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Past and Politics in the Archaeology of Israel

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Gunnar Lehmann

The different concepts of the past are an integral part of Israeli politics today. Jewish politics in Israel often seek legitimation through a connection with the physicalremains of the past. As stones do not speak, their presence and their past meanings are explained within the present political discourse of the Israeli society. In some sense, every generation creates its own past. While the national religious and right wing secular sections of the Jewish society have a deep interest in connecting their identities with assumed past collective meanings, other sectors of the society express less interest in this discourse.The Arab sector feels that archaeology leads to a delegitimization of their interests. The secular Jewish sector on the other hand does not feel a need to refer to the past. They consider their Israeli identity as an established fact that does not require legitimation through the past.

Gunnar Lehmann is Professor of Archaeology working today in various projects in Israel and Turkey.