No professional position, aside from perhaps police officer and horny pizza delivery boy, is more frequently misrepresented in film than archaeologist. In movies, archaeologists are all dashing figures, risking life and limb in the pursuit of knowledge while arcane artifacts and ancient traps besiege their efforts. Or else they're perpetually opening sealed, cursed tombs and stumbling into the haunted caves of unspeakable evils in the name of science. But in reality, we all know archaeology is nothing like that. Obviously.
It's way more terrifying.
7The Screaming Mummies
In 1886, Gaston Maspero, the head of the Egyptian Antiquities Service, was doing like he do -- just taking mummies out of their sarcophagi, unwrapping them, dictating all kinds of boring notes -- when he came across an unusually plain burial box. Unlike the kings and queens he'd been working with for most of his career, this particular box didn't give any information as to the identity of the stiff inside. Even stranger, the body was wrapped in sheepskin, which was considered unclean by ancient Egyptians. When he finally uncovered it, Gaston also found that the corpse's hands and feet had been bound for some unspeakable reason. And then, as he slowly panned his gaze upward -- presumably while violins screeched out a dramatic, building score -- he found this screaming, undead face looking back at him:
Because of the strange coverings, the bound hands and the seemingly tortured expression, experts theorized that the body (creatively named Unknown Man E) had been poisoned, buried alive or otherwise tortured before his untimely death. Now that we've done extensive studies on mummification and seen quite a few more intact examples, however, we understand how silly that theory was. Not because the "screaming mummy" was just a fluke, but because they're all screaming all the time.
Or having the most horrific orgasms known to man.
If the jaw isn't strapped shut when a body is mummified, it naturally falls open during the process of decay, leaving a permanent "scream." Most modern burial practices account for this -- the ghost of Jacob Marley, Scrooge's business partner in A Christmas Carol, is always shown with that weird headband/chinstrap for precisely this reason. But not all cultures take closing the jaw into account, or sometimes the knots tying the mouth shut just slip. That's why, since Unknown Man E, there have been several more "screaming" mummies found in various digs all around the world.
Yep. Apparently the screaming torment of the undead just ain't a thing.
But really, when you think about it, the rational explanation for the screaming mummies doesn't actually make the finds less impressive. If anything, we have more respect than ever for archaeologists, who we now realize are constantly stumbling into strange, sealed tombs to find stuff like this thing staring at them from the shadows:
"Not without my makeup!"
And when they come face to face with the scariest props from Raiders of the Lost Ark, said archaeologists not only inexplicably refrain from exploding in a big salty ball of fear urine, but calmly stride over, grab the damn thing by the neck and drag the bastard out into the sun for science to take a good, long gander at.
And that's why we propose a new field of study that devotes all of its research hours just to figuring out how to measure balls that size.
6The Mass Grave of the Headless Vikings
Archaeologists were digging up the side of a boring old roadway in Dorset when suddenly, instead of "more cobblestones" and "maybe part of a plow," they unearthed something a bit more exciting: a mass grave containing the headless remains of 54 Viking mercenaries. Instead of rightfully interpreting the pit as some kind of ancient "Caution: Predator Hunting Grounds" warning sign and getting the hell out of there, the archaeologists set about carefully recording the positions of the bones. As they did so, the researchers began to notice something unusual about the placement. Namely, that the leg and arm bones, heads and torsos were all neatly arranged into their own separate piles.
So what happened?
Our leading theory is that the Vikings found a Hellraiser-style puzzle box and accidentally unleashed a horde of Middle Ages cenobites.
You're welcome, Hollywood.
The archaeologists' (substantially less plausible) initial theory was that, after being captured by the occupants of a local village that somehow survived the Viking attack, the assailants themselves were murdered, with their corpses then being stripped naked and dismembered by the villagers, who also took a few heads with them as, like, fun-time souvenirs or something.
We're trying not to pass judgment here.
But that doesn't explain why the unfortunate Vikings were beheaded by strange, precise sword blows delivered from the front, instead of the usual hack-jobs to the back of the neck that accompany normal beheadings. In fact, the archaeologists themselves later revised their theory, admitting that the Vikings were probably not torn apart by a brutally violent mob bent on revenge, but may have been sacrificed in a highly controlled and ritualistic manner not consistent with the surrounding culture of the time. As seems to be the case in this nightmare-inducing photo:
So yeah, in short: Viking Hellraiser.
Archaeology: ... probably like a hundred million (but not this one, bitches).