Book: Framing Archaeology in the Near East
Chapter: Biblical Archaeology, Processualism, Post-Processualism and Beyond
Archaeology rise in the southern Levant strongly related to Biblical studies and religious-political interests that accompanied the European presence in the Orient. During the first half of the 20th century, archaeology was intensely developed as a scientific discipline though Biblical bias still existed among researchers. A short evaluation of Biblical Archaeology is offered here integrating also the historical context in which this discipline rose and flourished. Archaeology in Israel was utilized as a means of unifying or creating “national” myths which connect the past with the present. Over the years, new archaeological streams influenced Israeli and other researchers working in the southern Levant, mostly related with the Processualist currents emerging in America. In the 1960s these currents put the accent more on economic, social and technological aspects of archaeology than on the traditional political aspects related to Biblical studies. The social and political developments in Israel and the Middle East in the 1990s were the framework of Post-processualist viewpoints, related mostly with European tendencies attested in the archaeology of these countries. The main accent here was put on the importance of human ideas and initiatives in the social developments and to a lesser degree on technology or the ecological characteristics of ancient societies. In the archaeology of Israel questions of identities, gender and control were registered in the archaeological research. Other archaeological practices such as “communal archaeology” also appear on the archaeological horizon. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict greatly influenced that horizon as well. The goal of this paper is to analyze these developments in the framework of the history of the region.