Nowhere has the dialogue between the past and the present had a greater impact on current economic, political, and religious realities than in the modern nation-states of the ancient Near East. There, the past is visible in nearly every field, village, town, and city, often creating a sense of identity and continuity, or in some cases alienation, for its modern inhabitants. Throughout all periods of time, the past was visible as ruins above the surface, inspiring curiosity and speculation from travelers and pilgrims, who saw in them their own religious and political heritage, and from local inhabitants, who saw the ruins as landmarks and as part of the natural landscape, often connected with local legend or holding traditional significance.

Since the nineteenth century, archaeological excavation, or the systematic recovery and recording of ancient ruins, has revealed the concealed past. During the period of domination of the Near East by foreign powers and until World War II, most archaeological investigations were directed and sponsored by individuals or private institutions from the industrialized Western world who had religious or academic research goals; they, in turn, were often encouraged by national or government institutions having an imperialistic agenda in the Near East. The excavations were almost exclusively financed by private or foreign government funds and were initiated because of a site's historic or biblical significance—Jerusalem, Megiddo, Beth-Shean, Samaria, and Jericho in Palestine. [See Jerusalem; Megiddo; Beth-Shean; Samaria; Jericho.] However, during the last half of the twentieth century, with the creation of independent nation-states and their increasing economic prosperity, locally directed and locally funded excavations often outnumber foreign expeditions. [See Nationalism and Archaeology.]

Today, archaeology is financially accountable to economic forces. Private and government agencies concerned with conservation and the presentation of public sites employ large numbers of trained archaeologists and are keen to promote contract archaeology connected with land development. Fewer and fewer sites are being excavated purely for research purposes: they are being excavated because of their impending destruction or their commercial, national, or touristic value.

A recent phenomenon is the growing influx of foreign tourism to the region of the ancient Near East as a result not only of the romantic appeal of its great cultures and their religious significance, but to the open borders resulting from peace treaties between Arab nations and Israel. The massive rise in revenues from foreign tourism has added incentive to preserving and presenting ancient ruins: the past is now understood to be a valuable natural resource. The use of archaeology to encourage tourism and economic development in an underdeveloped town or region has made it a tool for solving social and economic problems, as well.

Thus, archaeological excavation for the sake of tourism is an impetus to development, and development creates a need for more archaeological work in the form of salvage excavation. Conflicting needs exist however: excavation, preservation, and publication costs compete for funds with construction and development and the desires of local populations. This competition often forces difficult compromises between economic profit and the ideal of preserving the past.

Impact of the Past.

Although, development affects archaeological remains and historic buildings throughout the world, in the Near East the situation is especially complex because multilayered, or stratified, tells characterize many sites. The overlay of periods, cultures, and peoples requires choosing which part of the past is to be preserved: whether the Hittites, Canaanites, Egyptians, Philistines, Israelites, Assyrians, Phoenicians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Crusaders, Mamluks, Ottoman Turks, or Palestinians (both Jewish and Arab) are to be highlighted on the personal, political, or economic criteria of the body within the society that chooses to initiate a project. In short, the “victor” writes and interprets the past.

Economic development and archaeology have been especially intertwined in modern Egypt. Under colonial rule, Egypt experienced massive looting of its ancient treasures, particularly by European explorers, conquerors, and scholars. Following independence from British colonial rule, many Egyptians closely identified with the glories of pharaonic Egypt—most notably during the governments of Gamal Abdel Nasser and Anwar Sadat. Today, however, Islamic fundamentalists view the pharaohs as the evil oppressors they have been portrayed as in Islamic literature and Muslim tradition. It is the ancient monuments of the pharaohs, visited by millions of tourists each year, that provide one of Egypt's most important sources of foreign currency. The significance of tourism generated by the archaeological treasures of Egypt and the vulnerability of this source of income are illustrated by the attacks on tourists by Islamic fundamentalist groups attempting to influence political developments.

Ancient Nubia, located in modern southern Egypt, is the site of perhaps the best-known international archaeological rescue operation of the twentieth century. [See Nubia.] In the 1960s, the Aswan High Dam and Lake Nasser were created in this region of Upper Egypt, where the New Kingdom pharaoh Rameses II constructed numerous rock-cut temples. As a result of the construction, a number of those monuments were removed and reconstructed at different sites, following an appeal by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to its member states to assist in a rescue operation. At Abu Simbel, the site of the most spectacular temples, the temple facades and walls were dismantled and resited next to Lake Nasser. Today, these temples are one of Egypt's most popular tourist spots. [See Abu Simbel.]

