Dienstag, 8. März 2016

An exemplary mission for Archaeology

by Constanze Röhl

Archaeology can serve as a means of ’social activism at its best’, as it was proven in a recent project which took place in Ein Lamur close to Abu Ghosh.

A community dig - which can be found documented in a short video on ’Ein Lamur / Ein Limon - עין לימון /עין למור’ - headed by Gideon Sulymani of Emek Shaveh served to highlight the benefits of archaeological work for contemporary society. 

(Hebrew with English subtitles - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPNSjoBmxSw).

Emek Shaveh is
’... an organization of archaeologists and community activists focusing on the role of archaeology in Israeli society and in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We view archaeology as a resource for building bridges and strengthening bonds between different peoples and cultures, and we see it as an important factor impacting the dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Our fundamental position is that an archaeological find should not and cannot be used to prove ownership by any one nation, ethnic group or religion over a given place. We believe that the archaeological find tells a complex story which is independent of religious dictates or traditional stories, and that listening to this story and bringing it to the wider public can enrich culture and promote values of tolerance and pluralism.’ (http://alt-arch.org/en/about-us/)

Following this notion of the discipline, G. Sulymani explains the very understandable intial concerns prevalent in the local community - in particular the fear of an instrumentalisation and the misuse of archaeological results in order to corroborate political issues - before the project successfully took place with the participation of the inhabitants of the local Israeli Arab village of Ein Rafa.

Indirectly, two further vital contemporary socio-political problems are being adressed in this short documentary. Simply via the choice of site and its connection to questions of water management in antiquity, the in particular nowadays important environmental aspect is given food for thought.

Furthermore, in a very unobtrusive manner - via the choice of footage - a positive perspective on intercultural relations is present as well.
Israelisch-arabische Grabungen in Ein Lamur
(mit freundl. Genehmigung von Emek Shaveh)

Ala Barhoom als Vertreter der lokalen Gemeinde und der israelische Archäologe Gideon Sulymani erklären gemeinsam arabischen Kindern die Grabungen in Ein Lamur
(mit freundl. Genehmigung von Emek Shaveh)

Projects like this bridge the gap to the present, and showcase the potential for immediate benefits in modern society which can be gained from the past via the discipline of Archaeology; true to the below stated Archaeological Principles Emek Shaveh stands for.

Emek Shaveh: Archaeology – Outline of Principles (http://alt-arch.org/en/about-us/)

1. We believe that archaeology can and should be used to promote understanding, not conflict.  Archaeology can further the peace of Jerusalem.

2. Our archaeology provides a rich tapestry of the lives of people in Jerusalem, allowing everyone to find their own links to the past.

3. Our archaeology is not text-bound or selective: it serves to tell an inclusive and independent story of human existence, culture, and achievement.

4. We do not assign different values to different cultures: all strata contribute to an understanding of Jerusalem’s history on equal terms.

5. It is not our business to establish links between modern ethnic identities (e.g., Palestinians, Israelis, or Europeans) and ancient ones (e.g., Judeans, Canaanites, or Crusaders). We do not use archaeology to prove precedence.

6. Since archaeology provides an independent view of human and social origins, it is inherently critical of all historical narratives.

7. Where archaeological and textual narratives overlap, each serves to illuminate the other: both are interpretive, neither has absolute truth-value.

8. Since archaeologists appropriate public property, the use they make of this property must be justified, particularly to the public whose property was appropriated.


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