Peoples of the bible


‘One of the most fascinating aspects of archaeology is undoubtedly that of being able to pinpoint and discover facts, places and figures profoundly rooted in our imagination. When the geographical area where the archaeological research is performed is the ancient land of Caan a term used in ancient times to refer to the Syrian-Palestine region thoughts immediately and inevitably go to the Bible. Because it is very true to say that archaeological research has very definitely helped clear up and better understand the bible texts, which today have not only a religious value but also the new standing of important historical sources. Not only in fact do they narrate the events closely related to the life of the ancient people of Israel, but they also provide an impressive quantity of information on other civilisations which had ongoing relations with Israel. The Philistines, the Moabites, the Amonites, the Edomites, but also the more rightly famous Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Phoenicians, all had continuous, and not only warlike, relations with what the bible calls, the Chosen People. It is absolutely true to say in fact that without that ongoing memory bank which is the Old Testament, we should have completely lost all trace of the Assyrians, one of the greatest civilisations of the ancient world. Nonetheless, the Old Testament merely gives us partial and incomplete details on these peoples, as the bible texts only reflect the way the Jews considered them. Even modern western culture, which owes so much to the Bible, has suffered over the centuries from distorted and not always true outlooks: often in fact, the Babylonians were described as ruthless dominators who deported to their capital the inhabitants of a destroyed Jerusalem. Archaeology on the other hand has shown the greatness of that civilisation, capable of erecting extraordinary monuments, of possessing a great literary tradition and of cultivating important scientific knowledge. Even the Philistines appear in the bible stories as evil and impious. Today instead we know that they were extraordinary navigators and merchants, on a par with the Phoenicians. Archaeology has also shown how relations between the Jews and nearby peoples were not only warlike, but also peaceful, with ongoing cultural and religious exchange. In the light of new archaeological discoveries, we can safely say that, if on the one hand the Jews maintained specific cultural characteristics (like monotheism), on the other, thanks to continual contacts with nearby peoples, they incorporated elements that enabled them to mature culturally. The exhibition dedicated to the ‘Peoples of the Bible’ attempts to discover the civilisations and peoples that lived in Caan over the centuries, showing not only individual and specific characteristics, but also interacting with one another in a mutual exchange of cultures and traditions.’


22 Agosto 1999 - 28 Agosto 1999


Exhibitions Meeting Exhibitions