Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College


Religion 298. Experimental Courses

Conflict and Scared Space: Archaeology, Politics and Religion

This course will explore the complex interplay between history, politics, religion and archaeology by drawing on a number of pertinent themes in archaeological studies today, among them: cultural erasure, ethics, identity theory, and international and national approaches to archaeological heritage management. From the sack of the Temple in Jerusalem in the first century CE, to the recent events in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, archaeology (both secular and religious) has had a complex interrelationship with the political sphere. Landscapes, architecture and material culture have often served as indicators of the relative strength or weakness of regimes, religious traditions or of changing ideological narratives.

Archaeology has also been put to political and religious use with interested stakeholders exploiting convenient associations with the past in order to authorize their particular visions of society. Who owns history? What role do archaeology and archaeological artifacts play in the political arena and religious life? We will answer these and other questions as we investigate the ways in which material culture and politics are and have been mutually sustaining and contested fields from antiquity to the present.