17 films about archaeologists and excavations

Why do archaeologists collect backpacks, go to the ends of the world, dig in the ground and spend more than one year away from home? Someone is sure that they are driven by a craving for knowledge and romance. Others believe that the researchers of antiquities are mercantile individuals, prowling in search of treasures. To understand which side to take, we have compiled for you a selection of films and series about archaeologists – stories based on real events or directors’ fantasy, recharged with legends and myths.

Excavations (2021)

In 1939, wealthy and inquisitive widow Edith Pretty plans to excavate her property, as she suspects that treasures may be hidden in the depths of her land. For these purposes, the woman hires the archaeologist Basil Brown. And when an Anglo-Saxon ship of the 7th century is indeed found in one of the mounds of earth , all participants in this event are invited to participate in a historical project. This event will be told by a film filled with personal tragedies of heroes due to the outbreak of World War II .

What do you think, is it worth filming a sequel, and what should be in it?

Original title:
The Dig

Genre:
Drama, biography, history

Actors:
Carey Mulligan, Ralph Fiennes, Stephen Worrall, Daniel Webb…

Country:
United Kingdom

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.8, IMDb – 7.1

Age restrictions:
18+


7 Tomb Keepers (2018)

A feature film about excavations in the genre of fantastic horror is  worth watching for fans of horror with the participation of representatives of the fauna. An Australian venom expert assembles an expedition to find his missing brother. Under the guidance of a stern guide, a group of scientists sets off on a journey, but, having lost their way, they find themselves in an ancient dungeon. Here, for the first time, the heroes encounter cannibal spiders – mutated insects, ready to disembowel anyone who gets in their way.

Original title:
7 Guardians of the Tomb

Genre:
Action, adventure, horror

Actors:
Li Bingbing, Kellan Lutz, Wu Chun…

Country:
China, Australia, Russia, Thailand

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 4.9, IMDb – 4.5

Age limit:
16+


Time Raiders (2016)

This time, the fate of all mankind depends on the heir to the trading dynasty – the young guy Wu Xie. His family is part of the legendary community of tomb raiders. For many centuries, its participants were famous as the best hunters for treasures and relics. However, the youth’s uncle forbids him from participating in dangerous trips, despite the fact that Wu Xie dreams of adventure. But when the key to the tomb of the ancient master and his last notes fall into the hands of a young man, the hero realizes that a threat hangs over the world and her name is the Serpent Queen.

Original title:
Dao mu bi ji

Genre:
Adventure, fantasy

Actors:
Jing Bozhan, Luhan, Wang Jingchun…

Country:
China

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 5.3, IMDb – 4.8


Tutankhamen (mini-series, 2016)

The plot of the historical series about archaeologists revolves around the study of the life of Pharaoh Tutankhamen and is dedicated to the famous expedition, full of adventures, love stories and human deaths. In 1922, Egyptologist Howard Carter discovered the tomb of an ancient ruler during excavations funded by Lord Carnarvon. Legends with a mystical touch still circulate around this event. After all, the legend says that those who penetrate the tomb of the pharaoh are doomed to death.

Original title:
Tutankhamun

Genre:
Drama, melodrama, history

Actors:
Max Irons, Jonathan Aris, Sam Neil, Amy Ren…

Country:
United Kingdom

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.6, IMDb – 7.1

Age restrictions:
12+


Candle in the tomb (TV series 2016 – 2017)

After the demobilization, Hu Baiyi accidentally meets a dealer in various antique gizmos. After learning that the former military man has excavation experience, the businessman offers Hu Baiyi to earn extra money. Led by the main sponsor – National Geographic photographer Shirley Yang – the group goes in search of a lost city that hides untold treasures. A trip that was supposed to be an incredible adventure, and promised wealth to all its participants, turns into a real nightmare when travelers encounter terrible creatures.

