7 Things That Scare Archaeologists

Mummies, mole people, and cursed mysterious artifacts. Yes, archaeology has its fair share of Hollywood created horrors. For the most part, they’re quite entertaining, but if you want to know what really scares archaeologists, keep reading.

1. Missing Labels

You start off really excited because something amazing has landed on your desk. You can’t wait to find out where it’s from. As your opening the bag, you’re thinking, “This find could change everything!” Then you realize something is very wrong. You frantically check everywhere, I mean EVERYWHERE, and nothing. The label is missing. The horror!

2. Lost Trowel

You set it down for just a few moments. Then something distracts you. Someone needs help with a measurement or you really need to go the bathroom. When you come back, it’s gone. You search and search and it’s still nowhere to be found. Who would do such a thing? Or what…


3. The Deadline is Today

You made sure to double and triple check. It wasn’t supposed to happen this soon. You swear it must be a dream. You open your calendar and the shock takes over you. They’re here.

4. Trapped

It can happen in so many ways. Perhaps, they said they just needed to borrow your ladder for a second. It doesn’t matter that you’re five meters deep and your trench is off the main excavation. But it’s been and hour and no one has come back. Or you realize your gas light is flashing and you’re not even on a real road. You don’t remember the last time you saw a gas station. Either way you’re trapped.


5. All the Food is Gone

You’re starving. The day was brutal and you barely could get a bite in. There was no time for breakfast and you had to drive someone to who knows where during lunch. You are briskly walking because dinner is about to start and then it happens. Someone stops you and desperately needs your help. You’re the only one who can fix the problem. You hurry to help them and it feels like hours are going by. When you finally finish, you race to dinner and see the unthinkable. No one is there and there is no food in sight.


6. A Strong Gust of Wind

You have everything laid out like you like it. It’s finally all organized. You even have some makeshift paperweights. Everything is going according to plan, when all of a sudden a strong gust of wind comes in and everything is flying everywhere. You try to grab what you can, but almost everything is out of your reach. And then just like that, everything settles and it looks like nothing happened, except that your stuff is everywhere.


7. Deleted all the Photos

It’s been an amazing day. You’ve made great progress. You keep uncovering feature after feature. You get through photographing a record number of artifacts. Then you see that there is a crappy photo. It brings down your high. You know it shouldn’t, but it’s eating at you. So you do it. You go to delete that one photo, but then something goes terribly wrong. In an instant, they’re all gone. All of them.



*Special thanks to Brooke Norton for brainstorming with me 🙂



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Smiti Nathan

I’m an archaeologist that travels around the world for both work and pleasure. I have a penchant for exploring ancient and modern places and the people, plants, and foods entangled in them. I write about archaeology, travel, and productivity.



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