Profane Humanities Podcast
E18. Simon Merrells. From Ancient Rome to Middle Earth

E18. Simon Merrells. From Ancient Rome to Middle Earth

December 31, 2020

After a brief absence for editing, I'm pleased to announce the return of the Yuletide special!

Welcome back long-time listeners, and welcome to shiny new listeners who have come for this week’s wonderful guest, Simon Merrells!

Simon is often known for his stellar turn as Marcus Crassus, the man who defeated Spartacus, and the titular character's antagonist in the hit tv show. Spartacus shot Merrells to international fame, and he has since put in turns on The Tomorrow People, Dominion, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow ,12 Monkeys, and Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens!!

Simon recently starred opposite Tom Cullen and MARK HAMMILL, yes, Luke Skywalker/the Joker himself,  as the Templar Knight, Tancrede, in History’s Knightfall, and shares a wee bit (as much as he's allowed to at any rate) about the forthcoming Lord of the Rings/Tolkien-based tv show! 

His career spans more titles than I can fit into an intro, but I will mention that I met Simon when he was playing the lead in a short film I was working on called The Leap, a sci fi dystopia directed by Karel van Bellingen. It's a great film, and worth 20 mins of your time!

We also cover some serious ground on Spartacus and Knightfall, and I have to say I was seriously impressed with Simon’s curiosity and knowledge on the ancient world. It highlights his dedication and focus not just as an actor but as a person of intelligence and insight. But he’s also a bloody good laugh so settle in for some history-spanning stories and behind the scenes frolics with my Yuletide special guest, Simon Merrells.


Thanks go out to Simon for his time, and The Leap family, we are overdue a reunion!

Simon can be found 

@SMerrells on Twitter


If you want to support the show, give it a like and a follow on the socials and just help spread the word, and if you really want to help out the show click the link and chuck in a buck on Liberapay, my patron platform of choice (for now, more news on this soon).


In the meantime, have a happy and safe holidays…remember no kissing under the mistletoe this year, and I’ll hopefully see you all on the other side when this dog of a year is over, in 2021. But for now, happy holidays wherever you are, and a happy new year. I’ve been Paul Harrison. Good night and good luck.

E17. Dr Chris Naunton & The Golden Age of Egyptology Part 2!

E17. Dr Chris Naunton & The Golden Age of Egyptology Part 2!

December 10, 2020

Dr Chris Naunton is back, and The Golden Age of Egyptology Part 2 is here! 

Danger! Why did early travellers to Egypt choose to 'take on the appearance of Turks'? How inhospitable was Egypt in the 19th Century?

Which tombs found in the golden age have since been lost and who decided to remove some of the most beautiful friezes? 

Why did Akhenaten cause Egyptologists to fall out and what's with the purchase of slave girls???

Find out this and more in part two of what proved to be a fascinating discussion with Egyptologist Dr Chris Naunton!  


E16. Dr Chris Naunton and the Golden Age of Egyptology Part 1!

E16. Dr Chris Naunton and the Golden Age of Egyptology Part 1!

November 19, 2020

Welcome back all! Thanks for joining us! Today it’s the sequel I’ve been looking forward to recording for a while now – I’m joined by the charming and witty Chris Naunton to discuss his newest release, Egyptologists Notebooks, and the so called Golden Age of Egyptology – but was it all that golden? Stay tuned to find out!

Chris Naunton is former director of the Egypt Exploration Society. He’s appeared on the BBC and channel five hosting shows covering Flinders Petrie (the founding father of scientific Egyptology) and Tutankhamun, and numerous other shows including Egypt's Unexplained Files! (alongside yours truly!)

He’s currently the Director of the Robert Anderson Research Charitable Trust (RARCT), a London-based charity that provides support to visiting academics, and he’s the President of the International Association of Egyptologists

….and on top of all of that-  he’s written two fascinating books, the first Searching for the Lost Tombs of Egypt we discussed last year, so be sure to go check that episode out! The second, Egyptologist's Notebooks, we’ll be digging right into today AND in the following episode, yes, this is a two-parter. So for those of you who’ve been hankering for a deep dive into the world of early exploration, adventure and ground-breaking Egyptology, well, you’re in for a treat!


