Fig. 4. 1: The strain on the romance between archaeology
and the media is beginning to tell- meanwhile Tony Robinson
and Mick Aston share a tender moment (Anon. 2005).
Time Team presenter Tony Robinson once said that you could always distinguish an archaeologist by their poor dress and terrible haircuts, and Mick Aston, while sporting one of his infamous hand-knitted sweaters no doubt, admitted that “we’re complete scruffbags” (Holtorf 2007, 77) [Fig. 4.1].
However, during the period which film historian Karol Kulik termed the ‘golden age of archaeology in the British mass media’ (Holtorf 2007, 75), just how much freedom did archaeologists have then and how much do they have now in the application of their own particular fashion in shows in which they participate? The sometimes eccentric fashion sense of archaeologists in the media has prompted some to ask if archaeology is a job for professionals or a lifestyle for dedicated individuals (Holtorf 2007, 70, 73). Indeed so tied in with class consciousness is this thorny and somewhat distracting bi-polar question as articulated by a few commentators who insist that only neat packaging in “middle class outfits” can express the “credibility of a respectable profession” that nobody asks why it cannot be both (Holtorf 2007, 71).
Some observers postulate that there is a drift toward expressions of individuality exemplified by those who, for example, while studying the lives of colourful Vikings wearing Thor hammers around their necks who experienced adventures, made discoveries and withstood many challenges are emulating their heroes by engaging in adventurous fieldwork, making discoveries, overcoming challenges in their projects and of course wearing Thor hammers around their necks (Holtorf 2005b, 97-98; 2007, 78; Petersson 1994, 61, 70-71).
Less subtle and indeed more oppressive attitudes toward the various expressions of individuality are aired on the internet, once lauded as a platform to express all points of view:
“…they [the media] see many archaeologists dressing and behaving like a bunch of *****.... I have been rather embarrassed at times by the way my colleagues have been dressed like a bunch of ******* ******** in the presence of the people who pay their wages.”, and “They’ll take us all a lot more seriously if you stop looking like drug-addled, ********* ******.”
(Holtorf 2007, 72).
This patrician attitude is also expressed in literature, possibly by those who feel that the opportunity to express themselves through fashion beyond sporting a moth-eaten undersized pattern-obscured tweed jacket has alas passed them by: “[J]ust because I don’t choose to dress as a medieval peasant doesn’t mean I can’t understand the archaeology of a medieval site”. For some, however, all-weather gear, combat clothes or half-dressed individuals occasionally sporting ancient design tattoos are the embodiment of the exotic… at least in the U.K. (Holtorf 2007, 78; Petersson 1994, 39).
Leaving aside tattoos, body piercings and the drive for individuality, some archaeologists suggest a correlation between the perceived unkempt appearance, penchant for combats and other shabby clothing and the percentage of their meagre remuneration spent on matters other than basic sustenance, which is just sufficient to prevent one running afoul of the Public Order Act of 1986, especially in relation to acts of nudity, the enforced frugality being most probably due in part to the need for non-affluent fledgling members of the archaeology profession to acquire essential experience through the abundance of solely volunteer positions. “Pay me the 40,000 a year the developers are on then come back and talk to me about dressing like them.” (Holtorf 2007, 72). There is also a persistent class-struggle undertone to many of the observations from those in the non-suit wearing camp emphasising the ‘salt of the earth’ hard-working nature of their “shabby comrades” while castigating some of the “clean shaven” neat and tidy specimens as “useless wastes of space” (Holtorf 2007, 72).
Others who contribute to the popular BAJR forum and who may or may not fit into that category are in so much of a rush to climb the ladder of success that in achieving their twin goals of dispelling the scruffy image of archaeologists and acquiring obscenely ostentatious status symbols which befit their new found rank they neglect to nurture even the most basic of communication skills:
“On many occassions people have said to me things like: 'My god your not wearing sandals'. 'You haven't got a beard'. 'Your the only archaeologist I have met who looks comfortable in a suit'. With my first fee cheque as a consultant gues what I bought - a Jaeger suit.”
