Posts Tagged ‘Archeology’

Photo Credit: AFP

Photo Credit: AFP

Archeology has long been an interest of mine, and if my life had gone according to plans made when I was about nine I would have spent a good deal of time digging around places like the Olduvai Gorge, doing my utmost to follow Mary Leakey’s immense footsteps, or looking for the roots of Quetzalcoatl at Tenochtitlan.

Of course, it turns out that John Lennon was right … life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans … but the physical evidence of history continues to fascinate me.

This story demanded my attention today, and set me toward a mental meander I’ve been wandering for hours.

A 3,700-year-old wall has been discovered in east Jerusalem, Israeli archaeologists say.

The structure was built to protect the city’s water supply as part of what dig director Ronny Reich described as the region’s earliest fortifications.

The 26-ft (8-m) high wall showed the Canaanite people who built it were a sophisticated civilisation, he said.

I’ll completely ignore the mention of the fact that the guy in charge of the dig has the surname “Reich” and move along to the more salient points, one being the stunningly naive statement attributed to him about the wall showing “… the Canaanite people who built it were a sophisticated civilization” that I’m hoping was an under-educated reporter’s version and not words actually uttered by an archeologist.

Considering that the Canaanites came up with the alphabet … their city of Byblos was the inspiration for the Greek word for book and hence Bible … figured out how to navigate and set up major ports and trading posts from Britain to Africa shipping and selling everything from salt to wine to ebony, started the first lending institutions, and had a system of government that included legal rights for women that allowed them to sue, invest and even adopt children, a wall that managed to stick around for almost 4,000 years seems superfluous to need when it comes to defining “sophisticated civilization”.

Even slaves … and everyone had slaves in those days … got a fair shake:

As was commonplace in the ancient days, there were slaves, but laws protected them from mistreatment and authorized payment to them in redress of grievances. They could earn their own money, purchasing property and eventually their own freedom. A freed slave could reach high office.

Let’s also not forget that the Canaanites were named for the color purple …Kinakhu: the purple people .. since they were the only source for the die that indicates royalty to this day.

Jump ahead 3,700 years … Shall we? … and take a gander at our modern world and the progress humankind has made in almost 4 millennia. We could start with the fact that the method of making purple from sea snails is a long-lost art, then move along to the mess the Middle East is so well known for these days, as witnessed by reaction to the discovery of this old wall:

Critics say Israel uses such projects as a political tool to bolster Jewish claims to occupied Palestinian land.

Perhaps if ancient walls could talk we’d learn a lesson or two. If nothing else, maybe we’d rethink our arrogance, our perpetual self-congratulatory back patting over our advancements, our short-sighted claims of enlightenment, and realize that we’ve not come a long way, Baby, at all.

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