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A Tradition of Looking Behind the Curtain
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 Post subject: Mideast archaeology
PostPosted: Mon Jun 24, 2013 11:53 am 

Joined: Fri Apr 04, 2008 10:45 am
Posts: 8222
And politics.

Makes me think of some of the controversies regarding Korean migration to Japan in prehistoric times.

 Post subject: Re: Mideast archaeology
PostPosted: Mon Jun 24, 2013 2:19 pm 
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Joined: Fri Apr 04, 2008 10:48 am
Posts: 4317
Location: Broomfield, Colorado
The interaction of religion and politics and archaeology in Israel/Palestine is indeed fascinating.

Literalists, whether Jewish, Muslim, or Christian, all accept the existence of the United Monarchy, a kingdom ruled by David, then Solomon, that included modern Israel plus considerable chunks of surrounding countries. It's in the Old Testament and the Koran.

Extreme Jewish literalists have claimed that Israel should expand to its "true" borders, which are the borders of the United Monarchy, which, after all, were given by God.

Muslim groups agree that there was a United Monarchy, but assert that David and Solomon were not Jews but Muslims - since they are mentioned as prophets in the Koran, they must be. Hence any territorial claims by the current state of Israel are fallacious; there was never a "Jewish" state in Palestine.

Secular archaeologists haven't been able to find any trace of the United Monarchy. Neither David nor Solomon is mentioned in any contemporary records of Egypt, Assyria or Phoenicia (there's a thing called the Tell Dan Ostraca, but it's not contemporary, and its interpretation and authenticity are disputed).

The Israeli government has been trying to keep things quiet, with limited success. Fundamentalists on both sides have accused the Israeli government (and sometimes the Palestinian Authority, and sometimes both in connivance) of deliberately destroying archaeological evidence for the United Monarchy.

The "pillar" seems a case in point. The article doesn't provide any reason why it's supposed to be dated to the United Monarchy. Things like this have been happening ever since the area was opened to archaeologists in the middle of the 19th century; reports would appear in the popular press that "David's Palace" or "Solomon's Stables" had been discovered. After the dust settled it would turn out that the site was actually a Bronze Age Egyptian fortress or a Canaanite temple or something similar.

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