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Anthropology Memes: The Funny Side of Archaeology

Egyptian meme with Bernie Sanders
Like Archaeology? Like memes? I know I do! So, I’m going to do something a little different in the next few blog posts–I’d like to share some great Anthropology-related memes and cartoons. Each post will focus on one of the 4 fields of Anthropology, and today’s focus will be Archaeology. For each meme/cartoon, I’ll be explaining things for anyone who doesn’t have an Anthropology or Archaeology background. Also, I’ll share a link with some more information in case you are interested in learning more.

#1:

Let’s start off with this meme, which is about Anthropology in general.
People's reaction when I tell them I'm an Anthropology major. What the f- is Anthropology?

Why is this funny?

This meme is funny because no one seems to actually know what Anthropology is, besides Anthropology students and Anthropologists. For example, many people think that Anthropology is digging up dinosaurs, but nope, that’s Paleontology. Many anthropology majors are asked what anthropology is, or what in the world they are going to do with their degree.

Learn More

Want to learn what exactly Anthropology is? Check out this link.  Want to learn about the 4 fields of Anthropology? Click here.

#2:

Now let’s check out this meme, which is about Archaeology specifically.
Archaeology memes. If you are an Archaeologist, does that mean your life is in ruins?

Why is this funny?

Archaeology is the study of what humans left behind, through excavation (digging things up). Archaeology studies everything from prehistoric stone tools to pyramids to underwater shipwrecks. And, archaeologists study ruins, so their life is “in ruins.”

Learn More

Want to learn more about Archaeology? Check out this link.

#3:

The next Archaeology meme is about Indiana Jones, from the movie series. (Never heard of Indiana Jones? Click here.)
Archaeology memes. World's best archaeologist (Indiana Jones). Never does archaeology.

Why is this funny?

In the films, Indiana Jones is supposed to be an archaeologist. So, anyone who has watched the films thinks that the movies show what archaeology is like. But, Indiana Jones did things that no professional archaeologist would do. For example, he looted a temple and stole a golden statue. He also destroyed an entire archaeological site. There are many more examples, but Indiana Jones is the world’s most famous archaeologist, but he never really does real archaeology.

Learn More

Check out this link for a list of the ways that Indiana Jones was a bad archaeologist. And click here to read about the ethical code that all professional archaeologists in the United States must follow, so that they don’t become bad archaeologists like Indiana Jones.

#4:

Now let’s look at this image, showing the layers of a woman’s purse.
Woman's purse with layers of items

Why is this funny?

It’s an American stereotype that women have everything in their purses, and you can dig through the layers to find interesting things. So, this parallels the idea of digging through layers of dirt in Archaeology to find artifacts.

Learn More

In archaeology, layers of dirt are called strata. Archaeologists can use the stratigraphic profile (sequence of dirt layers) to date artifacts in an archaeological site. See this link to learn more about stratigraphy, from the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center.

#5:

The next one is about “Keester Island.”
April 5th, 1722. Explorers discover "Keester Island."

Why is this funny?

This cartoon is making fun of a famous archaeological site called “Easter Island.” This site is made up of statues with the top half of the body showing above the ground. So, this cartoon is showing “Keester Island,” which rhymes with “Easter Island” and consists of statues of the bottom half of the body. (For anyone who doesn’t know American slang, the word “keester” means “buttocks.”)

Learn More

Want to see pics and learn more about Easter Island? Check out this link from Smithsonian Magazine.

#6:

Now here’s a cartoon about a calendar ending in 2012.
I only had enough room to go up to 2012. Ha! That'll freak somebody out someday.

Why is this funny?

This cartoon is referencing the Mayan calendar, which was thought to predict the end of the world on December 21, 2012. In reality, that day was the day a Mayan calendar cycle was completed. And, there is no evidence that the Mayan people believed the world would end on that day.

Learn More

Want to learn more about the Mayan calendar and the significance of 2012? Check out this page of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian website.

#7:

Here’s a meme about cave paintings.
Archaeology memes. What if prehistoric humans never lived in caves and all those cave paintings are just bathroom graffiti?

Why is this funny?

Ancient people are often referred to as “cavemen,” implying that they lived in caves. But, in general,  ancient people did not live in caves, although some did live in rock shelters. Anyway, this meme is referring to the rock art that ancient people made in caves, and comparing them to bathroom graffiti.

Learn More

Want to learn about the oldest cave paintings in the world? Check out this article by Smithsonian Magazine. For an amazing virtual tour of the famous Lascaux cave paintings, visit this link.

#8:

And here is a cartoon about rock art.
If we don't go back and paint this on a wall, no one's ever gonna believe it.

Why is this funny?

This cartoon is also about ancient rock art. Some rock art is made in a simple style similar to that of the hunter and game animal in the cartoon. The joke is that the rock art shows how things really looked in the past. But not all rock art is simple or made of geometric shapes—some rock art is much more complex!

Learn More

Want to see pics of rock art found in the Amazon rainforest? Check out this article by the BBC.

Did you like these Archaeology Memes?

I hope you enjoyed viewing these memes and cartoons about Archaeology! Which one was your favorite?
Thanks for reading!