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Book: Community Archaeology in Israel/Palestine

Chapter: Archaeological Communities in the Shadow of Dividedness: Impressions from Israeli and Palestinian Scholars

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.44990


In Israel/Palestine, the use of biblical texts as a template for archaeological excavations and reconstruction of history has been controversial. It has played a role in the delineation of the borders of Israeli and Palestinian territories as far as writing of a joint history is concerned, as well as reinforcing paradigmatic rigidity in historical interpretation. Thus, there exists an uneasy relationship amongst archaeologists, as well as between them and the general public, with regard to perceived biases in archaeology, often with the archaeologist caught in the middle of a nationalistic debate. This situation is divisive and stands in the way of a more inclusive archaeology for the region. To address this impasse and its negative externalities, the views of independent members of the archaeological community working in the region, need to be heard. This paper focuses on a series of interviews held by the author with archaeologists based in Israel/Palestine. The interviews have led me to conclude that engagement with biblical archaeology in the region, for both archaeologists and the general public, is in the process of flux, but in some cases is still biased and exclusive. It reveals to what extent economics, politics and religion have contributed to an impasse in achieving a shared history of the region.

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