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If you meet an archaeologist, here’s a warning: don’t believe everything they say.

The problem, you see, is that people trust archaeologists. They tend to go all wide-eyed and assume that being an archaeologist means you know everything that humans have done on this planet in the last 200,000 years (that’s if they don’t think you also know about dinosaurs in which case they’ll think you know everything that happened on this planet in the last 200,000,000 years) and that therefore everything you say about the past is accurate, or at least the most reasonable interpretation of the available evidence.

The truth, however, is that archaeologists will sometimes want to release themselves from the pressure of living up to such high expectations by telling the occasional porkie just to amuse themselves. Here are 7 classic lies to look out for (or to try on your mates in the pub). Enjoy!

1. All this used to be graveyards

A nice easy one to get started with. Members of the public will often ask if you’ve ever dug up a dead body (that is of course if they aren’t asking about gold or dinosaurs) so why not give them the full horror show and tell them that there are bodies directly under their feet. Using this particular lie I have suggested that there are graveyards under most of the pubs in north London and several of my friends kitchens (particularly impressive as many of them lived in 2nd floor flats)

2. The Camden Goths are direct descendants of the Germanic Goths

Also if you claim that their style of dress was very similar, then you get the added bonus of imagining a huge Germanic tribesman lumbering into battle wearing tight PVC trousers, monstrously tall platform boots and runny eyeliner. Added points if you can convince them that The Cure based most of their songs on German folk tunes.

3. The Fossil of Lucy was so called because it was holding a stone tool with it’s name scratched on

“Of course that wasn’t enough evidence to be sure that was her name, she could have stolen the stone tool after all, but when they checked the fur loincloth she was wearing they also found a name tag stitched in the back so that sealed it.”

4. All Egyptian tombs are cursed to some extent, but some of the curses are just annoying

Everyone has heard of the big curses, the ones that cause death and madness, not to mention the annoyance of being followed around by reanimated royalty. What the public don’t hear about are the more mundane curses that most Egyptologists have to deal with in their day to day life. It’s an occupational hazard, one second you’re dusting off a canopic jar, the next second you’ve been cursed with an eternally itchy bum. Other mundane curses have included a really stubbable toe, the inability to find keys when you are already late and never being able to work out if an avocado is ripe.

5. The basements of the Tower of London form an exact mirror image of the buildings above ground

So that if you flipped the whole building over it would look exactly the same, Edward II commissioned it. This lie is great as it sounds like the kind of crazy shit a king would do and if you say it loudly whilst holding up an umbrella next to the tower itself then you can almost guarantee your lie will go international.

6. Latest evidence suggests Stonehenge was built on a dare

This theory is based on aerial photography that shows that the henges and barrows of Salisbury Plain actually spell out the words ‘Lads, Lads, Lads. Banter’ in Druidic runes.

7. Well of course on that one site we found… actually, no I can’t talk about that. Absolutely not.

This one is all in the delivery and setting, preferably when you are about to leave a pub on a night out. Start to say something then cut yourself off. When asked to go on, look behind you like you are worried some one might be listening then say again that it’s nothing. If they keep asking say that you’ve already said too much and that you never know who is around. Down your drink, make a subtle reference to the fact that aliens are real and run out the door. Job done.

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Paul Duncan McGaritty

Paul Duncan McGaritty

Paul Duncan McGarrity is the UK's only stand up archaeologist. He has performed comedy in some pretty odd places, like museums, medieval barns, and even on Hadrian's Wall. You can find out when he's next performing at www.paulduncanmcgarrity.co.uk. Just don't accuse him of telling old jokes.

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