Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

Competitive Archaeology in Jordan: Narrating Identity from the Ottomans to the Hashemites

Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

Competitive Archaeology in Jordan: Narrating Identity from the Ottomans to the Hashemites

Article excerpt

Competitive Archaeology in Jordan: Narrating Identity fr om the Ottomans to the Hashemites. By Elena D. Cor bett. Austin: Un iversity of Texas Pres s, 2014, 2015.312 pp. $40 ($27.95, paper).

At the simplest level, Jordan is a state carved out of the remains of the Ottoman Empire in 1921 at Winston Churchill's urging as a reward to the Hashemite clan of the Arabian Hejaz for its dubious contributions to His Majesty's World War I war efforts. But Jordan is comprised of multiple ethnic groups with no common history with the minority Hashemites controlling all the others. What role, if any, has archaeology played in integrating Jordan and legitimating the Hashemite dynasty?

Corbett, who works in Amman for an international student exchange organization, suggests that archaeological research in Jordan has been characterized by competitions between Western imperialist archaeologists and their indigenous Ottoman counterparts, by British authorities, and finally by Jordanian, Palestinian, and Israeli scholars and diggers. The author does not hide her contempt for imperialism and Zionism, and there are harsh critiques of the British Mandate, its use of archaeology, and specifically of Nelson Glueck, the American rabbi and pioneering explorer of Transjordan. But even she admits that Arab nationalists pondering the same past invented "a narrative that conflated Arabs and Semites, Arabized all ancient peoples with the borders of the broad Arab weitem, [homeland] and . …

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