Esoteric spiritual groups such as the Theosophical Society have had a profound effect on the general public’s understanding of the ancient world and archaeology. This article describes the author’s visit as an outside observer to a conference held by the Theosophical Society in America to examine the ways in which the ancient world was represented. While the beliefs of the Theosophical Society and related groups are not always well known to the general public, it is argued that their beliefs have nevertheless had a broad impact on public audiences through adoption in popular culture and films. This article will examine the appearance of esoteric claims about the ancient world in popular fiction, including the writings of H. P. Lovecraft and the Indiana Jones film franchise. If archaeologists are going to engage with public audiences, they need to understand what the public actually thinks of their work.

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