Archaeological Discovery In The Holy Land -- By: W. F. Albright

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 079:316 (Oct 1922)
Article: Archaeological Discovery In The Holy Land
Author: W. F. Albright


Archaeological Discovery In The Holy Land

W. F. Albright, Ph.D.

Hardly more than two generations have passed since the cultivated world was thrilled by the wonderful results of the first excavations in the ancient East—the campaigns of Botta and Layard in Assyria and of Mariette in Egypt. The romantic revelation of palaces and temples, of majestic human-headed bulls and lions, of bas-reliefs and mural paintings, inscribed monuments, tablets and papyri, literally bursting with fresh news of a mysterious past, was startling enough to stir the pulses of the most phlegmatic. When, three decades later, Schliemann’s recovery of the archaeological background of Homer widened our horizon, and taught us to admire the culture of a Greece that preceded the glory of Athens, it seemed that archaeology would settle down to the relatively dull task of detail work, filling in gaps left by the first great finds. Yet archaeology has gone on from surprise to surprise, from triumph to triumph, from Troy to Cnossus, from Nineveh to Nippur, Telloh and Assur, from Memphis to Heracleopolis and Abydos. Outlying regions have yielded up their buried treasures; Susa and Hatte (Boghaz-keui) have shown that Susiana and Cappadocia lagged little, if any, behind their Mesopotamian neighbors in the march of civilization. There has been much detail work, less interesting, perhaps, from its nature, but all helping toward the erection of a vast history of human progress, each stage resting on the strength of the one below, each part inextricably bound up with every other.

Once we have constructed this elaborate edifice, and can trace the relation between events and institutions of

the past, reconstructing the daily life and the world-view of these forebears of our civilization, what gain will it be? The span of history has been considerably more than doubled, and our historical vision has been vastly broadened and deepened. Whereas a century ago thinkers entertained the haziest ideas regarding the fundamental principles of social, institutional and intellectual development, the laws of human progress are now clear. Even more significant to the layman is the realization of the mighty sweep and momentum of the spirit of progress in man, ever striving forward and upward. There is no room for discouragement to the historian whose scope includes the morning of history as well as its evening, for he knows that, slow as progress has often seemed to be, it moves in fact with constant acceleration. Temporary checks, such as the irruption of barbarians and the transference of the torch of civilization to new peoples, only mean that the course is presently resumed with fresh vigor.

No less instant in its appeal is the principle of ...

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