Chris can be found at

and @chrisnaunton on twitter & instagram


I also have a quick announcement if you’ll indulge me. Like many people producing these shows, it’s beginning to dominate my life and I’m hitting the point where I need the show to support itself.

I'd love nothing more than to grow this channel up from more than a hobby I squeeze in between work gigs - I have SO MANY great guests lined up that I can't fit in yet because I don't have time between scrabbling to try keep food on my cat's table (everything is hers, as cat-owners will attest).

But I can't do it without you. So if you feel like you can support the show and chuck in a buck (or five, I mean, you do you!) then I'd be much obliged, forever grateful, and I might even give you a shout out – however, not one to do things the obvious or easy way, I’m not setting up a Patreon.

If you support the podcast, you get the podcast. Even if you don’t support the podcast still get the podcast! But possibly not for terribly much longer. SO if you want to do that, head on over to liberapay which is my current crowd-fund/patron platform of choice and any support will be hugely appreciated. And that can be found @docharrison - please be advised, they do take recurring payments up front, so don't be caught out by that - I wouldn't want anyone coming back feeling they'd been unfairly charged!  This is an evolving experiment. I may move to a different platform if demand for extras is strong, but I don't really want to lock any features behind a paywall, so bear with me whilst I try this out...and hopefully this will stay viable for a long time to come! 


Thanks for reading/listening, and stay safe out there. Dr P. 

E15 Halloween Special with The Stygian Chronicles

E15 Halloween Special with The Stygian Chronicles

October 29, 2020

It's that time of year again, my favourite holiday, and we're getting spooky on this ship! Today I'm joined by The Curator of the Stygian Chronicles. Stygian Chronicles is a horror fiction audio project that takes original and classic stories and treats them to a lavish full audio production, including original voice acting (some by yours truly in a future episode, in fact) and soundscapes and effects. The result is an audio story with 10x the production of an audio book that rivals the classic radio dramas of a bygone age. 


In this episode we touch on the cornerstones of horror, what makes it tick, and what it means to humans through history. We'll look at gothic and victorian horror, ancient myth, fin de siècle horrow, mummy movies and stories, Hammer Horror, Stoker, Lovecraft and unwrap some unspeakable horror!! 

So wrap up in your blanket, stick a torch under your face, and prepare to share some stories... and Happy Halloween!! 


If you enjoy the Stygian Chronicles you can find them at @stygiancurator on Twitter, @thestygianchronicles on Insta and on Patreon.

E14. Jonell Elliott. Being Lara - A Dangerous Girl.

E14. Jonell Elliott. Being Lara - A Dangerous Girl.

October 23, 2020

Greetings one and all, and welcome if you’re new here! I’m Dr Paul Harrison and it’s that time again, where I get to interview one of my heroes, and as you can hear from that intro sting, today it’s the wonderful, the talented, and until very recently the elusive…Jonell Elliott!


Though most of you will know Jonell for her amazing work on Tomb Raider’s 4 through 6,   - Jonell’s voiceover credits include are vast and include Tv and radio commercials for Johnson & Johnson, Felix, Amex, McDonald’s, Sony, Nescafé, Wella, Loyld’s, NatWest, Sure, Oil of Olay and many more!


She’s A regular voice on BBC 1 and 2, ITV, Channel 5, UK TV, Disney Channel, Cartoon Network, History Channel and Sky TV.


Jonell has voiced many Cartoon roles in Angelina Ballerina, Miffy, Yo Gabba Gabba, Lazy Lucy, Planet Grabo and The Slow Norris.


You might have heard her on documentaries such as Too much Too Young on ITV or Sports programmes on Transworld.


