Finding Treasure and Losing History is a review of a new show on the Discovery Channel. The review is in Archaeology and has some interesting things to say about the Discovery Channel and the ethics of making a TV show. Here is the first paragraph:
For more than a year, the marine salvage company Odyssey Marine Exploration has been embroiled in a legal battle with the government of Spain over the rights to a site they call “Black Swan,” which might hold the most valuable sunken treasure ever recovered. At the same time, underwater archaeologists working with the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization have succeeded in creating a treaty that bans treasure hunting in the territorial waters of signatory nations (see “A Victory in the War of Wrecks.”) But you won’t hear much about any of that in Treasure Quest a new series on Discovery Channel (Thursdays at 10pm) that takes a completely uncritical look at Odyssey’s business of finding, removing, and selling archaeological artifacts from the ocean floor. As the UNESCO treaty takes effect and legal pressures mount against Odyssey, the Discovery Channel is cashing in on the business of systematically looting shipwrecks.
I haven’t seen the show in question but I find the premise appalling and I am beginning to be very pessimistic about the state of educational TV. There are enough interesting stories out there and plenty of interesting ways to tell them without resorting to reality TV methods and looting archaeological sites. At any rate, follow the link above and read the entire review.