BAR 38:03, May/Jun 2012
Archaeological Views: An Anthropologist’s View of Early Israel
As an anthropologically trained archaeologist, I am often asked, “What does anthropology have to do with Biblical archaeology?” My response is usually a lighthearted, “not as much as it should.”
Anthropology and archaeology are, of course, distinguished by the vitality of their subject matter: Anthropologists concern themselves with the living, while archaeologists prefer the dead. For the past century, anthropologists have used a method based on participation and observation. This means that anthropologists partake in the daily life of their subjects, asking lots of questions both formally and informally. They do this while simultaneously maintaining a critical perspective (not in the negative sense), particularly regarding the structural and functional makeup of the society.