From the archives: From the archive, 14 February 2020
The development of the craft of the archaeologist, the accidental human historian, has been greatly advanced by the ongoing survey of the past for the purpose of understanding the present. Precisely because of the innovations made in recent years the minds of scientists in this field, in both East and West, are being reshaped for the modern search for territory and ancestry.
The survey in western Palestine, in the first instance, continued along the lines of the real prehistoric villages, and in that way the Indian people were of little help. The strategy had become clear, by the mid-19th century, that the mere article of habitation, and its relationship to the succession of habitations in the area, would have to be extracted from the collected residues. In that connection archaeology became a distinctly modern activity.
The project in Palestine, however, was proceeding under the guidance of a minister of science and a department of archaeology, who had taken a very pro-eminent interest in the field of excavation, and as such there was a definite departure from their original hope that one day excavations would be carried on in the Galilee. The soil in the West was regarded as the easiest territory for excavation, and the course was largely laid. But the mines in Hebron, and the Hawara mine-slope in the Golan were gradually revealed and found to be of doubtful origin. To cope with these problems, a strange exhibition was held on 11 February at the Nativ exhibition centres of Londonderry, and Limavady, which included a number of working models and much research into the research papers.
John Beard, the Custodian of Antiques was present to give a lecture on the various aspects of the development of the present archaeology and the object of its application. This was followed by the mutual praise of the different phases of the work, and considerable mention was made of the guiding nature of Dr Barker. Comment was given, following a critique, by Dr Borg, and subsequent comment was given by Dr Needham and Mr Drew, who served as the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the survey.
The survey of recent times reveals as a much more favourable terrain for examination than that which was available 20 years ago. Dr Needham lists with satisfaction the expeditions which visited the Palestine area, and adds that the report on the work of the Government in Palestine from 1849 to 1852, which appeared in Times, is to be considered as an example for the way forward for the modern archaeological field in Palestine.