(Holtorf 2005b, 72)
In the ostensibly stricter world of archaeology in the media a similar class-related clothing battle rages where archaeologists, more often than not from privileged backgrounds, opt for what they consider to be the ‘scruffy’ look, or the designer scruffy look as it appears, most of the time not because of the limitations of their budgets but due to the desires to stand out among many and cultivate the socially accommodating image of “I am one of you” especially important if your livelihood depends ironically on the patronage of people that one would consider of a lower social standing, which in the case of the archaeologist includes everyone (Holtorf 2007, 73).
Some archaeologists take an overly simplistic view of their non-suit-wearing comrades who they feel wear ex-army clothes as a lifestyle choice, believing that they are “not prepared to give-up their beloved army wear with many ‘practical’ large pockets”, in much the same way Hollywood flippantly deals with the topic of vagrancy (Holtorf 2007, 71; Russell 2002, 50). The timeless view of the ‘scruffy look’ is noted by one media archaeologist who states that “a 1970s field archaeologist could readily slip unnoticed into a twenty first-century team.” (Holtorf 2007, 78; Pryor 2001, 28). The disingenuous and obsequious subservience to the sartorial excellence of political decision makers and more importantly to those that hold the purse strings by John Walker, chief executive of York Archaeological Trust, among others, shows the value of image in the media and the lengths that some will go to secure finance. “When meeting politicians, for example, it is not necessarily the best strategy to wear suit and tie in order to state that ‘I am one of you’, since they are far better at dressing in this style anyway.” (Holtorf 2007, 73).
Broadly speaking the media portrayal of archaeologists has created two distinct camps, the suit and tie manager wear versus scruffy but practical field wear (Holtorf 2007, 73). From Schlampiges Räuberzivil or scruffy old stuff- described by some as a desperate attempt to be different from the rest of society and as “comfortable” and “in line with public expectations” by others- to Uniformierte Krawattenheinis or tie wearing idiots in uniform who, according to Holtorf, justify the wearing of middle class outfits to aid their success in “tough financial negotiations” (Holtorf 2007, 71), which one feels is a little contrived and unnecessary in countering the criticisms of scruff-wearing rabble, sounding somewhat reminiscent of class traitor guilt. Looking at the macro view, it is possible that the media archaeologist has divided into two distinct sub-species, one who believes that rustic woolly wear is something of a badge of honour and the other who constantly has to make excuses for not wearing rustic woolly wear (Holtorf 2007, 73). It is an undeniable fact that most archaeologists are depicted on TV series wearing clothes ranging from the non-trendy to the downright deliberately unfashionable (Holtorf 2007, 77).
Holtorf in a rare off-moment sums up, in this humble author’s opinion, the spirit of this issue by actually saying very little while saying quite a lot. “If we really live in an emerging Experience Economy, as has been argued, the integrity of the customer experience depends in parts on role-appropriate clothing.” (Holtorf 2007, 70; Pine and Gilmore 199, 55-56). The mass media have taken the myriad of available archaeological styles, first homogenised them and then sanitised them to supply ‘readily identifiable’ models of archaeologists to be utilised, or not, by archaeologists themselves in the messages that they wish to convey (Holtorf 2007, 88). The three main styles that the mass media flirt with are “colonial and adventure wear”, “scholar wear” and “safety wear”, with infrequent composites of all three (Holtorf 2005b, 96-99; 2007, 79; Russell 2002, 49-50).
If one wished to conjure an instantly recognisable archaeologist, for example, colonial adventure wear is the look one would choose, likewise if one wishes to promote colonial-type fashion a photographer would choose a shoot on an actual excavation (Holtorf 2005b, 96).
with thanks to exhaustive research
undertaken by Cornelius Holtorf
(Anon. nd. c).
As a testament to the democratic recognisability of this image photographers engaged in the low-brow world of internet soft-porn shoots frequently rely on this fashion-orientated contrivance to ameliorate the sex content of various sites for their more ‘discerning’ custom, such as “Kyla, the intern archaeologist: archaeology has never been so hot” (Holtorf 2007, 82) [Fig. 4.2]. With such fictional exponents as Indiana Jones and Lara Croft, colonial and adventure wear, the long-held cliché for photography and other areas of the media alike, has, applied in varying degrees, proved irresistible even to real archaeologists working in the media (Holtorf 2005a, 41; 2005b, 96; 2007, 82; Russell 2002, 49-50).
