Egyptology as structural violence?

This paper argues that the discipline of Egyptology, as it currently exists, unknowingly occupies a neo-colonial position, a position which has occurred as a result of a specific historical trajectory of disciplinary development tied to state elites. Moreover, this position does not simply result in a situation where Western Egyptologists dominate their Egyptian counterparts. Rather, all are unknowingly implicated in perpetuating the position, raising difficult questions for anyone wishing to understand the nature of exclusionary discourses.

The paper concentrates on the career of Walter Bryan Emery (1903-1971), former Edwards Professor of Egyptology at University College London and, prior to that, long-time employee of the government-controlled Egyptian Antiquities Service. Through a critical biography of Emery – utilising his publications and his private correspondence, amongst others – the colonial basis of Egyptology can be illustrated as developing through specific networks and institutions until the present day, sustaining a body of thought which, through its circular reasoning, sets off Egypt both as inferior to the West and, ironically, as part of its development. Egyptologists have, in the sense of Abu el-Haj, consistently created Facts on the Ground. This paper will show how and, by extension, demonstrate why this situation must cease.

William Carruthers
Institute of Archaeology
University College London


Decolonising Islamic Archaeology

The formation of Islamic archaeology has been a revisionist enterprise. Archaeologists have laboured to overturn misguided notions such as violent conquests and cultural decline about the Islamic past which were constructed by Europeans in colonial discourse. In some ways the contribution of Islamic archaeology is a postcolonial revisionist engagement with the Middle Eastern past, one that does not exclude or belittle Islamic history. At the same time, however, Islamic archaeology itself is bound up in the enduring colonial practices of ‘Near Eastern’ archaeology. Much research is produced exclusively in non-Middle Eastern languages from metropolitan centres beyond the Islamic world and its non-participatory, elitist practices tend to overlook critical social heritage perspectives. This paper draws on postcolonial critiques to examine this tension in the structure and practices of Near Eastern and Islamic archaeology. Colonial archives from Syria-Palestine and present practices will be discussed to illustrate the contested terrain of doing social Islamic archaeology.

Ian Simpson, PhD Student
Department of Anthropology
Stanford University


Unsettling Settler Myths – Archaeologies of the Past and Future in Israel and South Africa

Israel and South Africa share a history of multi-scalar structural violence perpetrated by a minority bent on ‘past-mastering’. Nadia Abu el-Haj’s thorough comment on Israeli archaeologists as agents of the state tasked with effacing all but ‘ancestral Judaic/Israeli’ archaeology with military efficiency, is well-known. But the Israeli instance is too easily cast as an easily ignored aberrant singularity. Here a comparison with the imperial, colonial and Apartheid strategies employed by South Africa’s minority rulers to deny or denigrate deep and complex local histories helps demonstrate the pervasive nature of the structural violences of minority rule. Such comparison provides glimpses into the conditions that foster structural violence on historical consciousness, identity formation and notions of self-worth. For example, ‘white’ or ‘settler’ history is positioned as the norm, from which all other pasts proceed or are measured. In a parallel move, those ‘other’ pasts are denied or made the subject of either a terra nullius or conquest scenario. Thus, the notion, formulated in the 19th century and continuing into the 1960s, that many indigenous achievements such as Great Zimbabwe and the ‘White’ lady of the Brandberg were not made by locals but by exotic foreigner such as Phoenicians, Sabaeo-Arabians and even a ‘lost Tribe of Israel’. With the advent of Apartheid in 1948 -the same year Israel came into being – the past was remodelled to state that Bantu-speaking farmers reached South Africa at the same time as the Dutch in the mid-17th century, justifying a land grab by whoever was strongest and, importantly, most God-fearing. Both complicit and at variance with these visions of the past was a small, state-funded community of archaeologists caught in a ‘science war’ in which English and Afrikaans versions of ‘prehistory’ vied for superiority, and debates raged over whether or not to use European methods and terms to study the African past. Archaeological challenges to Apartheid pasts were most successful when using scientific dating techniques like 14C that could prove, in a language the government respected, an autochthonous archaeology. Since democracy in 1994 archaeology remains of interest to the state; this time in promoting a glorious African ‘Renaissance’ and valorising ‘Indigenous Knowledge Systems.’ This celebration of the past is potentially as damaging as its denigration, though it may have the potential to suggest an avenue for reconciliation with Palestinian versions of the past, especially with reference to the concept of ‘origins’.