Ironically, the very source for much of Egypt's economic development also is the greatest threat to its future: Egyptian authorities have become increasingly concerned with conserving the country's treasures—its pyramids, sphinx, and several of the decorated New Kingdom tombs at ancient Thebes. The tomb of Nefertari has been the subject of an extensive renovation and conservation project by the Egyptian Antiquities Organization and the Getty Conservation Institute in California. Now reopened, only a limited number of tourists are allowed to view the tomb, under carefully controlled conditions.

During the 1970s, Carthage, an important Phoenician and Roman port located near Tunis, the modern capital of Tunisia, was the focus of a second international campaign commissioned by UNESCO. Rapid urban and tourist development along the Tunisian coast was threatening the ancient remains of Carthage. With the cooperation of the Institut National d'Archéologie et d'Art, the Tunisian authority responsible for antiquities, and under the aegis of UNESCO, international teams were invited to assist in the excavation and presentation of the city's archaeology. Ten foreign missions participated in the Save Carthage Project in the 1970s and early 1980s. They were required, in addition to funding the excavations and their publication, to finance its touristic presentation. Today, Carthage appears on the World Heritage List and is a national park. [See Carthage.]

In the Republic of Turkey, considerable funding has been allotted to excavating Neolithic and Bronze Age sites in Asia Minor, especially ancient Hittite sites, with an eye toward highlighting Turkey's glorious non-Islamic past. [See Hittites.] More recently, with the massive growth of tourism, especially along Turkey's western coast, the focus has shifted to the splendors of classical Turkey in the Hellenistic and Roman periods: Ephesus, Pamukale, Aphrodisias, Sardis, and Pergamon have been extensively excavated and restored for tourism, completely transforming the economic base and development of many villages and towns, such as Kusadasi, Bodrum/Halikarnassos, Marmaris, and Antalia. [See Ephesus; Aphrodisias; Sardis; Pergamon; Halikarnassos.]

Since achieving independence In 1960, Cyprus has also had to contend with the pressures of local development, especially following the 1974 partition that divided the island into two sections, a Turkish enclave in the north and a Greek Cypriot one in the south. [See Cyprus.] This resulted in a migration of Greek refugees to the south and compounded pressures on the island's infrastructure. During the 1970s and 1980s, Cyprus's rapidly developing economy encouraged private, commercial, and government construction. In addition to the needs generated by an increased population, tourism to the south (especially in Limassol and Paphos) demanded rapid development of the coastal cities. [See Paphos.] During the course of construction activities, a number of significant sites requiring salvage excavation were revealed. Kalavasos-Ayios Dhimitrios (an important Late Bronze Age settlement located between Nicosia and Limassol), Skales (an Iron Age cemetery near Palaipaphos), and Amathus (a Phoenician settlement east of Limassol) have undergone emergency salvage excavations by both the Cypriot Department of Antiquities and foreign expeditions. [See Kalavasos; Amathus.]

The premiere site and major tourist attraction on Cyprus, Nea-Paphos, was the capital of ancient Cyprus during the Hellenistic and Roman periods and played an important role in the spread of Christianity. The archaeological site, the only open space in an otherwise overdeveloped area, is known for its richly decorated mosaic pavements dating to the Roman period. [See Mosaics.] The site, which since 1980 has appeared on UNESCO's World Heritage List, has become a symbol of Greek Cypriot cultural heritage for its modern inhabitants, especially since the division of the island. Today, Nea-Paphos is a major source of revenue and economic development for modern Paphos.

