Digging up the West Bank

Posted by mjs76 at May 24, 2010 03:33 PM |
Leicester student’s archaeology project teaches Palestinian teenagers about their local heritage.
Digging up the West Bank

Antique map of the region (image: Wikipedia)

The ‘West Bank’ of the River Jordan is undoubtedly one of the most politically contentious areas on the planet and often features in news reports about Israel or Palestine – but its archaeological heritage is far less frequently discussed. Yet this part of the world – the  ‘cradle of civilisation’ – has an unbelievably long and complex history and contains such important locations as Bethlehem, Jericho and Hebron.

Emma Shaw, a final year student in our School of Archaeology and Ancient History, visited the West Bank following a placement in Israel in 2009 – and was amazed to find that young people there had no interest in the amazing archaeological heritage around them.

Determined to remedy this situation, Emma contacted the Siraj Center for Holy Land Studies, a Palestinian NGO which “aims to create links between Palestinians and people from around the world through educational tourism, interfaith and ecumenical dialogue, culture and youth exchange programmes.” Through Emma’s efforts, an archaeological project has been established at the Siraj Center, initially for three months, to teach 14-17 year-olds in the West Bank the skills and knowledge needed to excavate and protect archaeological remains.

The Rozana Association, hosted by Birzeit University, is overseeing the project and the volunteer organisation Past Horizons has donated equipment. UN agencies in Palestine and New York have already shown an interest in the scheme. Now Emma is looking for some sponsorship to get herself and some other Leicester graduates out to the West Bank this summer.