Sunday, August 13, 2006

Ancient "Jayyoush"

An ancient grave with trough to prevent accumulation of rain.

Tiles from an old room?

"It's a house!" exclaimed Shareef. We looked down into a large room, down about 15 feet from ground level into a big open space with adjoining rooms.

(above) Pottery fragments are everywhere.

Ancient Jayyoush

One late afternoon after dealing with irrigation, etc., Shareef drove me in his tractor through more fields, past green houses, almost to the 1948 border with Israel. He said "we have no movies here, no entertainment, so I will show you something!" We visited the ancient ruins of "Jayyoush." Teachers would bring their students here, before the separation barrier, and Shareef himself came here as a child. According to Shareef, this old village was named "Jayyoush." It was abandoned thousands of years ago when some enemy came from the direction of what is now Israel. The villagers fled up to the higher hillsides and established what would become the modern village of Jayyous.

I don't know a thing about archaeology, but for what it's worth: I believe these are ancient Caananite ruins. They are definitely pre-Muslim (before 700AD), because there is an ancient wine-press.

Of course, both Jews and Palestinians would claim these as proof of their ancestral origins here. The surprise is, they are both right: Indigenous Jews WERE Palestinians before modern political Zionism drew an elitist distinction.

Shareef says that the most interesting things in the site have been looted by Israelis. Once there were large covers on the graves with camel-statues on top; he and the other kids would play on them. Again, I don't know much about this archeological site, but the story fits a general pattern of cultural and historical appropriation by the Israeli government and Zioinist historians. Israel has only been here since 1948, and most Jews here immigrated after that. Yet Israel as a state relies on ancient history for ideological legitimacy (see the history section on this Israeli govt website). The standard history of the region emphasizes the Jewish presence, when in fact Jews are only one of the many peoples who have lived in this part of the world over the centuries, and for the majority of that time Jews have been a historically insignificant minority, when compared to the Muslims and Christians, and other groups before Islam and Christianity (not to say that the history of minorities is insignificant, quite the contrary). Anyway, I'm far from an archaeologist, so take all this for what it's worth. But even a layman like me can see that there is little similarity between David's kindgom of Israel and the modern state of Israel... and a lot of water, and peoples, have has passed under the bridge in between.

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