Jordan, a region largely undeveloped and unexcavated until the 1970s, is now a focus of increasing archaeological exploration and economic development. In 1987, the Jordanian government adopted an organized approach to the problem of archaeological heritage and economic activities, combining governmental, private, and academic agencies and organizations into a cooperative program referred to as the Jordan Cultural Resource Management (CRM) Project. It is supported by the Department of Antiquities of Jordan, the American Center of Oriental Research (ACOR), and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). [See American Center of Oriental Research.] Its goals include encouraging communication and coordination among the departments, organizations, and agencies involved in preserving Jordan's cultural heritage and developing its economy; assisting in salvage excavations at endangered sites; and training and educating professional staff—local and international members of the archaeological community. CRM contributed to the development of a computerized database for ancient sites in Jordan: the Jordan Antiquities Database and Information System (JADIS), designed to assist in planning the future development and protection of cultural resources. Initially, the CRM project focused on salvage excavations—especially in the rapidly growing metropolis of Amman, but in areas outside the capital city as well—and on cultural resource management. [See Amman.] In the 1990s, USAID funding of archaeological activities in Jordan shifted from rescue excavations and cultural resource management to tourist-oriented projects, such as those at Aila (the ancient Islamic port of ῾Aqaba), restoration of the Amman Citadel, the Madaba Urban Development Project, the Umm Qeis/Gadara Museum, the Pella rest stop, and the Petra Church Project. [See ῾Aqaba; Madaba; Umm Qeis; Pella; Petra.]

Antiquities in Lebanon, a country devastated by civil war from 1975 to 1990, were not only damaged during hostilities but were victims of large-scale looting. During the chaos that reigned following the mid-1970s, the country's heritage was plundered for profit on the antiquities market. Although an illicit antiquities market exists throughout the region, Lebanon has been the most severely affected by illegal excavations, to supply the demands of primarily foreign private collectors. [See Ethics and Archaeology.]

Lebanon's economic recovery from civil war, beginning in the early 1990s, included the massive development and reconstruction of many of its cities. Its population's urgent needs and the desire for rapid economic recovery clashed with preserving an archaeological heritage that spans the Canaanite, Phoenician, Roman, Byzantine, Crusader, and Islamic periods. An international team of archaeologists from Europe and Lebanon began conducting salvage excavations In 1993 over an area of about 48,000 sq m in downtown Beirut, currently being rebuilt by SOLIDERE, Lebanon's largest commercial enterprise. [See Beirut.] While the fate of many of these ancient structures remains in question, on 6 November 1995, Reuter Information Service in Beirut reported increasing public interest and personal identification with the antiquities being uncovered in salvage excavations in the city's center.

Archaeology played a key role in the modern State of Israel's political, cultural, and economic development even before the establishment of the state In 1948. With the increasing Jewish immigration to Palestine following World War I, Palestinian Jewish scholars became involved in the archaeology of ancient synagogues, finding personal identification and political justification in discovering Israelite and early Jewish remains. The focus of Israel's newly established Department of Antiquities was on the excavation, preservation, and restoration of sites exhibiting clear evidence of a Jewish presence in antiquity. In the 1950s, the Government Committee for the Preservation of Landscape and Antiquities (today the Israel National Parks Authority) was created to administer archaeological sites considered to be of national interest. Attention during the 1950s and 1960s was directed toward the excavation and reconstruction of monumental Crusader castles, such as those at Caesarea and Belvoir, and of Christian Byzantine churches, in order to attract Christian pilgrims. [See Crusader Period; Caesarea; Churches.] The only two biblical sites open to the public were Megiddo, excavated between the two world wars by the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago, and Hazor, excavated with support from James A. de Rothschild, the Anglo-Israel Exploration Society, and the Government of Israel, in the late 1950s and early 1960s. [See Hazor.]

In the 1960s, Masada was excavated and soon became the most visited site in Israel. [See Masada.] Located in the Judean Desert on a cliff overlooking the Dead Sea, the visual impact of the site and evocation of the events that took place there during the First Jewish Revolt against Rome inspired an entire generation of Israelis who saw in Masada a romantic symbol of the besieged modern state. [See First Jewish Revolt.] The 1960s also witnessed heightened archaeological activity in the Negev desert, a by-product of Prime Minister David Ben Gurion's vision of developing the Negev for Jewish immigration. [See Negev.] Large-scale excavations and reconstruction were conducted at a number of Nabatean sites there—at Avdat, Kurnub, and Shivtah/Subeita—and were opened to the public by the National Parks Authority. [See Nabateans; Avdat; Kurnub; Subeita.]

