Biblical Archaeology Review 9:4, July/August 1983

Queries & Comments

BAR Charged With Slander

To the Editor:

I was disappointed to read the article regarding the joint national convention of the Society of Biblical Literature, the American Academy of Religion, and the American Schools of Oriental Research (BARlines, BAR 09:02). I found the article to be rather slanderous in nature and to reflect the opinion of one who is preoccupied with narrow interests.

As a student of classical archaeology who has excavated at various sites in Greece and has attended a number of archaeology conferences, I have become familiar with the processes involved in archaeological analysis and interpretation. These activities are painstaking ones and can result in a “substantive” paper only after many seasons of excavation and a proportionate amount of time to “digest” the data. A season’s fieldwork, in the form of an excavation report, is never the source for the “larger concept” which you speak of. To label these manuscripts as “boring” serves only to betray one’s general unfamiliarity with the discipline of archaeology.

What you have written off as “boring” are the important and in fact vital steps in the archaeological process. Surely, for a scholar to “consider the larger question” by means of sweeping generalizations, based on mere assumption, is absurd.

Finally, I find it highly distasteful to delineate a roster of “those who failed to present substantive papers”—especially when your definition of “substantive” is questionable.

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