Sunday, September 02, 2007

The War To Rescue "Biblical" Archaeology

Following Jim West’s recommendation on his blog some time ago, I listened to Eric Cline’s interview with the Chronicle of Higher Education. Dr. Cline is Chair of the Department of Classical and Semitic Languages and Literature at George Washington University and has written several books on the subject of biblical archaeology. After listening to the interview I immediately ordered his new book, From Eden to Exile, and started reading through it this week.

In the introduction, Cline clearly spells out a dilemma facing serious scholars of biblical archaeology today. The field of biblical archaeology, at least as its results are presented to the general public, has been largely confiscated by charlatans with little or no training in archaeology (or serious scholarship in general) and yet who present their views as “scientific”:

While doing the research for this book, I became amazed and, frankly, appalled by the amount of pseudoscientific nonsense that has been published on these topics, especially on the Internet but also in book form. The vast majority of this work has not been produced by professional scholars but rather by amateur enthusiasts…These enthusiasts…all work outside of academia. As such, they are not held to the same standards of rigor, peer review, and scrutiny as professional scholars employed by colleges, universities, and other institutions of higher learning.

Cline is, of course, referring to the usual array of the intellectually vacuous who appear to speak authoritatively on the subject of biblical archaeology, but who in reality have not the foggiest clue about the nature of archaeological research: the Ron Wyatts and Bob Cornukes of the world, for example. But there is a continuum of problem enthusiasts here, some not as extremely ignorant, who nonetheless uncritically use archaeological data to advance their proselytizing efforts:

Some biblical maximalists – particularly those working outside of mainstream academia – seem to be closer to the enthusiasts in setting out with their own a priori set of assumptions, which are often stated outright in the mission or message statements on their Web sites. Others dilute their good and careful analysis of archaeological material and ancient literary sources with uncritical thinking or blatant proselytizing. In addition, both the maximalist and minimalist camps harbor individuals who abuse and occasionally distort the information.

It is refreshing to finally hear a professional archaeologist recognize the fact that spokesperson responsibility for the serious discipline of “biblical” archaeology has to be rescued from the public malfeasance that typically passes for legitimate commentary these days (I continue to use quotations around “biblical” only because I personally prefer the term Syro-Palestinian archaeology). This includes the local minister providing uncritical “archaeology proves the bible” assessments as equally as the crackpot Noah’s Ark investigators or creationists masquerading as archaeologists. Cline intends to raise the needed alarm:

Thus, one of the reasons I have written this book is to sound both a word of warning and a call to arms, because I believe that the general public deserves-and wants-better. It is high time that professional archaeologists, ancient historians, and mainstream biblical scholars take back their fields from the amateur enthusiasts, psuedoscientists, uninformed documentary filmmakers, and overzealous biblical maximalists and minimalists who have had, for the most part, free reign to do what they wish, without any regard to scientific method or an unbiased investigation for the truth.

Forgive my over-generalizing passion for this, but it is about time the battle cry was sounded. Archaeological science has been polluted by those Cline describes and we professional archaeologists should start being blunt (and public!) about the danger posed by both charlatans and proselytizers. Some of you know I have fought my own battles here in Lassen County with a local media willing to portray ignorance as science and I am pleased that the call for a rigorous defense of archaeological integrity is being made internationally. I look forward to continuing with Dr. Cline’s book. I am sure it is just the first salvo in the upcoming war to reclaim archaeology.

UPDATE: My apologies to Jim West - if I had been paying a little closer attention I would have realized he commented on some of the very same issues in an initial assessment of Clines book way back in May. Whoops...I'm just excited about the book!


Anonymous said...

"The War To Rescue "Biblical" Archaeology" is critically important as it relates to common human origins, migrations, first communities or real global villages and inheritance. The same war is also being faught at another front:
Blackhole Lies

There Was Never Any Biblical Jerusalem Ever in Israel/Palestine-Never Since The Creation of This Planet. However, it can be anywhere else.

All historically recorded geographical information contradicts locating that forgotten Biblical place anywhere in todays Israel/Palestine area.

"Egyptian Aristeas writes in a letter, letter of aristreas, his view of the city and its temple" when we approached near the site we saw the city built in the midst of whole of the jews, upon a hill which extended to a great height. On the top of the hill the Temple had been constructed, towering above all" image of a city on a mount.

