Archaeologists as spies? Saint Martin's professor's article takes a look at the topic

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Lacey, Wash. - An article about the links between archaeologists and espionage written by Saint Martin's College faculty member David Price, Ph.D., has been published in Archaeology magazine. The stuff of such fictional adventures as the Indiana Jones movies, it is a subject that has remained relatively unscrutinized in the real world.

Price’s article, “Cloak and Trowel,” explores how various American archaeologists, with their credentials and knowledge of local surroundings and people, have easily slipped into intelligence-gathering roles since the early 20th century. His article also raises questions about the ethics of mixing of politics and science in light of today’s political climate.

His article was the subject of an Aug. 27 segment of National Public Radio’s “Talk of the Nation.”

Price, who chairs the college’s sociology and cultural anthropology department, has long been a student of archaeological history. He became interested in the subject in 1985, while studying for his master’s degree at the University of Chicago. While there, he says he often interviewed his professors to learn more about the subject. As his interest deepened, he started using a combination of interviews, archival work and the federal Freedom of Information Act to access classified documents. Through these, he has gained insights into the tangled relationship between archaeologists and the CIA, FBI and Department of Defense.

His ongoing study of privacy issues and legislation that restricts the rights of U.S. citizens has led to his forthcoming book, “Threatening Anthropology: McCarthyism and the FBI’s Surveillance of Activist Anthropologists.” The book, due out from Duke University Press next spring, recounts the subjugation of American anthropologists to local and national loyalty hearings during the 1940s and 1950s.

Price, a Saint Martin’s faculty members since 1994, is a graduate of The Evergreen State College. After earning his master’s degree at the University of Chicago, he completed a doctorate at the University of Florida. He has done archeological and anthropological work in several locations, including Egypt, Israel and the Northwest.

For more information:
Deanna Partlow
Senior editor; media relations coordinator
360-438-4541 or

David Price, Ph.D.
Chair, sociology/cultural anthropology