Thursday, December 28, 2006

Fight! Fight! An alert reader notified us of a rather large kerfuffle going on regarding archaeology in Israel. I'm, er, somewhat hesitant to link to this for fear of touching off a political maelstrom, but there's some good archaeological issues involved anyway, so it's probably worth the risk. Besides, it's not like you guys are comment-happy. . . . .

Basics: An anthropology professor at Barnard College, Nadia Abu El-Haj has written a book, ”Facts on the ground: archaeological practice and territorial self-fashioning in Israeli society” (Chicago, 2001), charging Israeli archaeology in general with gross archaeological misconduct in order to construct a Zionist view of the past.

Please note that some of the blogs linked herein are not anthropological/archaeological in nature.

Start here. A response by one of the affected particulars is here. Follow the links therein. Actually, there's not a whole lot of light shed on the actual archaeological claims being made, but clicking around and reading gives a sense of what's going on. This ain't my area, so I can't comment much. Bulldozers, or at least backhoes, aren't exactly unknown at archaeological sites; often you'll use a backhoe to dig a quick trench to get a sedimentological profile so you have some idea of the sort of stratification you're dealing with. And, though it still makes me shudder, picks and shovels can be used with some discretion for removing, say, large deposits of mud brick wall collapse.

A search on Yahoo didn't produce much more in the way of strictly archaeological commentary. But, YMMV.