near eastern archaeologists

Looks like there’s some rain in the forecast for this Memorial Day weekend. It’s like I always say; what better way to spend a rainy weekend than reading online articles about the lives of the founders of Near Eastern Archaeology?

Okay, I’ve never said that. But if you find the above contention strangely compelling anyway, you might check out these links.

Many of the early Near Eastern archaeologists were characters, to say the least. You’ve no doubt heard of T.E. Lawrence aka Lawrence of Arabia, but you may not have heard as much about his archaeological pursuits. You can also find links to what must be everything you’d ever need to know about him here.

You may not have heard of one of his associates, Gertrude Bell, a very forceful-sounding lady who not only interested herself in Near Eastern archaeology, but was an important player in the politics of the region around the time of World War I. The Gertrude Bell Project is making her writings and photos available online.

Somewhat more staid and scholarly than the above was William Foxwell Albright, who played a major role in forming the aims and methodology of the discipline of Biblical Archaeology. An interesting article about him may be found here, and a couple of interesting quotes from him regarding the significance of Palestine and the Bible here and here.

An interesting perspective on Near Eastern Archaeology may be found, of all places, in the works of mystery writer Agatha Christie. Her second marriage was to archaeologist Max Mallowan, who excavated at Nimrud and elsewhere. Agatha accompanied Max on his excavations, and wrote about archaeology and archaeologists in her autobiography and her book Come, Tell Me How You Live, neither of which seem to be especially easy to come by, unfortunately. She set a few mysteries in the ancient and modern Near East as well, including Death Comes As the End and They Came to Baghdad.

Either of which would make excellent rainy weekend reading, in my opinion, even if we’ve strayed rather far from history per se.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend!

“to the brave belong all things”

Say what you will about the Celts, they certainly did get around. If you’d like to have a bit more to say about them than you currently do, check out the following links.

This essay tells you about the Celts’ entrance into history as a group of barbarians who were apparently well-versed in Roman law, and takes you as far as the medieval Irish and Scotch Celts. It also explains why the eponymous basketball team is pronounced with an S sound–who knew it wasn’t an Ignorant Americanism? Here are some anthropological-type details about the social organization and religion of the Irish and British Celts as they ran up against the Romans and other marauders, along with some info about the German connection.

You might also check out this site, designed as an interactive site about the British Celts for children. However, with all the dead bodies and talk of human sacrifice, I’d think it would be rather scary for kids, and my browser doesn’t seem to like it much either.

History and the Bible

There are many annoying things about history, and for me, one of them is the debate over “biblical minimalism”: the argument that the Old Testament Bible is not a useful historical source, because it was written more or less de novo in the Hellenistic period. Despite the fact that more “mainstream” scholars reject this argument as absurd, too much ink, breath, and healthy blood pressure levels have been sacrificed over it.

I just started reading a book called The First Historians: The Hebrew Bible and History and found a fun online interview with its author, Baruch Halpern, who might be considered one of the main anti-minimalits. A rebuttal to Halpern’s arguments and an outline of the “minimalist program” can be found in this essay by Philip Davies.

Women & Gender in the Ancient World

I found this the other day. I haven’t had a comprehensive look through it yet, but looks like quite a plethora of info on women (and other folks) in the classical world and in Biblical times.

Which version of WW2?

Here’s an interesting article on the many different versions of World War II that sprang up in the war’s aftermath.