Archaeology should not be in the business of making states happy, but rather of making all citizens aware of the contested and constructed nature of the past. Most people are not duped by state-sponsored visions of the past but they lack the ‘facts’ as framed in engaging narratives that allow them to unsettle Settler myths. We can help with the unsettling of the past.


Sven Ouzman
Department of Anthropology & Archaeology, University of Pretoria, Tshwane, 0002, South Africa.
E-mail: Web:



The Protection of Cultural Heritage in Times of Armed Conflict – a View from Civil-Military Cooperation Practical experiences in recent years show that despite international conventions and public awareness, cultural property is a target of increasing priority in the event of armed conflict. The Austrian model of the “Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict” has gained international attention as its reception in the context of international symposia in the NATO/PfP* framework in the last years evidently demonstrate. At the same time, the protection of cultural property starts to develop into a major issue within the context of military planning.  This paper deals with the perspectives of the protection of archaeological heritage and cultural property in the event of armed conflict and under occupation as a military issue as well as an issue of civil military cooperation.  Against the backdrop of recent conflicts and based on experiences of the Austrian military and Austrian NGOs, it points to the gap between the ideal of international conventions and the hard facts of military “Rules of Engagement”. It strengthens the need for an explicit political mand
ate for the protection of cultural property for the military in action. It also strengthens the obligation of the scientific community to advocate for this explicit mandate in a most effective way, in cooperation with politicians, law enforcement officers, the military and other experts dealing with the protection of cultural property. *The Partnership for Peace program (PfP) includes most of the former republics of the Soviet Union and the former Yugoslavian states as well as the neutral EU member states that are therefore not members of NATO – like Austria – and finally Switzerland.

Holger Eichberger & Friedrich Schipper
Austrian Society for the Protection of Cultural Property & Austrian National Committee of the Blue Shield, Vienna, Austria


The Wild Children of P. — Chaos & Order in the Post-Colonial World

Violence is the backdrop of Euro-American tactics of empire.

In certain political movements, direct violence is considered a viable alternative to peaceful forms of resistance, and an answer to the structural violence individuals experience every day.

During protests against IMF and World Bank, young American anarchists and European autonomists wear kefiyes and throw stones. In their resistance against the existing world order, they consciously draw on the style of political struggle in Palestine.

In their attempts to ‘shake off’ colonial rule, young Palestinians too throw stones. Their doing results as much in condemnations of direct violence in left-liberal circles as in crass counter-violence from the Israeli military.

Debating the desire of Euro-American leftist ‘radicals’ to change the system, this paper explores WHY and HOW certain acts of violence become embedded in social structures and others do not. While the movements of Euro-American and Palestinian youths seem to be directly juxtaposed in terms of their immediate goals as well as access to resources, I want to discuss structural similarities between the violent struggles that take place in different parts of the world and ask about possibilities for a global solidarity. I will sidetrack into war zone graffiti art and comic books about rebel culture, but only in order to talk about uneven chances and the pain of experiencing the diversity of experience.

Maria Theresia Starzmann
Dept. of Anthropology
Binghamton University


Destruction of Cultural Landscape in the West Bank Mazen Iwais; Shafeeq Shabaneh; Waleed RimawiAl-Mashhad- Palestinian Institute for Cultural Landscape StudiesThe past two decades have witnessed a substantial inter-disciplinary approach between archaeology on the one side, and humanities and applied sciences on the other, on the grounds that these sciences are no longer just considered as assistants to archeology. Rather, with the rise of modern and postmodern archeology, they are understood as part of the structure of archaeology.Debates about archaeology in Palestine cannot be conducted without talking about politics, although many of the parties might try to marginalize this issue. The flag of Antiquities in Palestine and Israel is involved in the prevailing of political discourse; in addition to that archaeology was involved in the formation of identity of both Israelis (Kletter 2006) and Palestinians as well (Abu El-Hajj 2001). Existing studies of political discourse in archaeology have had an effect on the formation and deconstruction of the concept of identity, following the rise of new archaeological studies and modern and postmodern trends in archaeology, and after the entrance of epistemological, philosophical and anthropological studies in archaeology, the new trends in modern Archaeology dismantle the concepts of identity and its relation to our understanding of the past.

