Wednesday, July 22, 2009

World War I Archeology in..."Palestine" or, Eretz Yisrael

This should be very interesting.

Revisionist archeology.

Trains, trenches, and tents: the archaeology of Lawrence of Arabia's war

Great Arab Revolt project

6pm, Thursday 15th October 2009

Stevenson Lecture Theatre, Clore Education Centre, The British Museum, London WC1

A lecture by Neil Faulkner, University of Bristol/Arab Revolt Project

Followed by wine

Lecture abstract

In contrast to the attritional trench warfare on the major fronts of the First World War, the Arab Revolt in Arabia and Syria between 1916 and 1918 was an extreme form of asymmetrical warfare, in which small numbers of highly mobile and lightly equipped guerrillas waged war against the regular forces of the Ottoman Empire.

The effectiveness of the Arab insurgents in this conflict has been debated ever since. Pioneering archaeology in the deserts of Southern Jordan is now revealing an extensively militarised landscape that implies something more than ‘a sideshow of a sideshow’. The implication is that thousands of Ottoman troops were dispersed across the landscape and tied down in static defensive bases in a wide-ranging war without fronts against an invisible but all-pervasive enemy.

The Arab Revolt turns out to have been a prototype for ‘people’s war’ – with T. E. Lawrence its seminal theorist – that is, war of a kind that has since shaped much of the history of the 20th century, and which continues to shape that of the early 21st.

And by the by, I found this there:

The term 'Palestine' is a widely-attested Western and Near Eastern conventional name for the region that includes contemporary Israel, the Israeli-occupied territories, part of Jordan, and some of both Lebanon and Syria. Its traditional area runs from Sidon on the coast, to Damascus inland, southwards to the Gulf of Aqaba, and then north-west to Raphia.(*)

The Sinai Desert is usually considered a separate geographical zone to the south. 'Palestine' is first attested in extant literature in the 5th cent. BC, when it appears in the Histories of Herodotus (Hist. 2: 104, etc.) as PalaistinĂª. It seems to have its origins in the root form p-l-s-t , denoting the land of the Philistines, though it has generally in Western usage referred to a much wider region than coastal Philistia, including the area that is known in Biblical, Rabbinic and Samaritan literature as the Land of Israel (Eretz-Yisra'el) or ancient Canaan. The term 'Palestine' has over many centuries retained its relevance as an apolitical geographical term regardless of the nation-states and administrative entities that have existed in this region. (**) It has no political associations when used by the Palestine Exploration Fund.

Except in the west, where the country is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea, the limit of this territory cannot be laid down on the map as a definite line. The modern subdivisions under the jurisdiction of the Ottoman Empire are in no sense conterminous with those of antiquity, and hence do not afford a boundary by which Palestine can be separated exactly from the rest of Syria in the north, or from the Sinaitic and Arabian deserts in the south and east; nor are the records of ancient boundaries sufficiently full and definite to make possible the complete demarcation of the country. Even the convention above referred to is inexact: it includes the Philistine territory, claimed but never settled by the Hebrews, and excludes the outlying parts of the large area claimed in Num. xxxiv. as the Hebrew possession (from the " River of Egypt " to Hamath). However, the Hebrews themselves have preserved, in the proverbial expression " from Dan to Beersheba " (Judg. xx.i, &c.), an indication of the normal north-and-south limits of their land; and in defining the area of the country under discussion it is this indication which is generally followed.

Taking as a guide the natural features most nearly corresponding to these outlying points, we may describe Palestine as the strip of land extending along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea from the mouth of the Litany or Kasimiya River (33° 20' N.) southward to the mouth of the Wadi Ghuzza; the latter joins the sea in 31° 28' N., a short distance south of Gaza, and runs thence in a south-easterly direction so as to include on its northern side the site of Beersheba. Eastward there is no such definite border. The River Jordan, it is true, marks a line of delimitation between Western and Eastern Palestine; but it is practically impossible to say where the latter ends and the Arabian desert begins. Perhaps the line of the pilgrim road from Damascus to Mecca is the most convenient possible boundary. The total length of the region is about 140 m.; its breadth west of the Jordan ranges from about 23 m. in the north to about 80 m. in the south.


After the Jewish rebellions of the first and second centuries CE, the Romans merged the province of Iudaea with Galilee, Samaria and Idumaea, uniting the entire area in a new province bearing the Greco-Latin name Syria-Palaestina. The application of the Latinized name Palaestina to the region of the Iudaea Province by the Roman emperor Hadrian following the crushing Bar Kochba's revolt in 132-135 is seen by some historians as an attempt to suppress Jewish national feelings.



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