Building Community through Archaeology and Dialogue
Since archaeology deals with the reconstruction of the past, it is an inherently political process and therefore can be a contentious one as well. This is especially true in Israel/Palestine, where holy sites, traditions and the material culture of the past have strong ties to modern identity, heritage and cultural patrimony. In the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, archaeology is often politically employed in efforts to establish or refute ties to that past, consequently reinforcing the “legitimacy” of each side’s position in the present. For these reasons, archaeology in the region can be highly controversial, and practitioners can be understandably reluctant to engage with the political ramifications of their work.
SHARE and its partners maintain that archaeology can provide a unique opportunity for meaningful dialogue, precisely because of the often-contentious position archaeology occupies in the socio-political arena. The highly physical, complicated and goal-oriented nature of archaeological fieldwork requires cooperation and teamwork on a daily basis. These attributes foster camaraderie and the creation of meaningful, lasting relationships between individuals in the field. Participants also gain an enriching, educational experience that serves as an introduction to the discipline of archaeology and to a range of future career possibilities.
With this in mind, SHARE’s Common Ground Initiative seeks to promote dialogue, participation and understanding between Israelis and Palestinians through a collective exploration of their shared cultural heritage in archaeological