.M. Stirling set on John Carter of Mars-type world made plausible with Biopunk technology. The archaeologist protagonist jokes about the differences between himself and the tomb raiders of the movies. "I don't even have a bullwhip!" His colleague points out that (due to the dangerous Martian environment and culture) he is carrying a gun and a sword.
  • Aemelia Harsh in Stephen Hunt's The Kingdom Beyond the Waves.
  • Dr. Roger Burrows of the Tunnels series thinks about himself this way. In reality, while he is an archaeologist and he does go on a perilous adventure, he is too much of a Cloudcuckoolander to really fit the mold.
  • Dr. Nina Wilde in Andy McDermott's The Hunt For Atlantis and subsequent sequels; she specializes in mythological legends such as Atlantis and Excalibur. Her parents were also archaeologists and were murdered on an expedition to the Himalayas to find evidence of Atlantis.
  • In the Star Trek Deep Space Nine Relaunch, the crew of the Even Odds are often in line with this trope. Technically they're a retrieval squad, but they usually have a genuine archaeologist or two among them. While research is implied to be their primary activity, the resident archaeologists certainly participate in the actual retrievals, which usually involve the sort of excitement you don't find on genuine digs.
  • In the Star Trek: Mirror Universe, the novel Worst of Both Worlds has Jean Luc Picard of the Mirror Universe as a Treasure Hunter while also being a slave for Gul Madred. He eventually runs away and uses the treasures and wonders he's found to destroy the Borg Cube that invades the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance.
  • In the Virals series by Kathy Reichs, Tory Brennan and her fellow virals are this when trying to find a female pirate's treasure.
  • Alex Benedict, the titular antiquities dealer of the Alex Benedict series, is one.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • In the show Relic Hunter, Sydney Fox (played by Tia Carerre).
  • In Stargate SG-1, Daniel Jackson is a "purer" example in flashbacks, but modifies the way he works once he joins the SG team.
  • In a few Star Trek: The Next Generation stories, Captain Picard gets to air out his Adventurer Archaeologist side.
  • Vash in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Love interest of Jean-Luc Picard, partner of Q.
  • The Librarian: Quest for the Spear and The Librarian 2: Return to King Solomon's Mines (both starring Noah Wyle) are knowing and ironic retreads of this territory, or maybe simply bad retreads.
  • In Power Rangers Operation Overdrive, the mentor of the team/father of the Red Ranger is one of these. Consequently, the Rangers themselves spend the bulk of the season generally following in his footsteps. This unique combination of Big Damn Heroes and Adventurer Archaeologist tends to result in a lot of property damage to ancient temples/exotic locales, not just their City of Adventure.
  • Bonekickers
  • Professor George Edward Challenger from Sir Arthur Conan Doyles the Lost World.
  • Charlotte from Lost may fit. She's been identified as an anthropologist rather than an archaeologist, but in her first scene, she was butting in on a dig to unearth a Dharma polar bear in Tunisia and the show runners even addressed the archaeologist/anthropologist/Indiana Jones issue in a podcast. She also appears to be something of an Action Girl.
  • Doctor Who: Professor River Song in Silence in the Library.

The Doctor: I'm a time traveller. I point and laugh at archeologists.

    • He quickly learns not to underestimate her, because when you have a time travelling archeologist, you get awesome. In fact, they're married!

Rory (To Dr. Song): So... What kind of doctor are you?
River: Archeology. {{[[[Offhand Backhand]] Shoots alien behind her}}] Love a tomb.

  • Though an anthropologist rather than an archaeologist, Dr. Temperance Brennan of Bones appears to harbor the occasional delusion of Lara Croft-hood. The series has established that she's an accomplished martial artist, markswoman and survival expert:

Caroline: Fine. Stop me when I get something wrong. Trained in three types of martial arts, two assault charges, registered marksman with the NRA, hunting licenses in four states...
Booth: You hunt?
Brennan: Only for food.
Caroline: Shot an unarmed man...
Brennan: He was trying to light me on fire!

