Monday, July 16, 2007

Comments on "Secrets of Egypt's Lost Queen " Discovery Channel

Generally speaking, I am usually not impressed by archeology shows on TV. Usually they are overly dramatic and not really all that informative; you can usually find out all the information contained in a 1-hour program by reading Wikipedia for about 5 minutes. The Secrets of Egypt's Lost Queen, a Discovery Channel production did not stray from this formula. During the program I did a simple search on "Hatshepsut" a found all the information contained in the program and much much more (not that I am a big fan of Wikipedia, which has its own problems). However, I think I have been a little hard on the Discovery Channel, and I am prepared to rethink my position. What caused this change of heart? I watched the program with my 8-year-old daughter.

When I watch educational programming with my kids, I want the material to be sophisticated but understandable. A good program will have something to offer on different levels to different audiences. My daughter really enjoyed the program, and I saw, for the first time, how valuable these programs can be to a more youthful audience. The program does dramatize the findings (Zawi Hawass shows his usual enthusiasm), but in a way that really draws in the young viewer. And, the program does a pretty good job of explaining that logic alone can not solve an archaeological problem (that is, even a very logical explanation can be wrong), and that archaeological problems have to be approached from many angles to be resolved.

I am now trying to watch more archaeological programming; not from the standpoint of a University professor, but from the standpoint of a consumer.