ARCHEOLOGY: THE UNREPEATABLE EXPERIMENT

ANDREW PETERSEN

26 April 2018, 7 PM - 8 PM

In most of the world, archaeology is regarded as a reliable method for understanding and visualising aspects of the human past. Although archaeology does not have the status of hard sciences such as physics, chemistry and biology, it is nevertheless regarded by most practitioners as a scientific discipline based on empirical data and subject to deductive reasoning.

In the case of Palestine, the Zionists soon realised the potential of archaeology to provide tangible ‘proof’ of a historical Jewish presence. The main problem with this methodology is that archaeology is not used to reconstruct past events but is simply used to confirm or illustrate a ready-made narrative which is independent of any evidence to the contrary. This is a violation of scientific method and as such negates the central function of archaeology which is to discover the truth. Within Zionist traditions archaeology also has another function which is to physically take possession of the land from its previous owners. Many of the famous Biblical sites are former Palestinian villages which were levelled and then systematically erased through the removal of the upper layers to get to the earlier remains.

The result is that the Palestinians are not only removed from their villages in the present but also excluded from their own past. The evidence is gone, and the experiment cannot be repeated.

Andrew Petersen is visiting Alfred Howell Professor at the American University of Beirut and Director of Research in Islamic archaeology at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David. He has travelled extensively in the Middle East working on archaeological expeditions and later directing projects, and has written a large number of articles and published four books based on his research. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and Member of the Chartered Institute for Archaeology.

This talk is supported by the Center for Arts and Humanities at the American University of Beirut.

Language: English | Location: Auditorium, Second Floor

Open to the Public | Limited Seats

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