a bit more intelligence than to expose themselves to frostbite, sunburn and insect torment when at least skins were available for protection. The picture of the Cheyenne (and other native American tribes) in these same loin cloths with snow all around them, while the invaders (white man) are very well covered in protective clothing, is even slightly insulting.
As for the gods, they can take care of themselves. I'll not worry about what they wear. Hazel MWhite, St Louis, Missouri
At the movies Great archaeology movies (feature Jul/Aug/119)? My favourites are Carry On Behind (1975) and For Your Eyes Only (1981). In the former, Kenneth Williams’s professor Roland Crump leads a group of students in an excavation of a Roman “encampment” at a caravan park. He excavates a mosaic and sinks a few boreholes. Though littered with inaccuracies, the film nevertheless presents a reasonably credible picture of student summer digs – exciting archaeology, basic accommodation, evenings in the pub, and (ahem) romantic engagements – that I think many archaeologists would recognise.
In For Your Eyes Only, James Bond investigates the death of Timothy Havelock, a marine archaeologist and mi6 agent. Havelock's daughter, Melina, carries on his work, and we see her engaged in some underwater excavation, although her grasp of chronology could be improved. “Careful, James, that's 5,000 years old”, she tells Bond after he's bashed a Doric column with a mini-sub. Edward Biddulph, Haddenham, Buckinghamshire
After a hectic week's digging under the tuition of Richard Atkinson at Dorchester on Thames in 1949, during which the principles of trench “hygiene” had been thoroughly drummed into us, a group of us travelled into Oxford for an evening at the cinema. The A film was Leslie Howard's Pimpernel Smith (1941), in which Howard plays a professor of archaeology who goes into war-torn Europe to rescue refugees. Halfway through the film he broke Atkinson's rule No 1 by climbing out of a deep trench and sitting on the very edge of his cleaned section, whilst his students crowded within inches of the brink. Our group broke into cheers and laughter, much to the bewilderment of the rest of the audience. In spite of this directorial faux pas, it was a memorable archaeological film, made without the gimmickry of 21st century technology, and still well worth watching 70 years later. James Dyer, Luton, Bedfordshire
Stokes Croft James Dixon’s efforts to engage the practice of archaeology with contemporary society and politics may not be to everyone’s taste. However, I applaud both him and British Archaeology for giving space to this innovative and essential application of archaeological analysis. Why then was his article examining the recent riots in Bristol’s Stokes Croft district (“A true people’s archaeology”, Jul/Aug/119) turned into a police wanted poster, with photos of individuals suspected of violent behaviour? I hope for the author’s sake that these were thoughtlessly included by the editorial team and not by him. Daniel Rhodes, Edinburgh
• The photos were published online by the Avon & Somerset Constabulary, and several are still there at the time of writing. They were included with the feature by the editor (with thought). Ed
What is now Wales Thank you for the item on the work of Toby Driver (“Seen from the air – the story of Wales”, Jul/Aug/119). However, I think in some ways it’s wrong to talk of the “archaeology of Wales”.
Does Wales have a constant cultural or political identity? The people along what are now the Welsh Marches had much in common, and it’s wrong to confine them to modern boundaries. The archaeological difference between [the Celtic tribes] the Silures and Ordovices, both occupying land in what is now Wales, was greater than that between the Silures and the Dobunni, who were in what are now separate countries. Is it not possible to have an objective archaeology, untainted by modern divisions? John Owen, Caerphilly
And finally… The debate over TV's archaeology programmes will continue (Letters May/Jun/118 and Jul/Aug/119). I can only add that the likes of Neil Oliver show amateurs like me and countless others what an exciting and worthwhile subject archaeology can be. They spurred me on to enrol upon a course of study by distance learning with the University of Exeter, where I graduated with a diploma in archaeology and a BA degree in humanities. I am currently three quarters of the way through the University of Leicester’s MA degree course in archaeology and heritage.
I am well into my retirement, I am simply doing it for the interest. Each time I am asked how and why I got involved in this passion, my answer is the same. “It all began with TV programmes.” And I am proud of these roots. John Clancy, email@example.com
Having had some experience in TV land, I feel I must point out that the much maligned Neil Oliver has very little to do with the shots that seem to irritate people so much. It is the people behind the camera who “call the shots” and decide how the presenter delivers content. Mr Oliver is directed, and I suspect, given the choice, he would prefer not to “pose dramatically” or “walk purposefully”. James Mindham, firstname.lastname@example.org
Archaeology is not a science, but an adjunct of the entertainment and tourism businesses. Yes, it is interesting, and it is nice to know about our past, but it does not matter in the overall scheme of things.
If archaeologists want to continue they must learn to communicate with interested people, and to learn to fund these operations from the presentation to the public from books, TV or public lectures: the expenditure of taxpayers' money cannot be justified when most of the world is starving or at war. Too much archaeology is cliquish and kept within the halls of universities for longer than ought to be allowed. Neil Oliver is on the rights (but needs to visit a barber). Brian Robinson, Brentwood
British Archaeology|September October 2011|11