Her acting credits include parts in Grange Hill (BBC), Family Affairs( Channel 5), Second Sight (ITV), Beer Goggles (Channel 4) and (Feature Film), Welcome to the Punch.


And if that wasn’t enough… she’s also been a presenter, including work for, Alien Wars (Sky),The Great Big British Quiz (Channel 5) and The Psychic Channel (Sky)


This interview is made as a compliment to the interview with Jonell by our pal and all around great chap Chris from Raidercast, so please go and check his interview out for all the bits I don’t cover here. I also want to give a shout out and thanks to Chris for helping promote this episode and being so open to collaboration. I feel that in competition we all suffer and there are always losers…in collaboration, everyone wins.


Tomb Raider needs no introduction, but this part of the original classic tomb raider series is near and dear to my heart – I’ll let Jonell break the series down for you, but needless to say, it begins in Egypt with the release of 1999s tomb raider the last revelation. Lara Croft dies (sorry spoilers for a 21 year old game) and we see her memorialised in Chronicles and resurrected in The Angel of Darkness. As Jonell will mention, this feels like a trilogy all its own within the classic Lara universe and it’s a personal favourite for  me. In 1999 Egyptomania was riding high with the release of the mummy and the explosion of alternative archaeology! And whilst this may or may not surprise some of my peers, I was really into that at the time! It was before I’d gone to study Egyptology and I would devour anything with Egypt on it, and Tomb raider was no exception. In fact until the last reboot I’d prided myself on finishing every game at lease once. So for everyone who’s joining from the TR fan community…I assure you you’re among friends here. But enough of my rambling, you’re here to hear the scoop from Lara herself, so without further ado, it is my honour and pleasure to introduce to you, Jonell Elliot.

E13 Josh Guerrero All Around Adventurer

E13 Josh Guerrero All Around Adventurer

September 17, 2020

Welcome back everyone! 


I had the honour of sitting down for a fascinating conversation with Josh Guerrero for this episode. Josh is the host of the All Around Adventure podcast, and is also a former US Marine, and Peace Corps volunteer, who spent two years helping train teachers in a remote village in Gambia, and nowadays, he's an archaeologist, too! 


This will hopefully be part one of two or three, time allowing, as Josh and I plan to have more conversations about his archaeological work and expeditions in the future, but first I wanted to dig into his past in the Marine Corps and Peace Corps, so buckle up for a trip to basic training and welcome Josh to the show! 


You can find Josh at the following places - and I encourage you to check out his work, it's really fascinating! 

Also of note, OPERATION DUAL TREK, in Josh's own words, 

"I’m preparing for Operation: Dual Trek. A 1,000 mile walking expedition in South America that I plan to undertake next year. This will be to raise money for American Veterans Archaeological Recovery (AVAR). A non-profit organization that helps American Veterans through field archaeology." 

We talk about this on the show in brief, but check out his page here

for more details and links to his sponsor page. Josh is self-funding his trip and all proceeds go directly to the charity, helping veterans through archaeology... anybody who's been on a dig knows how good the camaraderie and joy of discovery can be, and I think this is a great way to help people in need of that. 

Also, after hearing about Josh's misadventures with water in Gambia, it made me think of charities like WaterAid who strive to bring fresh, safe drinking water to remote places around the world. This literally could save thousands of lives a year, so please consider helping them out if you can.


Ok, that's it from me, hope you enjoy the episode, and thanks again for tuning in. Our new release schedule is the third Thursday of every month so stay tuned for more and remember to like, rate, and subscribe! P 

E12. Shelley Blond - O.G Lara Croft.

E12. Shelley Blond - O.G Lara Croft.

August 20, 2020

Welcome everyone and welcome BACK!


