Friday, November 05, 2004

Digging Into Jericho

Trying to map out an Iron Age biblical city scholars can't agree even existed at the time makes me wish I could go back to 1952 and kick Dame Kathleen Kenyon (universally acknowledged Jericho authority) in the shin, really hard. I can't rely on Garstang or Warren, and there were so many things she could have written about Jericho to settle this stuff. She was there, she dug it up. Instead, she chose not to organize her notes and write about her discoveries while dumping Iron Age pottery in her estate's pond to make a nice island for her ducks and smoking and drinking herself to death.

There are a lot of private, religion-related agendas among the academics, so you have to wade through them to get hard data, too. Some are devout Christians and Jews intent on proving the story of the Exodus; others want to discredit the Exodus and call the Hebrews a lot of displaced wandering goat herders who got uppity. You almost have to read a biography of the author writing the research book before you can trust what's in it -- and what isn't.

Kenyon seemed to be the most unbiased, scientific mind of the bunch, but she was criminally negligent with her findings, wrote next to nothing about them, and died before straightening out the whole mess. The time, circumstances and actuality of the fall of Jericho remains a big question mark.

Me, all I want is a map. I'll use my best guess and make up the rest.

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