Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Book Review: Between Past and Present - Archaeology, Ideology, and Nationalism in the Modern Middle East

Archaeology is a very political science. Not only are egos running all academic institutions (these egos fight each other to defend the honor of various theories) but politics gets in the game. Questions like who were the first Americans, were white people in New Zealand before Cook, and almost anything to do with Biblical archeology rile passion and politics. Ancient dead people can give living people either legitimacy to the land or prove them as impostors who conquered the territory from actual natives.

Neil Asher Silberman's out of print Between Past and Present: Archaeology, Ideology, and Nationalism in the Modern Middle East is a quick-and-easy introduction various geopolitical archaeological battles ranging from Macedonia to Yemen. Silberman made the various chapters independent of one another so it is easy to pick the book up at your country of interest and just read. The author uses first-person as he recreates his travels to the various archaeological sites and discusses the messages the various interest parties try to convey. Readers deeply familiar with the various controversies covered will learn nothing new; however, those relatively new to the subjects or those who want a light read will surely enjoy Between Past and Present.

1 comment:

Dan tdaxp said...

Recently I read East of the Sun, a history of Siberia, which has some interesting tidbits wrt lost exploration. An official expedition to Siberia, which succeeded in discovering Bering's straight 100+ years before Bering, was forgotten about, requiring Russia to send an entirely new expedition 150 or so years later. This in spite of written records that were kept in Moscow!

Likewise, another early expedition to a peninsula in the Arctic Sea discovered the remains of a Cosack village, including crosses, icons, and so on.