    • The pilot episode hangs a few more lampshades on this, as the first five minutes show her returning from some South American jungle with a carry-on full of skulls, for which she neglected to obtain the proper importation permits, and then executing vigilante justice on Cleo Eller's murderer when it looks like the man will escape prosecution.
      • To be fair, as she said in the above quote, he was trying to light her on fire.
  • In the CSI:NY episode "The Cost of Living", one of these breaks into a disused part of the New York Subway and retrieves an item, in a large-scale homage to Indiana Jones that probably left many viewers wondering what they were watching... Then the team find his corpse:

Stella: Seems James [Sutton] fashioned himself a real Indiana Jones.
Mac: Until someone made this his last crusade.

      • Late in the episode it is revealed that the adventurer archaeologist was a fraud. Having purchased the identity of a legitimate archaeologist, the man proceeded to live the fantasy of an adventurer archaeologist. He ended up being more successful than the person whose identity he was using.
  • On Friends a department store saleswoman flirts with Ross, using the absurd equation "paleontologist+works out=Indiana Jones." Talk about laying it on with a trowel. Ross is pleased, however.
  • Young Indiana Jones has, strangely, an aversion. The show was created to be educational. The DVD sets include educational documentaries about people and events in the show... and the first one has a documentary about what real-life archeology is like.
  • In The Sentinel, Blair Sandburg is an anthropologist but has serious Adventurer Archaeologist moments such as taking out a bad guy with a vending machine and jumping out of an airplane into the South American jungle with Jim to rescue Simon & Daryl Banks. Not bad for a neo-hippie witch doctor punk.
  • Examples of this trope IN SPACE are apparently common in the Verse of Babylon 5, among them Sheridan's wife, who disappeared on an archeological expedition.
  • On 3rd Rock from the Sun, Dick and Mary got invited on an archaeological dig. Dick showed up dressed like Indiana Jones and waving around a bullwhip. It turns out he's Wrong Genre Savvy and the dig is actually realistic.


Satire[edit | hide]


