The Value of New Age Archaeology to Archaeology’s Mainstream
What possible value can be added to mainstream archaeology by fringe theories regarding Atlantis, UFOs, or global conspiracies? This question is inextricably tied to broader concerns about free speech and the risks associated with it. In America, the 1st Amendment protects the rights of citizens to express themselves and their opinions with very few restrictions. Only in cases where someone’s actions threaten or endanger others will their speech be punished. In the realm of science the issue of free speech is often further scrutinized due to the image of rationality and objectivity cultivated by its members. Science is trapped between its tenets of being free of dogmatic viewpoints and its role as the world authority on proven truths.
New Age archaeology has no clear definition, which is fitting for a field with no clear goals or purpose. Generally speaking New Age archaeology has been the name given to any work done where the motive for digging or exploring is based on myth or legend. This is often based off of religious literature or ambiguous artifacts. Wherever the starting point, people go out and conduct amateur archaeology looking for proof to back up their claims. This is similar to scientific methods, but the intellectual rigor of proof is noticeably lower in this fringe field of exploration.
The true measure of its value to mainstream archaeology lies not in the content of its claims but in whether or not those claims can be proven and verified by colleagues. Is claiming that advanced civilizations existed in the past who were more advanced than modern day society any different than prior claims that enormous lizard-like monsters ruled the earth millions of years ago? The claims might both seem equally ridiculous to someone who has no evidence either way. However, countless artifacts have been found proving the existence of dinosaurs, while no solid evidence has ever been found that proves the existence of Atlantis.
Although New Age archaeology has not had much success gaining the respect of mainstream archaeology, this should inspire them to work even harder to find solid proof for their claims. Scientific pursuits cannot be guided nor predicted, and breakthroughs that revolutionize the way we think about the world have come from the strangest sources. So let New Age archaeology chase after extraterrestrial artifacts, Bigfoot colonies, and the Fountain of Youth. It doesn’t stop more mainstream scientists from doing their own work. And if one day someone finds proof that aliens built tunnels under the ocean floors that connect every world capital, then I for one would be fascinated to read all about it.