Friday, November 29, 2013

ASOR 2013 in Baltimore and the Archaeologist's Responsbility

I am beginning to realize the importance of consistent, daily writing.  Instead of reserving my commitment of the written word to an electric screen when a paper is due, I am going to make a concerted effort write consistently on matters of interest related to archaeology and biblical study.

Last week, a group of friends / colleagues--luckily in our field, the distinction between the two easily blurs--journeyed to the annual meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research.  In layman terms, it is one of the main archaeological scholarly meetings that takes place each year.  

When I have discussed this meeting with friends who are not in the field of archaeology, images of scholars akin to Indiana Jones pop in their mind.  What could be more interesting than hanging out with such a group?  While I agree with the sentiment of excitement, the reality is that it is merely another conference with good deals on books and fascinating papers to attend.

The plenary address for the conference took the cake for the most engaging discussion, at least in my book.  C. Brian Rose of U Penn challenged all Archaeologists with our role when the countries we study go to war.  What is the archaeologists job who digs in Syria, when the political climate renders travel to the country impossible?  Our job, Dr. Rose said, was not to take sides in any conflict.  Our job first and foremost is to ensure the protection of material culture.

He implemented a fascinating program where he and other archaeologists traveled to different military bases in the U.S. to provide servicemen and servicewomen with information regarding antiquities of the countries to which they would soon be deployed.

Another interesting item discussed was the purchase of looted antiquities in foreign countries.  Although it might be pretty cool to purchase an assortment of ancient coins or a Roman short-sword, the money exchanged for such items often goes directly into the hands of people that fund terrorism and violence.

The conference was a blast and included many opportunities to touch base with former professors and colleagues.  I was privileged to present a poster with a fellow student, and also I was able to spend a brief period of time with a former professor from Centre College who was seminal in my journey to where I am today.

All in all, it was great week with nothing but fantastic memories.

Jocelyn and I with our poster.