In a post a couple of weeks ago after watching a documentary on the Discovery Channel concerning the find of a new “tomb” in the Valley of the Kings I stated that one must be suspicious of giddy national antiquities directors. I also stated that there are definitely more archaeological finds to be had–both in Egypt and elsewhere.
I don’t know if the reporters or editors of the New York Times read awilum.com, but they might as well have considering the story that ran today. They expose even more giddy and prima donna-like behavior of Egypt’s “chief egyptologist.” This “chief egyptologist” seems to be spending more effort arranging press conferences and spinning unlikely, but spectacular, theories concerning the new find in the Valley of the Kings than composing thoughtful theories that respect the evidence at hand. While the chief egyptologist is propounding his theory that the tomb housed king Tut’s mother, the archaeologists that made the discovery are quietly distancing themselves from this
publicity stunt theory.
I don’t have a problem with promoting archaeological finds and making them exciting and accessible to the public. I also don’t have a problem with aggressively promoting finds so that people will come visit them. It will help Egypt’s economy and it will hopefully cause more people to be interested in ancient Near Eastern studies–all good things. But, as we do these things, we should not play fast and loose with the data to manufacture an unlikely story just to increase tourist revenue. Instead, we need to lay out the data–all of the data–and then make a thoughtful and careful hypothesis that will be open to peer review and debate. Afterall, archaeology and the scientific endeavor is (or should be) about truth seeking. Increasing tourist revenue and popular support can be woven into this task, but the goal of an accurate historical reconstruction should not sacrificed in order to cause a momentary spike in tourist revenue or the career path of a particular “egyptologist.”
So, this bears repeating: don’t trust the uber-exuberant “chief archaeologist” and don’t be surprised when the facts are overlooked for the sake of a spectacular story when the next great discovery is unearthed.
What do you think?
June 26, 4154 (Reuters, AP, & Al Jazeera Joint Ventures) Winona Lake, Indiana–
The archaeological find of the century was discovered today in Winona Lake, Indiana. Apparently in the early third millenium or late second millenium AD there was a thriving Akkadian culture in Indiana. A cache of pottery sherds, all with the opening two lines of Enuma Elish were uncovered. Archaeologists from Indiana University assert that this is finally the definitive proof that an enclave of people devoted to ancient Near East studies lived in Winona Lake, while archaeologists from Tell Aviv University and the University of Copenhagen state that there never was a group of ANE devotees in the third millenium. Instead, ANE studies flourished in the mid fourth millenium and this interest was retrojected back onto the early third millenium in order to give fourth millenium scholars more prestige.
Since a team of archaeologists from Uganda discovered the find, the pottery sherds will be housed in the National Museum of Uganda over the objections of the United States State Department. The U.S. President said that she was amazed by this brazen “state-sponsored act of looting” undertaken by the Ugandan government. She stated further that the Ugandan government has weeks and not months to return the objects to the care of the U.S. government. Furthermore, the Ugandan government turned down a reported $1.7 billion dollar offer from the J.P. Getty Museum for the sherds as they are trying to rebuild their holdings after a collection of iPods were shown to be forgeries.
If you read awilum.com on your RSS reader, please note that I have added my del.icio.us tags in the sidebar. The format (most oftenly used tags are larger than lesser used tags) is interesting in that it gives a somewhat objective picture of my interests in regard to the sites that I think are relevant to this blog. Enjoy.
I’ve been fooling around with ProfCast a bit and I must say– I LOVE IT. If you have a Mac and you make multimedia presentations, YOU NEED TO BUY PROFCAST. Wow, you don’t get much better of an endorsment than that (I don’t normally shamelessly push products, but this one will really help your teaching).
ProfCast is very easy to use. You just compose your presentation in Keynote (PowerPoint will also work if you really love uninspiring presentations that lock up on you) and drop it into ProfCast. Then, press record and you’re off to the races. At the conclusion of your presentation, ProfCast will open a wizard that will lead you through the podcast formatting process. I would post an example of my tests, but my built in microphone is next to useless, so as soon as I purchase a better mic I’ll upload a presentation.
I was scrolling through my RSS feeds and I found one of the most helpful reviews I have seen in a long time.Â Cole Camplese describes his experience with ProfCast, a program that records your lectures into a format for podcasting.
You might think that any old microphone hooked up to your computer could do that, but with ProfCast, you can sync your slides from Keynote (please don’t tell me that you use PowerPoint) to the audio from your lecture real time.Â Therefore, those who download your podcast can follow your presentation both audibly and visually.
I went to the ProfCast website and from what they say, it’s pretty easy to use.Â I went ahead and bought it, it’s only $35, and I will test it myself and report here how it works.Â Furthermore, I will make a new page and will upload the podcasts so that you can see the final product.
In short, this seems like an incredibly useful too.Â But, it only works with a Mac.Â Sorry all you PC users, but this is reason 1,346,782 to make the switch.
(By the way, if you are interested in podcasting your lectures for your class or others to see but don’t have a website, my friend David Esrati at blogosopher is the guy who can set you up and put you at the top of Google.)
Do you have a blog to which you want to funnel more traffic? Check out Seth Godin’s post concerning 54 tips on how to get more traffic for your blog.
Me after the book tables.
I know that we still have a few months to go until the SBL conference, but why not start planning your packing strategy? Afterall, you have to figure out how to lug all those books home. Also, this is the summer, and many of us will be heading out on family vacations. So, here are some packing tips for all those who end up shoving way too much stuff into carry-ons so that there is no room for newly purchased books.
Responsible interpretation requires imagination.Â I understand that imagination makes serious Calvinists nervous because it smacks of the subjective freedom to carry the text in undeveloped directions and to engage in fantasy.Â But I would insist that imagination is in any case inevitable in any interpretive process that is more than simple reiteration, and that faithful imagination is characteristically not autonomous fantasy but good-faith extrapolation.Â I understand imagination, no doubt a complex epistemological process, to be the capacity to entertain images of meaning and reality that are beyond the givens of observable experience.Â That is, imagination is the hosting of “otherwise,” and I submit that every serious teacher or preacher invites people to an “otherwise” beyond the event.Â Without that we have nothing to say.Â We take risks and act daringly to push beyond what is known to that which is hoped for and trusted by not yet in hand.
–Christian Century, January 3-10, 2001, page 16.
The New York Times reports on a topic that has been circulating among archaeologists for the past two years and that appears in BAR.Â Here is a quote from the article that explains the debate:
Chronology is at the crux of the debate. Exactly when did the nomadic tribes of Edom become an organized society with the might to threaten Israel? Were David and Solomon really kings of a state with growing power in the 10th century B.C.? Had writers of the Bible magnified the stature of the two societies at such an early time in history?
An international team of archaeologists has recorded radiocarbon dates that they say show the tribes of Edom may have indeed come together in a cohesive society as early as the 12th century B.C., certainly by the 10th. The evidence was found in the ruins of a large copper-processing center and fortress at Khirbat en-Nahas, in the lowlands of what was Edom and is now part of Jordan.
What do you think about this debate?Â Do you think high and low chronology discussions are worthwile?Â Does this discovery add something significant to this debate?