BETWEEN PAST AND PRESENT: Archaeology, Ideology, and Nationalism in the Modern Middle East by Neil Asher Silberman

BETWEEN PAST AND PRESENT: Archaeology, Ideology, and Nationalism in the Modern Middle East

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Here, Silberman (Digging for God and Country, 1982) takes us on a journey through numerous past and present archaeological digs of seven eastern Mediterranean nations--as diverse as Yugoslavia and North Yemen--detailing the history of each site and what it reveals of the ancient world. He also demonstrates how the view of that world was colored in the past by the attitudes of western gentlemen-archaeologists, and in the present by political and religious considerations of the area's newly risen nation-states. Silberman is eloquent when describing the digs, the archaeologists involved with them, the landscapes that surround them, and what they reveal of the generations of ancient people who lived there. When he deals with the seemingly endlessly changing interpretations of the ancient world, the material is fascinating and frequently confusing. Beleaguered Israel is inspired by the alleged mass suicide, rather than surrender, of the Masada defenders, but ignores lack of on-site evidence of such an event. Muslim nations must balance tourist dollars with Islamic ideology that regards pre-Prophet monuments and artifacts as ""idolatrous."" Egypt has removed all mummies from its Cairo Museum, yet the Egyptian Antiquities Organization continues to excavate ever-new tourist attractions. A potpourri, with much of interest to Mideast and archaeological scholars, as well as to tourists and armchair Indiana Joneses.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1989
Publisher: Henry Holt