They poke about in places where no one has trod for thousands of years, sticking their noses in where they are least welcome. Often they cause more problems than they solve — but it’s all in a day’s work when you’re delving into the distant past of things that don’t exist!
Here are Nerdvana’s picks for the top 10 archaeologists in sci-fi:
10. Indiana Jones (duh!)
Henry Jones Jr., played by Harrison Ford, deserves honorable mention for inspiring a generation to at least consider going into antiquities, and for saving the world from occult Nazis, Russians and crystal-skulled aliens. Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Tempe of Doom and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade skirted science fiction (Biblical superweapons, magical stones and immortality are debatably fantastic, I suppose), but the 2008 sequel Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull brought the saga firmly into the genre.
9. Henry Jones Sr. (Indiana Jones)
“You call this archaeology?!?” Indy’s dad, portrayed by Sean Connery, was his greatest influence and he sketched a mean Grail Diary. And he’s got a brass pair, sitting in a motorcycle sidecar and demanding that his son drive him into a Hitler rally in the heart of Berlin to retrieve the diary when it is stolen — so there’s something of the ’60s superspy about him … His unwavering faith in the story of the Holy Grail is what inspires his son to solve three deadly puzzles to find the mythical artifact and save his life when he is mortally wounded by a Nazi stooge.
8. Jean-Luc Picard (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
Although he eschewed a career in archaeology for exploration in Starfleet, the captain of the Enterprise (played by Patrick Stewart) never lost his fascination with lost civilizations, discovering the Iconian Gateways in the Neutral Zone (“Contagion”) and even the origin of humanoid life (“The Chase”). Not bad for a Frenchman. Exploration is in his blood, as his ancestores were some of the first space explorers. He just prefers to do it from the comfort of his ready room with advanced sensor sweeps, but that doesn’t mean he won’t get his uniform dirty. (See #7.)
7. Vash (Star Trek: TNG and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
Speaking of Picard’s fascinations, one of them is the beautiful and less-than-honest freelance archaeologist Vash (Jennifer Hetrick), whom he meets on a rare vacation to the pleasure planet Risa that ends in an impromptu archaeological dig for an artifact that is actually from the future (“Captain’s Holiday”). She turns up again to sweep the captain of the Enterprise off his feet during an encounter with the omnipotent trickster Q, who sweeps them all away to Sherwood Forest and makes their romance play out against the backdrop of the Robin Hood story (“Q-Pid”). Vash ends up traveling with Q for a time because he can take her places Picard never can — but the wily superbeing abandons her deep in the distant Gamma Quadrant until she is rescued by the crew of starbase Deep Space Nine, where she continues her wicked ways and tries to auction off archaeological wonders that turn out to be more trouble than they’re worth (“Q-Less”).
6. Alex O’Connell (The Mummy Returns/The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor)
The son of mummy-busting adventurers Alex and Evey O’Connell, little Alex was destined for great things. First portrayed as a child by Freddie Boath in 2001’s The Mummy Returns and later by Luke Ford in 2008’s The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, he grows up surrounded by the wonders (and horrors) of the ancient world.