As you can see, I was blessed with an interview with Shelley Blond the original voice of Lara Croft this week, for which I’m eternally grateful. This week’s guest certainly bought out my inner fanboy! Shelley Blond is an actor and voice actor whose work includes west end stage productions and many a household name tv show, including Cold Feet, Peep Show, and feature films such as Snow White: the Sequel. She’s been a voice you’ve likely heard on Heart FM, ITV, Disney and Nat Geo, among many others, but perhaps the role most archaeologists and historians know her best for, is that of the original voice of Lara Croft...Tomb Raider.


The original tomb raider game was a hit on a scale hard to relate to our younger listeners out there. The first game of its kind, nobody, including the creators knew how people would react to a 3D third person exploration action adventure game. We take this genre for granted now, a quarter century later, but this was something never seen before, and it was a gamble.

Tomb Raider sits at the threshold of where video games stopped being juvenile entertainment and began being conceived of as ‘cinematic’. The interaction, the musical score, and the performances made this game something modern audiences now take for granted – they made it an immersive experience.

The 1st Tomb Raider game sold a million copies in its first quarter and went on to sell seven million worldwide, receiving critical acclaim and setting the standard for modern gaming as we know it. It went on to become one of the most influential games of all time and served as a template for the many action adventure exploration games to follow, driving 3D graphics technology as it did so. The series holds six official Guinness world records and Lara herself has become a world-wide icon.

The character of Lara Croft has sometimes found herself at the centre of controversy – one of the first female protagonists in gaming, she was largely embraced by an -at that time – majority male gaming audience. However, Lara also sat at a sometimes uncomfortable point between sex icon and strong independent feminist protagonist, and it’s a conversation, since the reboot of the franchise, that fans and pundits are still having.

At the genesis of this maelstrom of mainstream media attention was a young actress who had no notion of what she was getting herself into, or that she’d become forever linked to a cultural icon who rivals the likes of Indiana Jones and James Bond. I had the opportunity to speak with Shelley about her experiences as and with Lara Croft, so please welcome to the show, actor Shelley Blond.


As always, thank you for listening, and if you enjoyed that be sure to check out Shelley’s work on the mini documentary the History and Geography in Tomb Raider, you can find that over on YouTube here:


The Tomb Raider Suite, mentioned in this episode by Shelley, was composed by Nathan McCree, and performed by the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra (conducted by Robert Ziegler). You can find more information, and limited edition cd's here (no affiliation):


Last, but certainly not least, Shelley Blond can be found on twitter

@BlondShelley  and is represented by @yaketyyakvoices


And be sure to check in next month for more explorations of historical, archaeological and environmental culture. I’ve been Dr Paul Harrison. Thanks for listening.

E11. Dr Eleanor Dobson. Gothic Horror - Death & The Nile

E11. Dr Eleanor Dobson. Gothic Horror - Death & The Nile

November 14, 2019

How did Egyptian mummies become entwined with fairy tale princesses? What was an Egyptian queen doing in King Arthur's court? What Do Egyptologists Wallis Budge & Battiscombe Gunn, have in common with Occultists Aleister Crowley & Florence Farr? And where do Lovecraft, Freud, and Cleopatra fit in? Answers to this, and more in this weeks episode! 

Dr Eleanor Dobson is lecturer in nineteenth century literature at the university of Birmingham, with a particular focus on the reception of ancient Egypt. She was instrumental in the foundation of the Tea with the sphinx annual conference, and author of several fascinating papers (which I encourage you to find online), and the upcoming book, Ancient Egypt in the Modern Imagination: Art, Literature and Culture.

We sat down over Skype to talk about the inspirations behind some major horror and mummy fiction, as well as some unexpected social connections between some famous and infamous Egyptologists and occultists of the 19th century! So, if you like your Budge with a slice of Crowley, or your Yeats with a slice of Lovecraft, you’ve come to the right place!  

As ever, if you enjoy the show please give it a like and share and help the audience grow and be sure to check out the work of our guests.


Where to find Dr Dobson


@EllieCDobson (profile & papers)

By Eleanor Dobson

Forthcoming book


Works Mentioned




Conan Doyle




Florence Farr




Lost in a Pyramid



*note these are not affiliate links but charity links for Action Duchenne Uk. Purchases result in a donation to the registered charity by Amazon. Thank you. 

