Archaeology under Fire: Nationalism, Politics and Heritage in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East

Archaeology under Fire: Nationalism, Politics and Heritage in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East

Archaeology under Fire: Nationalism, Politics and Heritage in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East

Archaeology under Fire: Nationalism, Politics and Heritage in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East

Synopsis

The Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean are one of the most politically charged regions in which archaeology is implicated. Historically, they played a formative role in the birth of archaeology as a discipline. Archaeology Under Fire addresses archaeology's role in current political issues, as in the ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, the division of Cyprus, or the continued destruction of Beirut. The contributors consider the positive role of the past, as a means of reconciliation, whether it be in Turkey, Israel, or the Gulf. They advocate a responsible global archaeology and an awareness of contemporary issues which can only enhance this aim.

Excerpt

Lynn Meskell

When the British Army of Occupation marched into Egypt in 1882, that country most unexpectedly became the object of thought of every intelligent thinker in Europe and of every English-speaking nation throughout the world. The diplomat, the soldier and the politician each looked upon Egypt with a practical eye, and meditated what advantage could be got from it for the country which he represented… But others besides the practical men were interested in the opening up of Egypt by the British—we mean the student of general history and the archaeologist, not to mention the expert Egyptologist …who flocked to Egypt demanded with no uncertain voice that all the available information on the subject should be given to them.

(Illustrated London News, 7 March 1896, accompanying coverage of de Morgan’s discoveries at Dahshur)

We know the civilisation of Egypt better than we know the civilisation of any other country. We know it further back; we know it more intimately; we know more about it. It goes far beyond the petty span of the history of our race, which is lost in the prehistoric period at a time when the Egyptian civilisation had already passed its prime.

(Arthur James Balfour, addressing the House of Commons on the necessity for England being in Egypt)

During the 1990s a burgeoning corpus of literature has arisen devoted specifically to ethnicity, nationalism, cultural identity and politics, as they impact on our own field of archaeology. The majority of these volumes deal with issues of nationalism and constructions of identity in times past (Díaz-Andreu and Champion 1996;

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