The Archaeology of World War I in Palestine and the Beginning of the Modern Middle East

Posted in: Ancient Near East Today, Archaeology, ASOR, Historical Archaeology
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By: Jeffrey A. Blakely

Most Americans understand World War I in the Middle East through the epic 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia. Who can forget Peter O’Toole’s vibrant blue eyes as he blew up trains on the Hejaz railroad in modern Saudi Arabia and Jordan? Since American forces were not involved in the Egyptian/Palestine front, it probably would have escaped American interest were it not for the film.

But World War I shaped the modern Middle East. Nation-states from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf were brought into being by the British and French mandates. Their borders were drawn by colonial administrators in European chancelleries using inadequate maps and with little regard for and no input from the local populations, which were a swirl of ethnic and religious groups. Many of these states and boundaries are now breaking down.

Blakely1_Allenby

Figure 1. General Edmund Allenby reviewing troops in Jerusalem, 11 December 1917.

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1 Comments for : The Archaeology of World War I in Palestine and the Beginning of the Modern Middle East
    • Robert Merrillees
    • June 23, 2013

    Great article on the archaeology of World War I in Palestine, but like all historians, journalists and commentators in the Northern Hemisphere, the author fails to mention the records preserved in Australia itself. Why, for example, were the archives in the Australian War Memorial in Canberra not mentioned ?

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