Miss Woodhouse's Musings

…about life, the universe, and everything. Don't panic!

Digging Up the Past

*Disclaimer: My use of the word “Archaeology” in this post pertains solely to the methods used in the Middle-East and parts of Africa. I have no experience with more “modern” or “American” archaeology locations and techniques, so I will not pretend that I do. Enjoy the post! Miss Woodhouse*

I have an active interesting in archaeology. If you don’t believe me, then just looking at the archaeology books on my shelf, the National Geographic and Archaeology Today magazines scattered around my room, and the dirt on my hands. Okay, I’m kidding about the last one, but the other two are true. There’s just something about digging into the past that fascinates me.

Last spring I took a Biblical Archaeology class at university, and tonight I pulled out my books to reference them for another class. Specifically, I’ve been studying whether archaeology disproves the Bible, or if it confirms the Bible’s veracity. One of the most interesting books I’ve read on this subject is titled “What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It? What archaeology can tell us the reality of ancient Israel”. Snappy title, I know.

The author is a long-time archaeologist named William Dever. After devoting his whole life to digging up the past, Dever uses this book to present his arguments against deconstructionists who say that the study of history is irrelevant in today’s postmodern world. They even go so far as to say that the field of archaeology is pointless and should have been abandoned decades ago.

Put yourself for a moment in Dever’s place. Here he is, getting on in years, spending most of his life digging up the past and now some upstart, pseudo-erudite scholars want to tell him that his work is meaningless, pointless, and obsolete. For most of you, dear readers, your contact with archaeology stems mainly from Indiana Jones and Amelia Peabody. Modern archaeology is nothing like the action-packed adventures of these characters. Basically, you spend months findings sponsors to pay for your expenses and crew. Then, you spend a few months in the relentless sun, systematically digging through an endless sandbox with little more than a toothbrush and tweezers, hoping to find something worthwhile. Maybe you will find an old mosaic, or the corner of a house. Mostly though, you will find little but garbage and potsherds, so you will try to pick up any contextual clues you can from these objects in order to gain more support for your next season.

I can’t fully wrap my mind around how frustrating it must be.

So, at this point you may be wondering what importance archaeology can have in our lives. Good question! Well, first there’s the old saying that those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it. By conducting archaeological excavations, we can learn and understand the history of an area. Sometimes the lessons are cultural- for example finding out that a city turned into a ghost town because the government was overthrown. Other times, archaeologists find clues to the history of the land that will make a difference in how we develop it in modern times. For example, if an excavation finds a civilization buried suddenly in mud, then we can surmise that the area was prone to sudden mudslides, and still may be unstable.

Biblically, archaeology provides some of the most compelling outside evidence that the Bible is real. We read about how the wall of Jericho fell inward by the power of God. Then, we find archaeological evidence of a city called Jericho whose walls fell inward. Given this information, archaeologists can make a correlation between the evidence and the accounts and conclude that the Biblical account is accurate. When we find seals, cartouches, and engravings that speak of people and events we read about in the historical books of the Bible, we can conclude that the events written there are true and accurate. In fact, Dever ultimately claims that archaeology can and does prove the veracity of the Bible. He believes that the details contained in the ancient scrolls and confirmed by archaeological discoveries are much too precise to be made up. Therefore, archaeology confirms the Bible and by doing so confirms the validity of our faith.

Just think- all of that meaning from a clump of dirt and sand!

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To Live Forever

Before I skipped town, I had to chance to indulge my obsession interest in Ancient Egypt by looking at a small burial exhibit at a local museum. It was wonderful. The exhibit was nicely set up, the curator was entertaining, and the artifacts beautifully restored.

One idea has occupied my mind since then- was is it about death that warrants it taking up so much of life? These Egyptians spent so much of their life thinking about, paying for, and arranging for their deaths that it must have cut into their living activities quite a bit. Their quest for fame and wealth was only a little oriented towards a position in life- mostly, it was to secure their comfort in death.

Yet, they never found the satisfaction that their hearts and minds needed to be at rest. The type of satisfaction that only comes from knowing Who your Saviour is, from accepting His sacrifice as payment for your sins, and from resting in the comfort that He has your future firmly in hand. Instead, they lived in a constant state of fear that no matter how much good they did, their hearts may not measure up against the feather of truth.

Because, when you look at things in a practical manner, your soul is going to live forever. It’s inevitable. No matter how or when your body expires, your soul is indestructible.

The main concern lies in whether your soul will live in the peaceful presence of God, or in the eternal torment of hell. The choice is yours based on one, single decision of salvation you make or don’t make on earth. It doesn’t matter how or where you are buried, if you make regular sacrifices to the gods, or if you paint certain pictures on your coffin. All that matters is your decision to accept Christ as your Saviour.

It’s a lot to think about, isn’t it?