Abstract: The Politics of Public Display: Archaeology, Museums and Artifacts from the Holy Land

Lecturer: 

In 2002 the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) displayed the James Ossuary – a commonplace limestone burial box from the 1st century CE bearing the Aramaic inscription “James, Son of Joseph, Brother of Jesus”. Timed to coincide with the annual meetings of the Society of Biblical Literature and the American Schools of Oriental Research, the ROM brought the ossuary together with an audience of experts. With this display the museum took on simultaneous roles: custodian of a sacred relic, a shaper of public interpretation, and as a fiduciary institution. Recent acquisitions of Dead Sea Scrolls and other biblical artifacts by academic institutions like Azusa Pacific University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary demonstrate that the desire to “own”, display and interpret the past continues to an important aspect of institutional missions., missions which also have competing roles. This lecture will examine the differing strands of obligation – obligation to the public; to students; to board members; the academic community; the country of origin; and ultimately to the archaeological record. Using case studies of artifacts from the Holy Land we will investigate the politics of public display and the role of the museum.

 

Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic (for lay reader):

2015    M.M. Kersel. Storage Wars. Solving the Archaeological Curation Crisis? Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology and Heritage Studies 3(1): 42-55.

2015    M.M. Kersel. An Issue of Ethics? Curation and the Obligations of Archaeology. Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology and Heritage Studies 3(1): 77-80.

2015    M.M. Kersel. Fractured Oversight: The ABCs of Cultural Heritage in Palestine After the Oslo Accords. Journal of Social Archaeology 15 (1): 24-44.

2014    M.M. Kersel and M.T. Rutz. Introduction. In M.T. Rutz and M.M. Kersel (eds.) Archaeologies of Text: Archaeology, Technology, and Ethics. Pp. 1-13. Oakville: Oxbow Books.

2014    N. J. Brodie and M.M. Kersel. WikiLeaks, Texts, and Archaeology: The Case of the Schøyen Incantation Bowls. In M.T. Rutz and M.M. Kersel (eds.)  Archaeologies of Text: Archaeology, Technology, and Ethics. Pp. 198-213. Oakville: Oxbow Books.

2014    M.M. Kersel. The Lure of the Artefact? The Effects of Acquiring Eastern Mediterranean Material Culture. In A.B. Knapp and P. van Dommelen (eds.) The Cambridge Prehistory of the Bronze and Iron Age Mediterranean. Pp. 367-378. New York: Cambridge University Press. 

2012    M.M. Kersel and Y.M. Rowan. Beautiful, Good, Important, and Special: Cultural Heritage, Archaeology, Tourism and the Miniature in the Holy Land. Heritage and Society 5(2): 199-220.

2011    M.M. Kersel. When Communities Collide: Competing Claims for Archaeological Objects in the Market Place. Archaeologies. Journal of the World Archaeological Congress 7(3): 518-537.

2008    M.M. Kersel. A Focus on the Demand Side of the Antiquities Equation. Near Eastern Archaeology 71(4): 230-233.

2007    M.M. Kersel. Transcending Borders: Objects on the Move. Archaeologies. Journal of the World Archaeological Congress 3 (2): 81-98.

2006    N.J. Brodie, M.M. Kersel, C. Luke and K. Walker Tubb (eds.) Archaeology, Cultural Heritage and the Trade in Antiquities. Gainesville: University Press of Florida.

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