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • The one, the only, Beckett of Clan Gangrel in Vampire: The Masquerade. Hot like Croft and cool like Jones, baby.
    • Mage: The Awakening also has "archeomancers", a faction of the Mysterium (collectors of magical lore) who search old ruins for artefacts.
    • Hunter: The Vigil has two such groups: the Loyalists of Thule, who track down arcane secrets to defend humanity from occult dangers and make up for that whole Hitler thing, and the Aegis Kai Doru, who collect magical artifacts and use them in their fight against threats to humanity.
  • It is also possible to pull off an Adventurer Archaeologist character in the Eberron setting for Dungeons & Dragons. Indeed, the Forge of War book indicates that it's possible to run a war campaign in which one is attempting to locate ancient artifacts to deny them to enemy forces, "like a certain whip-wielding, fedora-wearing archaeologist."
  • 7th Sea has the Explorer's Society, a continent-spanning organization of Adventurer Archaeologists. And their rivals.
  • Feng Shui's Seal of the Wheel supplement has the Two-Fisted Archeologist, which is a direct homage to Indiana Jones, with a unique schtick that allows them to defy death, showing up ten sequences later all banged up and with a crazy story to tell about how they survived. Most of them work for the Ascended, but some of them go independent or join the Dragons. There's also several fan archetypes lurking about the net.
  • One of the character classes in Rifts, Rogue Scholar is this, the picture of the character template even looks like Indy.
  • The Back East supplement for Deadlands included an Archaelogist archetype suitable for use as a player character that was very heavily based on Indiana Jones.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • The "Jones" class in Dungeon of Doom.
  • Lara Croft from the Tomb Raider games and movies.
  • Garrett of Thief is at least honest in that he freely admits to being a looter. He winds up otherwise fulfilling the role anyway, though, as he usually manages to grab at least one MacGuffin without meaning to.
    • Though one treasure in a lost city setting in Thief 2 triggers him to ponder aloud that "Archaeologist sounds much more dignified than Thief".
      • Of course, archeologists normally don't break into museums to reacquire the artifacts they had sold to them.
  • Professor Lemeza from La-Mulana. He has the advantage of being trained by his Ninja grandfather; because "ninja infiltration techniques aid in investigating ancient ruins."
  • Subverted in Mass Effect with Dr. Liara T'Soni. When you first meet her, she's a meek, shy scientist that's fallen foul of one of the death traps in the ruin she's excavating. Once she's off-planet, however, she's able to keep up with three trained marines, a former Special Forces soldier and a thousand-year-old krogan battlemaster. In the second game she's switched career paths and is now an up-and-coming information broker. Her personal DLC sees her killing and replacing the most influential information trader in the galaxy, promoting herself to Illusive Man-level mover and shaker.
    • When asked about how traveling with Shepard's crew compares to her previous work, Liara laments that she'd be happier with more exploration time and fewer explosions.
    • Referenced again in Lair of the Shadow Broker. Liara comments at one point that information trading isn't that different from archaeology, in that you're sifting mountains of refuse for a few valuable scraps - however, dead bodies tend to smell a bit more when they're not thousands of years old. Later in the DLC, a search of her apartment will turn up a framed copy of her doctorate (another character comments that "she really got her money's worth out of that education"), a painting of the ruins on Ilos, and several display-cased Prothean artifacts.
    • One of the uncharted worlds mentions the planet is occupied by a volus billionare who is obsessed with searching the planet's abandoned crypts for "lost beings of light" who hid away weapons to fight a "darkness from beyond the stars." It's implied the volus is insane (although Shepard and his crew would likely disagree), but he has his own army of mercenaries digging up the planet.
    • Shepard can play Adventurer Archaeologist in both games, recovering ancient asari writings, turian clan insignia, Prothean artifacts and data disks from sites spanning the galaxy. You can even keep a Prothean relic in your cabin as an art piece.
  • Lorelei, Zweig, and Killey in the Suikoden series are all Adventurer Archaeologists, with Lorelei even wielding a whip in one game.
  • Ernest from Star Ocean the Second Story was pretty much Indiana Jones with three eyes.
  • The player character in Spelunky, an Indiana Jones lookalike.
  • Brann Bronzebeard and Harrison Jones among others in Warcraft series.
    • The Explorers' League seems to lean towards this somewhat. This is likely a reflection of its recent birth out of renewed Dwarven interest in their origins and thus a lack of well-developed procedures. Their leaning towards more aggressive archaeology is seen in the numerous large pits dug by dwarven archaeologist, often with explosives, and the angry, displaced locals trying to kill them as a result.
      • With Cataclysm the early connotations of archaeology's sordid early years has become even more obvious. The Reliquary and League, Horde and Alliance archaeology initiatives respectively, often find themselves at direct cross-purposes. Their solutions usually involve asking players to murder their opposition, sabotage their opposition, and/or steal finds from their opposition.
    • And as of Cataclysm, the players. Digging up artifacts, it's not uncommon for player Archaeologists to find themselves first needing to fight off the rightful or not-so-rightful owners of the artifacts before making a break for it.
      • Although the tedium and long work involved does show fairly effectively(in MMO terms). It can take a round-continent trip of an hour to complete a single project, which is often something you had found previously.
  • Dr. Edwin Linsey in the sixth chapter of Eternal Darkness.
  • The titular Henry Hatsworth, from Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure.
  • Arguably the eponymous Professor Layton, from Professor Layton. He is indeed an archaeologist, and he does have adventures, but these are more by accident than by design.
  • The Mooks in the Flash game Guardian Rock also qualify, though they have antagonizing roles.
  • Endless Frontier begins with the hero and his Robot Girl sidekick getting permission to explore a crashed spaceship... that they were recovered from when he was a baby.
  • Subverted in Final Fantasy Tactics A2, in the mission to recruit Montblanc. The reason he went to Jylland was treasure hunting. However, after Montblanc learned the treasures were already found by Luso, he says "Please, kupo, let's be realistic here. My life is more than bauble-hunting!"
  • Locke from Final Fantasy VI represents the thief class in the game and has the "steal" command. But call him a treasure hunter or he'll rip your lungs out!!!
  • The Guild of Archeologists in Discworld Noir is a lot like this. It may be notable that their spokesperson is a young woman named "Loreda Cronk".
  • Waffle's uncle in Tail Concerto.
  • Goombella in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is an archeology student, but every bit as adventurous as many examples here.
  • The protagonist of Pharaohs Tomb and sequel Arctic Adventure, one Nevada Smith.
  • In Fable II there is a series of artifact fetch quests you can perform for archaeologist Belle Rennock - likely a reference to Rene Belloq from Raiders of the Lost Ark.
  • Nathan Drake from the Uncharted series. Lampshaded: No one ever calls what he does 'archeology'. They all refer to him as a thief, and they're absolutely right, though he'd probably prefer "treasure hunter". It's just, sometimes treasure is inside museums, or under guard by heavily-armed mercenaries...
  • As of the "World Adventures" expansion pack for The Sims 3, you can be one.
  • In Tutankham, the player character is obviously one of these.
  • Nethack has an Archaeologist class that starts with a whip and fedora.


