Friday, July 22, 2011

Palestinian Arabs using archaeology "to rewrite history"

AP has an article on an archaeological dig in Shechem (Nablus):
Archaeologists unearthing a biblical ruin inside a Palestinian city in the West Bank are writing the latest chapter in a 100-year-old excavation that has been interrupted by two world wars and numerous rounds of Mideast upheaval.

Working on an urban lot that long served residents of Nablus as an unofficial dump for garbage and old car parts, Dutch and Palestinian archaeologists are learning more about the ancient city of Shekhem, and are preparing to open the site to the public as an archaeological park next year.

The project, carried out under the auspices of the Palestinian Department of Antiquities, also aims to introduce the Palestinians of Nablus, who have been beset for much of the past decade by bloodshed and isolation, to the wealth of antiquities in the middle of their city.
Then comes the good part:
In Israel, archaeology, and especially biblical archaeology, has long been a hallowed national pursuit traditionally focused on uncovering the depth of Jewish roots in the land. For the Palestinians, whose Department of Antiquities was founded only 15 years ago, the dig demonstrates a growing interest in uncovering the ancient past.

The department now has 130 workers and carries out several dozen rescue excavations every year on the sites of planned building projects in areas administered by the Palestinian Authority, said Hamdan Taha, the department's director. Ten ongoing research excavations are being conducted with foreign cooperation.

All of the periods in local history, including that of the biblical Israelites, are part of Palestinian history, Taha said.
"Palestinian history" predates "Palestinians?" How can it be considered "Palestinian history" if the residents of the lands were not related to today's Palestinian Arabs? Do Jews claim that uncovering pre-Biblical treasures is part of the history of Israel? It's important, to be sure, but Israeli archaeology - despite the claims of its detractors - is populated by people who are dedicated to uncovering the truth, whether it seems to support or  go against the biblical narrative. To call any ancient findings "Palestinian history" is to grotesquely mangle the meaning of the word.

This is an obvious attempt to minimize real history, and especially Jewish history, in the land and instead push a narrative of an ancient "Palestinian people" who never existed.

But don't take my word for it:
Digs like the one in Nablus, he said, "give Palestinians the opportunity to participate in writing or rewriting the history of Palestine from its primary sources."
Ah, archaeology gives today's Palestinian Arabs the opportunity to rewrite history. Got it.

(h/t Dan)