In this paper we will try to shed light on the policies of destruction of cultural landscape in Palestine by focusing on a number of archaeological sites and areas; those are Wadi el-Natuf, Sinjil and Al-Lubban Al-Sharqeya village.  The main question in this paper is: What is the concept of the destruction of cultural landscape? We will then examine this concept on both theoretical level and on the ground through these sites.

Archaeology is a process of systematic destruction of archaeological sites based on scientific methodology and techniques (Ashmore and Sharer 2000). Any work in archaeological sites that does not involve scientific methodology must be considered unregulated and may have destructive effects.

In this paper framework for addressing the destruction of cultural landscape will focus on two issues: (1) Social changes in these three villages and their impact on cultural landscape. (2) Political changes and the impact on cultural landscape.  Within this framework we will focus on the Oslo agreement, the political division of cultural landscape in West Bank, and the reason that these three villages are located in the so-called C areas as Oslo Convention states.

BibliographyAbu el-Haj, Nadia. 2001. Fact on the Ground: Archaeological Practice and Territorial Self-Fashioning in Israeli Society. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.Ashmore, Wendy; Robert J. Sharer. 2000. Discovering our Past: A Brief Introduction to Archaeology. McGraw-Hill Higher Education.Barghouth, Jamal. 2007. “The Modernization and Israelization Process in the Landscape –Changing of Jaba Village in Jerusalem”. Paper Presented in the International Conference of Conservation and Management of Landscape in Conflict Regions. Bir Zeit University Boyd, Brian. 1999. Twisting the Kaleidoscope-Dorothy Garrod and the Natufian Culture. Dorothy Garrod and the Progress of the Paleolithic-Studies in the Prehistoric Archaeology of the Near East and Europe. Editors. William Davies and Ruth Charles. Oxford: Oxbow Books.Conder, Claude Reignier; Charles Warren. 1889. Survey of western Palestine. London: Palestine Exploration FundDever, William G. 1975. “MB IIA Cemeteries At ‘Ain es-Sâmiyeh and Sinjil”. Bulletin of the Research. 217. pp. 23-36.American Schools of Oriental _______________. 1998. “Archaeology, Ideology, and the Quest for an “Ancient” or “Biblical Israel”. Near Eastern Archaeology, Vol. 61, No. 1. pp. 39-52. Finkelstine, Israel; Zvi, Lederman. Editors. 1997. Highlands of Many Cultures – The Southern Samaria Survey – The Sites. Tel Aviv University: Institute of Archaeology.Hawari, Mahmoud. 2001. “Khan al-Lubban, a Caravanserai on the Damascus-Jerusalem Road”. Levant 33, 7-20.  Kletter, Raz. 2006. Just Past? The Making of Israeli Archaeology. London; Oakville, CT: Equinox.Negev, Avraham; Shimon Gibson. Editors. 2001. Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Land. New York: Continuum Publishing.

Stern, Ephraim. Editor. 1996. The New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land. Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society.


Violence and the nation-state – a perspective on Indian archaeology past and futureBrian Hole

MPhil/PhD Research Student
Institute of Archaeology
University College London
31-34 Gordon Square
London WC1H 0PY
United Kingdom

The maintenance of notions such as ‘the nation’ and ‘national identity’ is essential to the integrity and survival of the nation-state as we understand it today. The state achieves this by defining and controlling membership of the nation, especially in regard to minorities. The interpretation of heritage is integral to this process, and input from archaeology can be pivotal. This paper examines the process with the case of India, whose population is comprised to a significant degree of minorities, and
where preserving the integrity of the nation-state as it undergoes widespread change is an ongoing balancing act. The well-known involvement of the discipline in the Ayodhya dispute that disrupted WAC 4 in Delhi, saw archaeologists at the centre of an inter-community nationalist conflict resulting in the loss of thousands of lives and deeply divided as to what role they should play. At the same time a rich, varied, and sometimes spectacular archaeological record representing a past of equal value to all Indians is steadily being uncovered by mainstream archaeologists, leading to a revaluation of the importance of the subcontinent in the world from prehistory onwards. With South Asia experiencing destabilisation and with religious fundamentalism a real and pressing security concern, the way that heritage is used to encourage national identity will be a definite factor in determining the direction for India during the 21st Century.