E10. Dr Chris Naunton & the Lost Tombs of Egypt!

E10. Dr Chris Naunton & the Lost Tombs of Egypt!

April 19, 2019

Is there anything left to find in the sands of Egypt??? YES! And this man knows how and (potentially) where!! 

Dr Chris Naunton is an Egyptologist, broadcaster and author. In addition to being the former director of the Egypt Exploration Society, he’s appeared on the BBC and Channel Five, hosting shows covering Flinders Petrie (the founding father of scientific Egyptology) and Tutankhamun, among numerous other subject relating to ancient Egypt.

He’s currently the Director of the Robert Anderson Research Charitable Trust (RARCT), a London-based charity that provides support to visiting academics, and President of the International Association of Egyptologists ….and on top of all of that-  he’s written a fascinating, and I mean that sincerely, fantastically interesting book Searching for the Lost Tombs of Egypt! Which takes us on an historical and modern tour of the potential sites of the final resting places of some of the most famous ancient Pharaohs and personalities from history. It really is my great pleasure to introduce Dr Chris Naunton! (@chrisnaunton)

Searching for the Lost Tombs of Egypt - via @AmazonUK

The EES (Egypt Exploration Society)

Kingsley Amis

Also, I should give a big shout out and thank you to the Egypt Exploration Society for accommodating Chris and I at very short notice, and allowing us a space to record this interview – there is some background noise and the occasional phone, but overall I’m extremely happy how this turned out, so thank you guys, it is much appreciated – please check out the EES and their research and membership scheme, they have a fantastic library in central London and it’s really an oasis of calm in the busy centre of town! 

As I mentioned in the podcast, I had a dozen other questions that I wanted to ask Chris, but unfortunately there simply wasn’t time, however, he’s promised to come back for round 2, so we’ll be revisiting Chris hopefully soon after he’s returned from the next round of Egyptian exploration! Speaking of, if you fancy heading to Egypt with Dr Chris, he runs annual tours, so check out is website for more details, and I urge you to pick up his book Searching for the Lost Tombs of Egypt, it reads like a novel, and it really is a fun exploration of the some of the most fascinating and enduring aspects of the field.

Thanks so much for tuning in, and have a great Easter holiday everyone! – oh and before I forget, Chris and I both appear on the brand new show Egypt’s Unexplained Files over on Discovery Science Channel, it debuted last Sunday and should be running for the next couple of months, so please check that out and let me know how it goes because I don’t carry the channel and I never get to see these shows! Thanks all! 

The Profane Egyptologist E9. Marc Barkman-Astles and the Questions of Doom!

The Profane Egyptologist E9. Marc Barkman-Astles and the Questions of Doom!

February 9, 2019

“If Archaeologists won’t talk to (people) someone else will (…) we’ve been duped into thinking we need to struggle to tell our story…”

Today’s guest should be a familiar face to anyone who’s watched archaeological media online. Marc Barkman-Astles is the creator and face of Archaeosoup, a Youtube channel he established way back in the almost prehistoric-vlogger days of 2010.

In his twelve-year career as a professional archaeologist, Marc has produced more than fifteen hundred videos, and amounted an impressive 3.5 million views. In addition to all this he’s also grown a pretty epic beard.

But what are some of the challenges and realities tackled by the public faces of archaeology today, particularly in an environment that’s increasingly politically divisive and inundated with rhetoric and pseudoarchaeology?

Marc shares some experiences and insights from his impressive career so far, from the praise, to death threats(!) and highlights the necessity, alongside the potential pitfalls (and metaphorical rolling boulders) that public archaeologists face in the era of modern discourse.

So, settle in as we dig into the work of Mark Barkman-Astles, aka Mr Soup! 


Check out Marc's work and impressive video back-catalogue at Archaeosoup!


The Questions of Doom Series


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