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.
Figure 1. General Edmund Allenby reviewing troops in Jerusalem, 11 December 1917.
Recently, I was looking through some of this blog’s original posts to remove spam comments when I came across this article by the Albright Institute’s chef, Hisham M’Farreh. The included recipe looked easy to follow and delicious, so I decided to try it at home.
Because this was an experiment, I made a half-batch and ended up with 13 small dinner-sized rolls. I also used three tablespoons of za’atar mix and in the future I would bump this up to at least four. I substituted an Italian cheese blend for the “baladi or Bulgarian salted cheese” and thought it all turned out well (though I’m sure the originals are much better!).
A crucial component of this recipe is za’atar, which not everyone has lying around the house. I didn’t have fresh za’atar leaves at home, but I did have the spice mix (which includes salt and sesame seeds). Mine had been brought back as a present from Israel but it is frequently sold in stores in the US or you can make it yourself. Continue reading →
Fig 1: The seminar poster (graphics by Qais Tweissi)
By: Micaela Sinibaldi
On the 9th and 10th of February 2013 I had the great pleasure to organise a seminar entitled: The History and Material Culture of Ottoman Palestine at the Kenyon Institute in Jerusalem. The seminar consisted of a day of papers and a roundtable discussion at the Kenyon and a day of tours of the Old City led by some of the seminar scholars.
As an archaeologist who works on the Islamic period, I know from my fieldwork and research, which has been especially focused on Petra (Jordan), that it is particularly the later periods which are still largely unexplored by archaeology, particularly the Ottoman period. During my recent work for Brown University, for example, as a co-director of excavations at Islamic Bayda (Petra region), a village whose occupation spans the whole Islamic period, it appeared from my preliminary research that the latest and most extensive phase is Ottoman; however, almost no material is currently available in the region for providing the excavation results with some archaeological parallels. One of the reasons for a very recent interest in the archaeology of the Ottoman period is that, partly because of the wealth of both documentary and monumental architectural sources available, the study of material culture has naturally focused on buildings such as the impressive ones preserved in Jerusalem in the al-Haram al-Sharif and in other areas of the Old City of Jerusalem, rather than on rural sites or on the use of archaeology to help solve chronological questions. Continue reading →
By: Lisa Mahoney, DePaul University, National Endowment of the Humanities Fellow
The crusades to the Holy Land defined all of western Christendom during the 12th and 13th centuries, even if this was not continuous and did not affect all of Christendom at the same time. In the Holy Land, however, once cities had been conquered and loca sancta “freed,” the military component of this enterprise was superseded by other matters—the creation and maintenance of a new, identifiable community despite the cultural dissimilarity of its members and the remove of their origins. Although an endeavor never articulated in available journals, guides, or historical accounts, that is, in tidy passages that can be excerpted and pointed to, I contend that it was the central factor determining artistic production in the Latin occupied territories. Continue reading →
By: Elena D. Corbett, Penn State Erie, The Behrend College The views expressed here are those of the author. Please see the full disclaimer at the end of this essay.
Mural on the Cardo, Jerusalem.
Quite by accident at what is still a fairly early point in my career, I have been at the helm of several study abroad opportunities for American students in Jordan. Within recent days I returned to Amman from Jerusalem having accomplished a personal first: as part of an institutional collaboration, a colleague and I had led a group of students forth and back across the river. What follows is my attempt to grapple with a truly inarticulate mess of thought and feeling about the experience.
I don’t get to Jerusalem as often as I should. The reasons are many, but revolve mainly around an overwhelming sense of absurdity that grows more cynical as years pass. Continue reading →
ASOR is pleased to announce that it has made an issue of Near Eastern Archaeology (NEA 69:3/4 ) available for free on JSTOR for the next month. This issue of NEA contains articles by leading scholars that examine the hypothesis that a Talpiot Tomb belonged to Jesus’ family. The issue contains articles by Eric M. Meyers, Shimon Gibson, Sandra Scham, Christopher Rollston, and Stephen J. Pfann. The issue also contains an extensive response by James D. Tabor.
James F. McGrath, Clarence L. Goodwin Chair of New Testament Language and Literature, Butler University, Indianapolis
The discovery of ossuaries in tombs in the Talpiot neighborhood of modern Jerusalem would almost certainly never have made international news or led to book deals, were it not for the claims of a relationship between those ossuaries and texts from the New Testament. While most of the criticisms of the recent claims made by James Tabor and Simcha Jacobovici have focused on epigraphy and inscriptions, interpretation of iconography, and other matters related to the physical evidence, there are also problems with the claims in so far as they pertain to the New Testament texts. If there is any correlation at all to be made, it must treat all the evidence, including the texts, using the appropriate tools and methods of historical inquiry. Yet on this point, and from this perspective, the narrative being woven by Jacobovici and Tabor is problematic.
Dr. Joan E. Taylor, Dept. of Theology and Religious Studies, King’s College London
It is easy to feel in this quest to identify the picture of a ‘whale’ a sense that we are all staring at the same ink-blot and seeing different things. The architectural edifice/tower/tomb monument theory does not quite work, because there are little ‘flaps’ on each side, the sides are concave and the circular blob is not explained well. In addition, as James Tabor has said, no one would draw a tomb monument upside down on the side of an ossuary. However, no one would draw a fish in this position on an ossuary either. Instead, viewed the right way up, there is a simpler solution: the picture depicts a small receptacle often used in tombs, called an unguentarium. Continue reading →
I was a member of a team assembled last summer by a major media outlet to evaluate this project. Sitting in a stately conference room, Mr. Jacobovici, Professor Tabor and Professor Charlesworth presented their discoveries for the consideration of an internationally renowned group of scholars. The members of the evaluating team then offered our professional evaluations of this project. Continue reading →
In December, 2010, I was asked to participate in a National Geographic film project that—I was led to believe—would investigate the image of Jonah in early Christian art. I was asked to fly to Rome in January in order to be filmed in the catacombs and comment on the figure of Jonah as it appeared in the iconographic décor of those underground cemeteries. It was made clear that my expertise in ancient Christian art, especially in regard to representations of Jonah, was the reason for this invitation. Continue reading →
Robert R. Cargill (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Assistant Professor of Classics and Religious Studies, The University of Iowa
Images of the 'Tomb of Absalom' (1 C. CE Jerusalem) flank an image carved into an ossuary. Photo credits: Left: Brian796 (http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-photo/brian796/2/1264692913/the-tomb-of-absalom.jpg/tpod.html). Center: MSNBC Cosmic Log (http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/02/27/10521007-new-find-revives-jesus-tomb-flap) Right: Ariel Horowitz on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Avtomb.JPG).