Original Title :
Gui chuideng zhi jing jue gucheng

Genre:
Action, Adventure, Fantasy

Actors:
Jin Dong, Joe Chen, Zhao Da…

Country:
China

Rating:
IMDb – 7.2


Don Verden (2015)

Our top films about archeology will continue with an adventure film shot in the format of a comedy satire. Don Verden is a biblical archaeologist. He is hired by a pastor to search for relics in the Holy Land in order to help lost parishioners find faith with the help of the finds. However, not every expedition leads to the expected result, so Don has to improvise, going for forgeries, theft and fraud . And this is not the whole list of what the unfortunate archaeologist is ready to do.

Original title:
Don Verdean

Genre:
Drama, comedy, adventure

Actors:
Sam Rockwell, Amy Ryan, Will Forte…

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 5.5, IMDb – 5.4

Age restrictions:
16+


Ghost Tribe Chronicles (2015)

With a gripping storyline and cool special effects, the film is an adaptation of the online novel The Ghost Blows Out the Light based on Chinese mythology. The main character is a young patriot from China, Hu Baiyi. Under the guidance of Professor Yang, he goes on an expedition, where he discovers the fossilized remains of unknown creatures. However, a huge explosion interrupts the excavations, and a surprise awaits the surviving members of the group in the underground tunnels. In mountain caves , archaeologists discover an ancient temple and disgusting creatures of demonic origin.

Original title:
Jiu ceng yao ta

Genre:
Adventure, fantasy, action

Actors:
Mark Chao, Yao Chen, Tiffany Tan…

Country:
China

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 5.3, IMDb – 5.1


Excavations (TV series 2015)

FBI agent Peter Connelly arrives in Jerusalem because of the murder of an American citizen. During the investigation , he realizes that he is standing in the way of disclosing an ancient international conspiracy that threatens to change the course of human history. Confident that the prophecy is close to being fulfilled, Peter embarks on a long journey – from the hinterland of Norway to New Mexico, to get to the bottom of the truth.

Original title:
Dig

Genre:
Thriller, drama, detective

Actors:
Jason Isaacs, Anne Heche, Ori Feffer…

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.2, IMDb – 6.8


Pyramid (2014)

This film about archeological excavations – a thriller with a bias in ancient Greek mythology, filmed in a pseudo-documentary format, proves that not all mysteries need to be solved. A group of archaeologists finds an unknown pyramid hidden under a layer of sand. Unable to overcome curiosity and ignoring the prohibitions of senior management, the team goes deep into the pyramid and quickly realizes that they are lost in its labyrinths. Scientists understand that they are trapped and someone is hunting for them. But who could it be?

Original title:
The Pyramid

Genre:
Horror, Action, Thriller, Detective, Adventure

Actors:
Ashley Hinshaw, Denis O’Hare, James Buckley…

Country:
USA, Morocco

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 4.7, IMDb – 4.6

Age Limits :
16+


Blackrock Slope (2014)

A film about excavations tells about a group of researchers who found a Toltec burial ground from the Mesoamerican period in the cold Canadian taiga . This discovery can become a significant archaeological discovery and bring fame to the expedition members, but for this you need to return home, and our heroes find themselves isolated and unable to call for help. Being close to an ancient burial place, the team members gradually begin to show signs of insanity.

Original title:
Black Mountain Side

Genre:
Horror, Thriller

Actors:
Shane Tverdun, Michael Dixon, Carl Toftfelt…

Country:
Canada

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 4.7, IMDb – 5.2


Treasure Seekers (TV series 2014 – 2017)

The serial film about archaeologists was loved by viewers and critics: a comedy with funny characters received a high rating from fans of a kind of British humor . The plot tells about two friends Andy and Lance, who are in a small club of interests. Their hobbies are excavations and treasure hunting with metal detectors. In the course of the story, men compete with a large professional community, have comical conversations and face greed, betrayal and other human vices.

Original title:
Detectorists

Genre:
Comedy

Actors:
Mackenzie Crook, Toby Jones, Rachel Stirling …

Country:
United Kingdom

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.4, IMDb – 8.6


Hunters (2013)

When Paxton and Tripp’s parents go missing, the boys learn a secret about them. It turns out that the couple belong to a secret society of archeological adventurers who track down legendary artifacts around the world in order to save them. With the help of their friend, the brothers decide to find their parents, but first they need to find one magical thing – a piece of Snow White’s mirror from a fairy tale.

