Biblical Archaeology Review 29:4, July/August 2003


Why It’s So Hard to Name Our Field

By William G. Dever

Cynical observers claim that when a discipline falls to questioning its name, it is already moribund. I would argue, however, that periodic (and even painful) reassessment is a sign of robust health. And nothing is a better clue to our identity than the name we choose to give ourselves.

I shall therefore air here what many professional archaeologists are now thinking, although unwilling to state publicly. Recent trends in both archaeology and Biblical studies, not to mention the worsening political situation in the Middle East, compel us to find an altogether new terminology to define our discipline. The time has come to abandon the term “Palestinian” archaeology.

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