While Francis Pryor subtly clings to the dignified beige shirt (and vice versa), appearing every bit like the gentleman colonial explorer in both Britain BC and Britain AD, Phil Harding is seen by some as the rough and ready ‘cowboy’ of archaeology. “With his long hair, leather jacket, jeatform to express all points of ccent” Harding appears to represent, for those repressed by the anal nature of academic life, the anti-establishment side of the profession, and therefore on occasion is unreasonably seen as the James Dean of archaeology, a rebel without a trowel as it were (Pryor 2003; 2004; Holtorf 2005b, 99; 2007, 84) [Fig. 4.3]. Among such interchangeable elements of colonial and adventure wear as solid boots, khaki-coloured ‘practical’ multi-pocketed shirts, trousers and waistcoats, the ubiquitous masculine sun protection- the hat- in its various forms has enjoyed cult status among many an archaeologist in the media, worn both out of reverence and ridicule since its renaissance in the 1980s (Holtorf 2005b, 96; 2007, 80).
incarnation, known as ‘ROTLA 1’
(Raiders of the Lost Ark 1981).
Without a doubt the most popular headwear of the adventurer archaeologist is the famous Indiana Jones fedora, referred to by Holtorf as the “Holy Grail of Indy hats”, a delicious and conspicuous pun (a common practice amongst media archaeologists) on the third movie in the series. In the wake of the Indiana trilogy these fedoras have once again become available commercially (Holtorf 2007, 77). Herbert Johnson, Hatters to the U.K. Royal family, famously made three distinct types of fedora used in Raiders of the Lost Ark and subsequent types for the other two “Indy” films; these hats are frequently sold out due to their popularity with fans and archaeologists alike (Holtorf 2007, 79) [Fig. 4.4].
In a broader context American historical archaeologist Adrian Praetzellis once depicted the history of archaeology through changing styles of headgear (Holtorf 2007, 86) [Fig. 4.5].
“Scholar wear”, symbolised by a tailored jacket, waistcoat, tie or bow-tie and quite often round-rim spectacles or any combination of these, although still quite popular in movie and TV series representations has at last fallen out of favour with the new generation of TV archaeologist (Holtorf 2005b, 96; 2007, 84). In the early years of British television Glyn Daniel and Sir Mortimer Wheeler were the supreme exponents of this particular style and perhaps because of this may even have influenced the representation of archaeologists on the big screen later (Holtorf 2007, 84) [Fig. 4.6].
of its accessories, while his son dons “adventure wear”
(Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade 1989).
This not so subtle fashion of which Tom Stern and Thomas Tode remarked that “title and institution are blended in just above the waist” suited the visual media, renowned for preferring almost theatrically clichéd characters, so well that this style gained a timeless quality (Holtorf 2005b, 96; 2007, 84; Stern and Tode 2002, 72). Indiana Jones exhibits both adventure wear and scholar wear in his adventures, joined later by his father (Sean Connery) (Raiders of the Lost Ark 1981; Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade 1989) [Fig. 4.7].
professional environment”. Photo: David Webb
In recent years television interviews and one-off documentaries have highlighted the use of “safety wear”, which is composed of a reflective vest and/or helmet augmented by field or manager style clothes (Holtorf 2005b, 98; 2007, 79). This style, implying the “competent professional working in a professional environment”, may well be the heir or replacement for scholar wear [Fig. 4.8],
for not only does one have the perfect excuse to wear it, it being in most cases mandatory, it also fulfils the same task of visually elevating the wearer above the surrounding plebs in his/her new role as the “Heritage Police”, being part of the establishment as a ‘force’ instead of seeking individuality as the eccentric professor or sexy adventurer (Holtorf 2007, 79) [Fig. 4.9].
Interestingly, this totalitarian image, realistic and professional though it may be, has not found an echo in movie representations as yet, possibly because earlier more likable images are hard to relinquish, or perhaps because the movie-going public persist in clinging on to their misguided beliefs that imagination and fun are not dead (Holtorf 2007, 80). Through safety wear the archaeologist may indeed have found, if not a new song, then a different song to sing which unfortunately is shrill, hollow and tuneless.