DU archaeologist popular after debut of History Channel documentary

Just hours after Indiana Jones and the Ultimate Quest debuted on the History Channel May 18,Lawrence Conyers’ e-mail inbox experienced an influx. The DU associate professor of archaeology was featured in the two-hour documentary produced by Prometheus Entertainment.

“Our rating for the premiere on May 18 was a 1.2 rating, which roughly translates into 1.2 million viewers…a good rating for The History Channel,” says Timothy Crehan, producer for Prometheus Entertainment.

The show’s premise was to show how the Indiana Jones movies made the profession of archaeology look appealing and adventurous and how the action shown in the movies might happen in real-life.

Even though Conyers believes there are more differences between the movies and real-life, he thinks the producers of the documentary did a fairly good job of interviewing reputable archaeologists.

“It showed that there are ethical archaeologists in the world who care about the past and understand the value of our shared human history,” Conyers says.

The producers also focused on new technologies in the archaeology field that were developed since Jones’ time, including Conyers’ research in ground-penetrating radar (GPR).

In the show, Conyers recapped how he had found a previously unknown Roman temple in the middle of an open field in the ancient site of Petra, Jordan.

“It was amazing to see the temple appear on our computer screens,” he told producers. “No one had a clue it was preserved underground.”

Since the show’s debut, Conyers says he has received about 20 e-mails from people inquiring about GPR. He responds to them all, but has no plans to help people find the crystal skulls or whatever artifact they think is buried in their backyard.

One of the e-mails was from a Chicago high school student who will be attending DU in the fall. He wants to take classes from Conyers to learn how to do GPR.

“Archaeology professors will still have to dispel myths about the movies, but I’m glad it inspired someone to call,” he says. “You never know, taking the first step can always open doors to other things.”

Indiana Jones and the Ultimate Quest will air again on the History Channel Saturday, May 31 at 2 p.m. MST. Check listings for other air times.


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