Webcomics[edit | hide]


Web Original[edit | hide]


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • The fictional version of Jackie Chan from Jackie Chan Adventures.
    • This trope is parodied, however, when he comes to his niece's career day and gives an accurate explanation of what archeology is like in real life. He'd rather do the proper archeology, but rarely has time before the bad guys show up to try to grab the artifact.
  • On Kim Possible, this is the career of Lord Monty Fiske, until he reveals himself as Lord Monkey Fist (in his first appearance).
  • In an episode of Ben 10, Grandpa Max stepped into this role, with Ben and Gwen along for the ride, to keep an ancient superweapon from falling into the hands of the Forever Knights. All three are pretty glad when it's over.
  • Tale Spin features three different Adventurer Archaeologist guest star characters, one of whom is an Indiana Jones parody.
  • Dr. Crockery from the Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers episode "Throw Mummy from the Train".
  • In Batman the Brave And The Bold, Red Tornado, in his secret identity as an archaeology professor, tells his students that archaeology is not about adventuring but rather long hours of boring research. Then he saves Christmas alongside Batman. Of course, the adventure itself had nothing to do with archaeology...
  • One of the Scooby Doo animated movies, "Where's My Mummy," has Velma become one of these, as well as having another one as her friend and yet another one, this one an evil Lara Croft Expy, as a villain.
  • Niko and Audra Miles in Galaxy Rangers, though the latter is technically an anthropologist.
  • I.J. Domiwick from Storm Hawks is a villainous example.