Following the Six-Day War In 1967 and the resulting Israeli sovereignty over the eastern part of Jerusalem, historical and biblical Jerusalem became accessible to Israelis for the first time since 1948. The impact of a unified Jerusalem on the city's economic and archaeological development is reflected in the three large-scale excavations begun in its eastern part shortly after the Six-Day War: along the southern and western walls of the Temple Mount, in the historic Jewish Quarter within the walls of Old City, and later in the City of David, located at the edge of the Kidron Valley in the Arab village of Silwan. [See Jerusalem.]

The renewed excavations (1978–1984) in the City of David were sponsored by the City of David Society, the Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew University, the Israel Exploration Society, and the Jerusalem Foundation. [See Israel Exploration Society.] The goals were to excavate, preserve, and restore the archaeological remains on government lands in Jerusalem's historic core. Since the conclusion of those excavations, the site has at times become a focal point of debate regarding land ownership and residential development in Jerusalem. Today the site is an archaeological park. It was there that the opening ceremonies took place In 1995 to mark the three-thousand-year anniversary of the establishment of Jerusalem as King David's capital.

The renovation of the Jewish Quarter by the Company for the Reconstruction and Development of the Jewish Quarter, established by the Israeli government and the Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, entailed extensive excavations of and below pre-1948 (medieval- and Ottoman-period) buildings. Significant Roman- and Byzantine-period remains are incorporated or preserved as part of or below the restored and reconstructed houses in the Jewish Quarter, and several underground archaeological sites are now open to the public. Jewish families who inhabited the quarter before 1948 were encouraged to return to live in its renovated houses as a means of engendering a strong identification and sense of continuity with the past. Because many Arab families were relocated to accommodate the demographic change, the Israeli excavations in the Jewish Quarter and near the Western Wall of the Temple Mount met with considerable criticism on a political level.

A similar renovation project underway in the Old City of Akko in Israel is the combined restoration of currently inhabited houses and structures of historic interest with the excavation of the well-preserved Crusader city beneath the modern dwellings. [See Akko.] This endeavor, under the auspices of the Israel Government Tourist Corporation, the Old Acre Development Company, the Israel Antiquities Authority, and the Ministry of Tourism, involving one of the best-preserved towns of the Ottoman period in the region, is proceeding without displacing the inhabitants. [See Israel Antiquities Authority.]

Archaeological sites in Israel are occasionally excavated and developed because of local interest and national identification. The modern Jewish city of Qazrin, located in the Golan Heights, was established in the mid-1970s because of its proximity to the ancient site of Qaṣrin, a Jewish village and synagogue dating to the Byzantine period (fourth-eighth centuries CE). Excavations and subsequent reconstruction of the village, under the auspices of the Qazrin Local Council and the Israel Government Tourist Corporation, have created a popular tourist site that provides employment opportunities for residents. Ancient Qaṣrin has also become, for many Golan residents, a symbol of modern Jewish settlement in the Golan and is the setting for community celebrations and political rallies. [See Qaṣrin; Golan.]

A different, and largely ignored, past is significant to the Palestinian population. The Palestinian link with the past is mainly through the traditional village—the settlement type that predominated for the last thirteen centuries of Palestine's history. From 1948 to 1950, during and following the establishment of the State of Israel, many of those villages were obliterated, severing the connection many Palestinians had with the land. As a result, there has been limited interest by, and even the alienation of, the Arab population in the archaeology of Israel. Today, there is renewed interest among Palestinian scholars in documenting and preserving traditional houses in towns such as Ramallah and in excavating Ottoman villages such Jenin and Ta῾anach on the west bank of the Jordan River. [See Ta῾anach.]

The 1990s ushered in a new era of archaeological investigation in Israel closely tied to national economic interests. This coincided with the establishment In 1990 of an independent authority, the Israel Antiquities Authority, with expanded jurisdiction over archaeological sites in Israel, replacing the Israel Department of Antiquities. The decade has been characterized by the excavation of major archaeological sites of national significance undertaken to encourage tourism and development. The year-round excavations at the classical (Hellenistic-Byzantine periods) sites of Beth-Shean, Caesarea, and Mareshah/Beth-Guvrin were initiated primarily to solve local social and economic (employment) problems. [See Mareshah.] In addition, large-scale construction (the response, in part, to massive immigration from countries belonging to the former Soviet Union), has required unprecedented salvage excavations at hundreds of sites yearly. The large residential communities currently under construction in the northern suburbs of Jerusalem, in Modi῾in (north of Jerusalem), and in Beth-Shemesh; the construction of Highway 6 transversing the country from north to south; and a series of bypass routes on the west bank of the Jordan have not only resulted in an unprecedented number of excavations, but have transformed the local topography. [See Beth-Shemesh.] A landscape has been created that never existed. Although a number of sites will be preserved or not excavated, the new residential communities will create artificial “islands” of cultural heritage cut off from their natural setting. Thus, in the 1990s in Israel archaeology became inseparable from tourism, economic development, and growth.

