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Via Memoriae Classicae III – Tomb Raider

A Classics student shares his thoughts on what he considers an era-defining game: the original Tomb Raider (1996). In his article, he highlights some of the historical inaccuracies of the original game (yes, I was also wondering about that “Thor” room in St. Francis Folly when I first played the game many eons ago) and explains why he believes Lara and Indiana Jones are two different conceptions of the heroic “archaeologist” character made popular in the twentieth century. A must-read for Tomb Raider fans!

res gerendae

Righto, then. Let’s talk a bit about computer games. Being a shy and somewhat awkward teenager, a lot of the most memorable experiences of my secondary school years came vicariously from a games console or our just-about-operational-most-of-the-time PC. I explored Super Mario World many times, I braved the twisted forests of Hyrule’s Dark World. I choked down a lump in my throat when Aeris died and I’ve had the waltz music from Balamb Garden’s graduation ball stuck in my head since 1999. None of that has much place in a Classics blog.

Instead I’m going to talk about the only game series from my teenage years that genuinely intersects with Classics and archaeology in a more or less (probably less) meaningful way: Tomb Raider. A lot has been written about Tomb Raider over the years. It was one of those era-defining games which breached the ramparts of even the…

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About Kelly M (423 Articles)
Kelly M is a translator, blogger, and gamer with a passion for archaeology, languages, and wildlife conservation. Tweets under the username @TombRaiderArch and is the admin and chief content creator for The Archaeology of Tomb Raider.

4 Comments on Via Memoriae Classicae III – Tomb Raider

    • Philip Boyes // March 28, 2013 at 17:04 //

      Thanks for the reblog – I’m glad you enjoyed it. It’s nice to see there’s so many people who seem to go from enjoying the Tomb Raider games to being interested enough to want to find out a bit more about the realities behind them. There’s a tendency to get very hung up on how much things like Tomb Raider or Indiana Jones misrepresent archaeology – which, of course, they do – but they’re also a very legitimate way into the subject, and a lot of archaeologists – especially those in their late 20s and early 30s – grew up with them and still thoroughly enjoy them, even if they occasionally make us wince.


      • Philip Boyes // March 28, 2013 at 17:16 //

        I should also add – if you enjoyed that post, do check out the rest of the blog, which has lots of similar (and very different) things on it, and gives a good idea of the realities of life as an archaeological researcher – books, baking and seminars.


      • Thank you for writing the article. 🙂

        I think most people have figured out by now that Indiana Jones’ and Lara Croft’s archaeological methods leave a lot to be desired but it’s so easy to get caught up in the fantasy. There are quite a few professional archaeologists who cite Indy Jones (and, to a lesser extent, Lara) as their inspiration and I think anything that gets people interested in archaeology and ancient history in this day and age can only be a good thing. Part of the purpose of my blog is to try and use the Tomb Raider series as a platform for learning about real archaeological sites and ancient cultures.

        If you don’t mind, I’d like to add the Res Gerendae blog to my blogroll. 🙂


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