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin spent much of his ambassadorship to the Ottoman Empire during the Greek War of Independence at the Parthenon, recently exploded after the Turks used it as an ammo dump. Elgin collected and removed various friezes and sculptures and sent them back to Britain, where the 'Elgin Marbles' still reside. Whether Elgin was a savior of the priceless sculptures or, as Lord Byron phrased it, "a dishonest and rapacious vandal" is still an open question.
    • The Greeks tend to think the last and still want to get the Marbles back. The Acropolis museum even has holes in which the Marbels should go with something written about how the Marbles are, unfortunately, still in the British museum.
  • T E Lawrence, a.k.a. Lawrence of Arabia, was an archaeologist who was sent to Arabia by the British government specifically because of his academic knowledge of the area. So, being an archaeologist really can lead to exciting adventures!
  • The statement about archeologists out for personal glory and museum loot rather than knowledge is also true for old-time paleontologists. Indiana Jones was based on the adventure paleontologist Roy Chapman Andrews, and the famous "Bone War" between the Americans Marsh and Cope, which resulted in the discovery of many of the dinosaurs that are considered iconic today, also involved shoddy science, theft and outright destruction (dynamiting a quarry at the end of the season to destroy what was left to prevent the other guy from coming in and going through it). Don't forget the brawls and murder, too.
    • The Wacky Wayside Tribe subtrope was also common place since many of the dinosaur sites in the western USA where located in barely charted Injun Country. It was later made Up to Eleven when Roy Chapman Andrews, the guy most often cited as the real inspiration of Indiana Jones, decided to look for fossils in 1920s Mongolia. When Ungern-Sternberg was in charge. When basically the whole of central and east Asia was in a civil war and/or dominated by warlords. Despite the fact no fossil had been found in Mongolia before. And guess what, he was successful, and uncovered one of the world's greatest dinosaur fossil beds, that of the Gobi Desert.[1]
      • There exists a series of cartoon-like illustrations made by Andrews depicting various events during that expedition such as vehicles getting stuck in the mud and sand. Of particular note is one illustration captioned something like "getting ready for bed" and shows an illustration of Andrews laying on a cot in his tent, pointing a pistol at the entrance flap.
    • The continued citation of Andrews as the inspiration for Indiana Jones is controversial. There weren't any direct references to Andrews in the initial plans for the movie, and it's at least as likely that Indiana's character was based off of popular 30s and 40s pulp fiction heroes (though some of them actually were inspired by Andrews).
  • A real danger is finding the lost city of somebody's drug operations in contractual archeology; being an archeologist can get more guns pointed at you then the normal person.
  • Many college professors who focus on the Middle East occasionally get into slightly more perilous situations than the average archaeologist.
  • Heinrich Schliemann may be the ur-example of this; in thieving, digging, and bombing his way to and through the ruins of Troy and Mycenae, Schliemann essentially invented modern archaeology by negation when observers compiled a list of his activities that archaeologists should never repeat.
    • Rule 1: Go easy on the TNT.
    • He ended up destroying the very ruins of Troy he was trying to find - and ended up finding some even older ones under them.
  • Frederick Albert "Mike" Mitchell-Hedges could be considered this later on in his life (having started as a upper-class delinquent who made several nice discoveries).
  • Sylvanus Morley was, by all accounts, an excellent archeologist whose excavations of Mayan ruins in Mexico were highly influential. They also made a good cover for his spying for the American government during World War I.
  • Zahi Hawass, currently one of the most famous archaeologists in Egypt, is well aware of this trope and plays it up. (That brown fedora is not a coincidence.) This has made him very popular with TV crews, incidentally helping popularize Egyptology itself and get it proper funding, but because his methods can be a bit sloppy he's alternately loved and hated by "proper" archaeologists.
  • Giovanni Belzoni led quite the interesting life, working as a circus strongman before he moved on to finding lost temples in the Egyptian desert.
    • Belzoni is another guy cited as a possible inspiration for Indiana Jones, particularly the part about an unscrupulous French[2] rival working for an expansionist empire led by an infamous dictator (in this case, Napoleon). The main difference being said rival was less an archaologist and more of a greedy, unethical businessman as well as the corrupt French consul for Egypt. He's the most deplorable example of "bad archeaology" on this page as he actually would intentionally destroy some of the stuff his men found to drive up the value of what was left over.
  • Pretty much any archeologist who does field work in the really unstable parts of the world fits this trope. Of particular note would be the guys who work in Afghanistan looking for some of the old Buddhist remnants. Standard practice is to hire mercenary guards for any and all excavation efforts, both to avoid getting killed/kidnapped and to protect the items themselves since many religious militants are dead set at destroying any non-Muslim historical artifacts.
  • Another possible inspiration for both Indiana Jones and Arthur Conan Doyle's Professor Challenger was Percy Fawcett whose exploits in South America read like something from fiction - such as fighting giant snakes. He died at the age of fifty-seven while searching for the 'The Lost City of Z'.
  • Cited as yet another possible inspiration for Indiana Jones, Hiram Bingham III is famous for the rediscovery of the lost city of Machu Picchu. He was also an aviator in World War I.
  1. His original plan was to find remains of prehistoric men not dinosaurs, but, well...
  2. Well, an Italian in French employ