Original title:
The Hunters

Genre:
Fiction, fantasy, adventure

Actors:
Victor Garber, Michelle Forbes, Alexa PenaVega …

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 5.5, IMDb – 5.0

Age restrictions:
12+


Prisoners of the Sun (2013)

According to the plot of the film about the excavation of tombs, once in ancient times, aliens brought architecture and astronomy to the ancient Egyptians. But the people thanked the extraterrestrial helpers in a peculiar way, expelling them from the Earth and imprisoning the last remaining in the catacombs of the pyramid. And now an eccentric professor with his guys goes to Egypt to penetrate the pyramid, not suspecting that this threatens the death of all life on the planet.

Original title:
Prisoners of the Sun

Genre:
Horror, Action, Detective, Adventure

Actors:
John Rhys-Davies, David Charvet, Carmen Chaplin, Emily Holmes…

Country:
USA, Germany

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 3.8, IMDb – 3.7

Age Limits :
16 +


Secret of Ragnarok (2013)

The fantasy adventure film is based on Scandinavian legends about the end of the world. Archaeologist Secundus investigates the myth of Ragnarok. Together with his children and colleagues, he goes on an expedition to the border between Norway and Russia, which was considered a no man’s land for ten years. There he finds runic inscriptions that reveal to him a gripping and shocking truth.

Original title:
Gåten Ragnarok

Genre:
Fantasy, adventure

Actors:
Paul Sverre Valheim Hagen, Nikolai Kleve Brock, Sofia Helin …

Country:
Norway

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 5.5, IMDb – 5.9

Age limit:
16+


Labyrinth (2012)

Archaeologist Alice Tanner is haunted by dreams of a strange woman from a distant past. While digging in the south of France, she stumbles upon a burial cave with two skeletons, an ancient ring, and a map of the labyrinth. These findings lead Alice to the secrets of the Holy Grail and make her a target for a secret society. But what does all this have to do with strange visions? It turns out that the fate of the Englishwoman is closely intertwined with the fate of a girl who died here a long time ago, and three books that contain the true secret of the Grail.

Original title:
Labyrinth

Genre:
Fantasy, drama, adventure

Actors:
John Hurt, Tom Felton, Jessica Brown Findlay, Vanessa Kirby …

Country:
Germany, UK, South Africa, Czech Republic

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.6, IMDb – 5.9

Age restrictions:
16+


Treasure Keepers (2011)

Next on the list of the best excavation films is an adventure movie that will first take the viewer to the Jordanian desert , and then send them on a journey around the globe. Archaeologist Victoria Carter explores an ancient temple where she discovers an ancient parchment that points to the location of King Solomon’s seal. Meanwhile, the Vatican learns about this find and sends Angelo, the guardian of treasures, after the girl – it is impossible for the artifact to fall into the wrong hands. Heroes must unite in this race and uncover a thousand-year-old secret.

Original title:
Treasure Guards

Genre:
Adventure

Actors:
Anna Friel, Raoul Bova, Volker Bruch…

Country:
Germany

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 5.7, IMDb – 4.7

Age limit:
16+


Excavations (mini-series, 2008)

How dangerous can some discoveries be? How often do the events of the past leave a deep imprint on the destinies of people in the present? These questions and more will be answered in this exciting multi-part film about a group of archaeologists who will have to face the history of the knights, Babylon and the Crusades. They embark on journeys to various countries and cities, finding new artifacts and changing modern history.

Original title:
Bonekickers

Genre:
Drama, detective, adventure, history

Actors:
Hugh Bonneville, Julie Graham, Adrian Lester…

Country:
United Kingdom

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.5, IMDb – 5.0

Age restrictions:
18+


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Jared Lambert/ author of the article

I’ve been writing about movies, TV shows and anime for over 3 years, and you may have seen my reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic.

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