I, like the rest of you, was baffled when I heard that Belize's Institute of Archaeology was suing Disney and Lucasfilm for a cut of the profits from the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (link to Daily Mail story because that is the kind of publication such a story belongs in), along with a call for the skull's return. I keep thinking that there must be some kind of mistake. I want Dean Barrow (prime minister and lawyer) to march down to Jaime Awe's (head of archaeology) office and tell him he's tumbling into crazy land. After all the weird stuff in the news about the McAfee Virus software guy going bonkers and (allegedly) murdering a guy on Ambergris Caye, the last thing Belize needs is a pile of stupid news.
|The crystal skull find spot at Lubaantun in 2003|
It is worse to pretend that such a narrative doesn't exist. Trust me, having worked interacting with the public on a VERY mythologized subject, it is better to say "well some people like to think about that, but let me tell you the REAL story! The REAL story is better than fiction". You better darned well be good at making the truth seem great.
Thing is, Awe totally knows the skull is a fake. Seriously, he does. Sure, he wants the skull in Belize to attract tourists to the National Museum (which is a GREAT museum! It is in the old Belize City jail!). Sure he wants some sort of settlement out of Lucasfilm so that the money can be applied to snazzy Belizean conservation of whatever. But by going about it this way, he ends up coming across in the international media as a caricature of a backwards, parochial Caribbean/Central American amateur who is failing comically on a world stage. It totally isn't true! It isn't! But it is what the public wants to believe, so it will go far (think the North Korean "Unicorn Lair" which was a mistranslation and a poor explanation).
But maybe a buzz is what he is after. As anyone who has ever lived in Belize knows, Aldous Huxley once wrote: “If the world has any ends, British Honduras [Belize] would certainly be one of them. It is not on the way from anywhere to anywhere else. It has no strategic value. It is all but uninhabited.” There are fewer people in the country of Belize (which is about the size of Massachusetts) than in my hometown. They really need to attract visitors and they don't have a big international presence. Belize depends on tourism (and it is a GREAT place for a holiday! GO Belize!), so maybe causing a stir is meant to make people think about what ancient mysteries Belize has to offer? Who knows.
|Mosquito Coast: I excavated under that.|
|Same spot! No lie! Guy in the red was in the film!|