Spike TV & National Geographic: Glorifying Looting

And now for some news on the archaeology and stupid-TV-show-ideas front.  Total #NationalGeographicFAIL and #SpikeTVFail at the same time.  A double whammy of bad ideas.  Several of my archaeology colleagues at the University of Kentucky have been talking about the recent news that Spike TV and National Geographic are planning two new shows that basically glorify outright looting.  Grad students are passing around the link to this online petition: “Stop Spike TV from looting our collective past!”  Archaeologists (and plenty of others) are rightly up in arms about this.  Michael E. Smith over at Publishing Archaeology has a new post that discusses some of the details:

SAA and other groups, such as SHA, have already prepared and sent strong letters condemning both of these programs to the production companies, networks, and others. Copies of the SAA letters can be found on the SAA website (http://bit.ly/w2MHJM, and http://bit.ly/wzT7IA). The letters provide details on why we are so concerned. Up to this point Spike TV has not responded to the public outcry. Leadership of National Geographic, however, has indicated that, while they are unable to stop the showing tomorrow on such short notice, they will place a disclaimer into the show that speaks to laws protecting archaeological and historic sites.

Read the rest of the post.  While I’m not really surprised that Spike TV is doing something like this, the fact that the folks at Nat Geo even considered this is ridiculous.  If you have updates about this, please share in the comments section.  Thanks to the U of Kentucky grad students, Michael, and everyone else for working to get the word out about this issue.  Definitely no time to be passive when it comes to archaeological, historical, and cultural heritage.


Ryan Anderson is a cultural and environmental anthropologist. His current research focuses on coastal conservation, sustainability, and development in the Californias. He also writes about politics, economics, and media. You can reach him at ryan AT savageminds dot org or @anthropologia on twitter.

5 thoughts on “Spike TV & National Geographic: Glorifying Looting

  1. SHA and SAA have both made public statements opposing it. I just asked Rosemary Joyce (head of the Archaeology Division of the AAA) about the AAA on twitter this afternoon, and she said something should be coming from them as well. Not sure if AIA has made any statement yet.

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