"No Wonder That on This Spot God Spoke to Us": Intersection of Anglican Tourist-Pilgrims and Archaeology in British Mandate Palestine
Keywords:archaeology, tourism, Palestine, Biblical archaeology, materiality
For British Anglican tourists, archaeological tourism in Palestine marked an expansion of a broader British cultural and religious relationship to Palestine as a land made familiar by a childhood of bible stories and nativity scenes, and one which played a role in the biblification of Palestine and the appropriation of its past to validate and strengthen a connection to Britain and the Mandate. Archaeology offered a direct link to the materiality of the biblical past, experienced via a “kairotic moment” in which the past meets the present. By examining reports of British travelers to Palestine, this article considers how materially embodied religious experiences not only drove tourist movement to Palestine but also functioned as a keystone in Britain’s relationship with Palestine during the Mandate period. Behind this growth in archeological tourism, however, is a story of tension, most notably between Mandate Palestine’s first director of antiquities, John Garstang, and the Mandate and Westminster governments. From his optimism in a report on the future of archaeology in Palestine in 1919 to his bitter resignation in 1926, Garstang’s story represents the Mandate’s failures with regard to archaeology. These tensions and Garstang’s unease foreshadowed the development of archaeology as a tool of settler colonialism in occupied Palestine today.
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