Observation of Strata
Archaeologists may have differing aims from one generation to the next, but there is an increasing consensus on good practice and scientific method applicable to archaeology in the Holy Land, as everywhere else. Archaeology begins from simple observation on the ground. Thus in England John Aubrey (1626–97) observed, described, and planned such large ancient monuments as Avebury, and concluded that they were pre-Roman; in Scandinavia C. J. Thomsen (1788–1865) demonstrated from examination of tombs that the ancient classical distinction of Stone, Bronze, and Iron Ages was correct, and that Bronze succeeded Stone, and Iron, Bronze. John Frere (1740–1807) in England and Boucher de Perthes (1796–1860) in France observed human-made implements in gravel strata below strata containing bones of extinct animals and evidence of marine deposits (see Greene 2002: 21–30). Such observations, and the growing understanding in the early nineteenth century of geological stratification, prepared the way both for a revised view of antiquity totally undermining the biblical dating of creation some 2,000 years before Abraham reached Canaan and for the archaeological excavations of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries which themselves led to further revision of the biblical history. The all-important factors were the observation and growing grasp of the principles of stratification and, equally, the recognition of the possibility of dating objects by cross-linkages between one culture and another.