This rapid development and the resulting increase in salvage excavations and attempts to preserve Israel's cultural heritage have been challenged by several sectors of the Israeli populace. At a number of construction sites, Jewish tombs have been inadvertently uncovered, requiring salvage excavations. The removal of human bones from their final resting place, forbidden by Jewish religous law, and their disturbance by bulldozers or archaeologists have provoked violent demonstrations and political upheaval. Compromise solutions have included the rerouting of major roads or the cessation of excavations and the sealing of tombs thought to be Jewish. Development has also been prevented on the Ḥaram esh-Sharif (the Temple Mount), the region's most significant site for Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Today, it is under Muslim jurisdiction, with Israel honoring an arrangement made when the eastern part of Jerusalem was under Jordanian rule before 1967. Because of Muslim concerns over the character and future of the site and of fears enforced by several attempts in recent decades to destroy Islamic structures on the Ḥaram, all archaeological activity there is forbidden. The battle over whose past is presented in Jerusalem has extended to the south of the Temple Mount, where excavations uncovered not only the glories of Herod's Jerusalem but also public structures dating to the Umayyad period. [See Umayyad Caliphate.] Municipal plans to reconstruct and preserve the Umayyad monuments were met with demonstrations by nationalistic groups in Israel who oppose presenting Islamic Jerusalem to the public.

Future of the Past.

The threat to the past presented by development in the majority of modern nation-states in the ancient Near East is unprecedented in history as a result of population growth, economic prosperity, and the earth-moving machines used in today's building projects. The ideal is a balanced approach to preserving cultural heritage without unnecessarily impeding economic growth and development. Several measures need to be taken in advance of planned development, including surveys and inventories of sites and historic buildings. This policy has been implemented, with varying degrees of success in Israel and Jordan, and on a smaller scale in surrounding countries. Close co-ordination needs to be encouraged and enforced by government agencies, municipalities, and private contractors on the one hand, and by departments of antiquities on the other, to minimize damage to archaeological sites and to avoid unnecessary delays or expense to contractors and investors. Cooperation during initial planning stages can often benefit all parties. Local and foreign tourism are encouraged through well-conserved sites accessible to the public and by public buildings and residential neighborhoods in which archaeological remains are preserved or incorporated into modern structures.

To effectively manage historical and archaeological resources, clear legal, planning, policy, and academic frameworks are necessary. Such well-defined guidelines can assist greatly in resolving the conflicts of interest that are unavoidable when development affects archaeological remains. Relevant information must be accessible to decision makers involved in planning and development as well as to those protecting archaeological resources. The management of archaeological sites, particularly in an urban environment, requires a well-trained, professional staff as well as funding and other resources to collect and record archaeological remains and to implement policy.

Tourism requires infrastructure and facilities for visitors to sites in order to avoid adverse effects on the environment of a region and on ancient remains. [See Tourism and Archaeology.] In addition to the legal, administrative, and economic factors of archaeological resource management, perhaps the most important aspect of cultural heritage is the relationship between the archaeological site and the public. Public awareness and education are crucial to the conservation of cultural heritage and planned development and can be encouraged through local associations and societies, in schools, and in the media. This communication is essential to raising awareness of the value of archaeological heritage as an endangered finite natural resource.

The past is perceived through the eyes of the living, and as contemporary values and beliefs change, so will interpretations of the past. Historic remains are not static, and each site may have a diversity of meanings for different publics. As interpreters of cultural heritage, it is the task of archaeologists to convey the relevancy of the past, to promote dialogue between professionals and lay persons, and to encourage constructive cooperation between those desiring to preserve archaeological resources and developers responding to the needs of a modern society.

Bibliography

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Ann Killebrew