Israel Day Eleven: Israelite Origins
Our conversation today touched on what I consider to be some of the central themes of this course. Some of the questions that came up either directly or indirectly were: (1) What is the purpose of archaeology? (2) Can archaeology bring about a social or political transformation, like peace and reconciliation between people groups in conflict? (3) Is the history or archaeology of an area more significant than the social and political climate in the present? Less?
We explored these questions in light of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, working with a point made by Dr. Eric Meyers in one of his articles. Dr. Meyers suggests that both Israelis and Palestinians share a common ancestor, the Canaanite, and posits that the realization that these two people groups share the same origin might serve to bring them together. In some of our past seminar discussions, we’ve raised the question, “What is the purpose of archaeology?” Certainly archaeology allows us to learn more about our collective past and the rise of human civilization. However, I think that it is also essential to consider how archaeology can be applied to our world today. Many of the archaeological sites that we have visited hold artifacts from centuries ago and even many millenia ago. For me, these artifacts are beautiful and awe-inspiring independent of any implications they have for the present. However, Dr. Meyers brings up an quintessential archaeological issue in suggesting that archaeology may possess the power to influence the present.
Over the course of our conversation, in the midst of the finished excavations of the formerly magnificent Iron Age city of Hazor, my classmates and I voiced a variety of opinions on the influence of archaeology on peace and reconciliation. It seemed to me that the general consensus was that if archaeology could have an influence on the present by demonstrating to Israelis and Palestinians that they share a common origin, the effect of the archaeological conviction could only make a significant change in the political climate in conjunction with more current efforts, both logistical and ideological.
Today we explored some really beautiful archaeological sites: Tel Dan, the location of the earliest arch in architectural history as well as several waterfalls, Nimrod’s Castle, the remnants of some fantastic Islamic constructions from the 13th century, and Hazor, one of the most extensive Iron Age settlements in the region. As I mentioned before, I think that these sites can stand alone as a beautiful testament to the history of humanity. However, the notion that archaeology can also contribute toward political and social progress or healing just adds to the significance and beauty of these sites.
Tags: Final reflections