"Less known is the gap between this image and the actual physical-topographical situation in the city " Jerusalem, mountains surrounding it" Psamist poem 125:2 , but the city and the Temple are actually located on one of the more unassuming ridges in the area, which by no stretch of imagination can be seen as a lofty mountain."

God's Mountain: The Temple Mount in Time, Place, and Memory, by Yaron Z. Eliav. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, p1-2, 2005.

This Place was called Aelia when Muslims took it in 7th century AD

All historical records from time immamorial to the begining of crusades called it Aelia. This small town was not considered important by Byzantine Constantinople or other big surrounding Roman cities for sending troops to help Aelia against Muslims. There was no shred of evidence that christians in surrounding areas or in ANY PART OF THE WORLD ever protested later for hundreds of years against unholy occupation by Muslims of their Holy Land . No church sermon mentioned that some fake Holy Place of a Mythical Christ has come under pagan occupation.

Visitors from Palestine to Europe Did not Report Any Jerusalem Till 1074 AD, Why?

Yes even for inciting people at the beginining of crusades, this location was not mentioned by anyone.

Gregory VII: Called for a "Crusade", in 1074 long before the first cusade but did not mention Jerusalem, Why?

The crying need for crusades was only:
" that a pagan race(Muslims) had overcome the Christians(in the near east) and with horrible cruelty had devastated everything almost to the walls of Constantinople, and were now governing the conquered lands with tyrannical violence, and that they had slain many thousands of Christians"

"The Crusades were the long-term result of the rise of Islam."

Elizabeth Hallam, Chronicles of the Crusades, Publisher: Welcome Rain, New York, New York, U.S.A., Year 2000.

Scholars: Israel Finkelstein, Neil Asher Silberman Thomas L. Thompson, Kamal Salibi and their fast growing associates deny any existance of any Biblical city called Jerusalem in Palestine ever in the history. They point to the complete absence of any Archeological and textual evidance for Biblical Jerusalem in Palestine despite hundred and fifty years of most intensive research.

"Digging in Jerusalem has failed to produce evidence that it was a great city in David or Solomon's time. Thus a reconsideration of the evidence has enormous implications. For if there were no patriarchs, no Exodus, no conquest of Canaan- and no prospous united monarchy under David and Solomon- can we say that early biblical Israel, as described in the Five Books of Moses and the books of Joshua, Judges, and Samuel, ever existed at all?"

The Bible Unearthed: Archeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of its Sacred Texts, page 124, by Israel Finelstein and Neil Asher Silberman

No one with right senses and open eyes can believe in the story, that is almost unanimously presented by all blind religions, that a whole capital city at the center of the worlds greatest civilisation of its age can be lost, without a trace under a known location, like a needle in the hay stack?

Location of Biblical Jerusalem was invented to fool christians for Jihad missions to the Near East during crusades. Thus Biblical Jerusalem was founded in Palestine during crusades in the eleventh century. All stories of its destruction by Romans were mythologized later. The works like Dead Sea Scrolls, the New Testament, the Septuagint and literature of the great scolars of the past Josephus, Philo, do not relate anything about any location with a geography similar to Aelia. In fact pre-crusade scholars like Maimonides, Rashi etc never talk about Aelia or a Jerusalem buried under it. Rather they discuss about a Jerusalem which is going to be decended from heavens sometime in future.

It was the crusading church that began calling Aelia their dream come true Jerusalem only as a propaganda tectic to sustain and grow their crusadic enterprise. It is ironic to see that muslims and other residents of Aelia had to call for their help and little seem coming from other muslim kingdoms. They resorted to the method invented by the church to incite other muslims to help liberate their land. Thus they started propagating an invented history of the virtues of their town as Bait ul Muqqadas and their mosques as Masjid ul Aqsa. The wars continued for long churning out a very large amount of battleground songs, stories and fabricated history. Nationalistic patriotic and petty-religious concerns were put above than sticking to truths. ... This was a real bad war.

However then the war ended but the thick dust of invented stories covered all facts of history. Muslim civilisation continued to decline and European never rose above their Euoro-christio-judaic-centric interests to see the world as it is in reality a global human village. The inability of European scholars to see beyond Euoro-christio-judaism is evident from their utter failure to trace origin of Rome that is consistent with the well attested large body of knowledge about global human migrations. So there was no one who can challenge a Jerusalem mythmaker.

During crusades the Church Invented a new religion with a new world history - Mythic Cities Were Unearthed..
So We Opened Our Eyes When A Great Theator of Literature Drama of Biblical Jerusalem Stories was in Full Swing...
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