Holding History In My Hand -- By: Scott Astbury

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 22:1 (Winter 2009)
Article: Holding History In My Hand
Author: Scott Astbury

Holding History In My Hand

Scott Astbury

It struck me, when I was looking through bits of dusty rock at the Temple Mount Sifting Project, that I was sorting through history. Perhaps the fragments of bone that I was picking through had come from a temple sacrifice? Maybe they even belonged to a person who had been killed during any number of wars in Jerusalem. It was fascinating to find a shard of pottery or a piece of glass and try to discern its original usage. A few times I came across pieces that were explained to me as earlier pieces of the Dome of the Rock. I knew that the Dome of the Rock has stood on the Temple Mount since about AD 690. So, I couldn’t help but wonder how old was the piece I was holding. Now, it could just be that the Sifting Project is a special case, since the rock layers that were unearthed have all been jumbled together, but archaeology seems to me to be like uncovering a vast puzzle.

Heather Pollard

Scott Astbury literally holding history in his hands!

Through Scripture we get a sense of what life was like for the ancient peoples who lived in the land. Through the words of prophets and poets we have inklings about the customs and behaviors of their world. But, isn’t that still just part of the puzzle, part of a better understanding of a deeply rich culture, a culture that could shed a lot of light on how we may view and interpret the words of God that so many people across the world hinge their very existence on? What I think I was enamored with the most during my time sifting was how those pieces, those stories from Scripture, became alive in my hands. Those people that I had spent so much time in church reading about lived many normal and uneventful days here on this Earth. Seeing bits and pieces of these past worlds made me think about what their homes were like, their clothes. Did children play with toys? What would a family have for dinner?

When I embarked on the trip to Israel, I was looking for a better understanding of archaeology and whether or not it was worthwhile to pursue study in that field for my own interests. I came away not so much with a wealth of experience, but I think a greater inclination toward the noble pursuit of truth that archaeology provides. For archaeology seems to me to be like finding facts hidden in the dirt. I found many facts at the Temple Mount: bones, glass, coins, pottery and nails. Archaeology demonstrates the existence of such items, and afterwards a lot of painstaking work goes into uncovering the why and how behind the items found.

My personal discovery about archaeology was that it, first and foremost, provides you with undeniable evidence of e...

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