Archaeology Odyssey 2:2, May/June 1999

Editors’ Page: When Past is Prologue

The uses of enchantment

By Jack Meinhardt

Archaeology Odyssey

When Adam was evicted from the Garden of Eden, “to till the ground from which he was taken” (Genesis 3:23), the whole world lay before him. Just where does one go?

In starting Archaeology Odyssey, we were in a similar quandary. Unlike Adam, we had done it before, publishing Biblical Archaeology Review, which will celebrate its 25th anniversary in exactly a year. But we did have Adam’s problem: The past is a universe stretching far beyond where the eye can see. Just where does one go?

There was another complication, at least for me. I cannot agree with Santayana that those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it. The ancients were different from us—our history and sense of identity are shaped by forces they could not have imagined. I don’t mean that we gain nothing by studying the past. We gain a world. But ancient history cannot tell us how to live our lives; it offers little of practical benefit.

Thus my other problem: Why bother with an archaeology magazine in the first place?

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