Monday, March 08, 2010

Digging for trouble - sacred and profane archaeology

Dig beneath Jerusalem's sacred stones in the name of science, and you'll incite threats and preemptive arrests. At the very least, insults and rocks will be hurled.
The recent convergence of archaeological projects in Jerusalem's oldest and most sensitive district has ignited Arab fury, prompted official Israeli denials, and sparked off an internecine row amongst archaeologists about the use of Biblical scripture in scientific analysis.

Any archaeological excavation close to the Old City walls quickly becomes a religious flashpoint and a focus for vicious politicking that can provoke Muslims, Jews and Christians around the globe. Like a baklava of multiple historic layers, strewn with jarringly anachronistic artifacts because building materials were recycled by successions of tight-fisted conquerors, these rich diggings at the heart of the Holy Land are dense, compact, and sweet with promise. Passions run high and devout Millenarianists who count down for the Rapture and Apocalypse keep tabs on the symbolism of it all, complicating matters further.

And when a pro-settler Israeli group funds the digs, while Arab residents fight to keep their homes from being bulldozed to make way for a Biblical theme park fit for tourists on futuristic segways, the tension rises. Time magazine reports the latest.


Izzy Bee said...

from Tims Mag's in-tray, letters to the editor about 'Digging Up Trouble'
Peace Under Siege
Tim McGirk's article, "Digging Up Trouble" was interesting but inflammatory [Feb. 8]. Unless your readers lived under the stressful conditions of daily life in Israel, they cannot really gauge the situation. In spite of what is written in the media, there is much goodwill on both sides and they should be left alone to solve their problems. As McGirk says, the situation is very delicate. We should not pour fuel on the flames.

What Israeli archaeologists and Elad are doing is outrageous. They give themselves the right to demolish Palestinian dwellers' houses and force them to move without authorization and respect for human rights. Acting like this will not bring peace. Why on earth do people do such things in the name of religion? The same blood flows in our veins.
Stephane Leap, PARIS

Read more:,9171,1964640,00.html#ixzz0ibrRaETZ

Izzy Bee said...

see the BBC take

Katya gives all sides