Palestinian institution for cultural landscape studies – Palestine East Jerusalem

Jamal Barghouth East Jerusalem : Postbox 54816


Hiding and Elimination:  the Archaeology of the subaltern in Palestine  through archaeological  discourse, and the Israelization process of the Palestinian landscape

Key word: Subaltern,  Archaeological  discourse, ,Eurocentrism, Metanarrative, Cultural hegemony, Israelization.

The archaeology of the subaltern in Palestine is affected by the dual process of hiding and elimination. Basically, the intellectual origin of the hiding process of the subaltern originates from archaeological discourse which is still under the cultural hegemony of eurocentrism. Mainly, archaeological discourse has aimed to expose the metanarrative of the dominated ancient states in the ancient world, through applying large-scale archaeological theories. This condition contributes to hiding the archaeology of the subaltern in Palestine, since the large scale theories  made a  systematic foundation into which to insert archaeological materials, which come  from the  main  urban elite centers, in the metanarrative of ancient states.  Subsequently , archaeological  discourse ignores the archaeological material of the subaltern in Palestine  which is  available in the landscape, such as  paths, roads , springs , agricultural towers , terraces , tombs, and  small villages.

Actually, the Israelization process of the Palestinian landscape which took place from  around a  half century ago  until now , is a systematic process , starting from  replacing  modern Hebrew names above local names of  landscapes features, settlement constructions  over historical landscape, construction of bypass roads which are cutting the horizon of the  historical landscape , and finally the current construction of the isolating wall which will destroy the heterogeneity  of the  historical landscape.  these activities are contributing  together to  eliminate gradually  the archaeological  materials  of the subaltern, which also will  prevent the  shift from macro into micro narratives in Palestinian archaeology ; subsequently to block  the way  to write an alternative ancient  history   of  Palestine based on the  archaeological  material of the subaltern.


Effects of Contested Management of Archaeological sites in the Hebron district

Palestinian cultural heritage has been managed and operated by several administrations since more than a century ago. Each administration has had its own way of management, protection, methods of research, excavations and political purposes, making Palestinian cultural heritage one of the most intensively excavated and subsequently disturbed worldwide. According to the Palestinian- Israeli transition accords (1993, and 1994-5) the Palestinian Authority took over the responsibility for archaeology in Area “A” and “B” which represent circa 40% of the occupied Palestinian land.  In spite of this hindrance, it was the first time that the Palestinian people were given the opportunity to manage their own heritage. This paper will attempt to illustrate and discuss the conditions of archaeological sites in the Hebron district in the period between 1993 (after the Oslo agreement) and the al-Aqsa Intifada in 2000, under two contested administrations: the Palestinian Department of Antiquities on the one hand, and the Israeli antiquities staff officer on the other, who is still responsible for managing and protecting the archaeological sites in Area “C”.Clandestine excavations, illicit trafficking  and the state of conservation of Palestinian Cultural Heritage will be explored to demonstrate the protection, conservation and development  dynamics of archaeological sites in this area and how contested management and protection by the two administrations affect the safeguarding of the Palestinian cultural heritage. In light of these factors, this paper also will briefly trace the illegal Israeli excavations, so called “salvage excavations” and the devastating impact of the separation wall on the archaeological sites and cultural landscape of the Hebron area.

Ahmed Rjoob
PhD candidate Student
University of Ferrara


Authoritarism and Archaeology in Portugal: The case of “Colonial Archaeology” and Underwater Archaeology.


Abstract: This paper aims to establish relationships between the Portuguese scientific archaeological production and the assertion and reproduction of authoritarian policies in the dictatorship and democratic periods in two specific fields of “colonial archaeology” and underwater archaeology.First, it is looked to establish relations between the forms of political, economic and social oppression of colonized indigenous peoples, dominant discourse about the superiority of the colonizer and its civilizing mission, and the articulation and development of archaeological research in the colonized territories, within the universe of “Anthropological Missions” that occurred between the 1930’s and 1960’s in Portugal, the period of Salazar’s dictatorial government.Finally, it examines the development of underwater archaeology in Portugal since the 1970’s to understand the relationship between the emergence of social and political concern about the research and conservation of underwater cultural heritage, mainly the approach of the Portuguese state about the legislation and institutionalization of underwater archaeology, and the impact of these actions on this scientific field and on society in general.