About a year and a half ago, (When this article was first written) Dr. Cline wrote a little article for the Boston Globe entitled, Raiders of the Faux Ark, in which he complained that the field of archaeology is being over-run by a group of people that do not meet his standards.
He feels that archaeology should be pure and undefiled by those who take advantage of the naïve by making all sorts of claims they can’t substantiate. Yet he ignores the fact that even professionals do the exact same things he whines & complains that the amateurs are doing.
One only has to look at Dr. Steven Collins, & assoc., and the claims being made about Tell El-Hammam. The words ‘location of Sodom and Gomorrah’ are bandied about even though there is not one shred of archaeological evidence to support such statements.
It is clear that Dr. Cline is providing colleagues a professional courtesy as he ignores their sins while pointing out the sins of the amateur. Such hypocrisy is not needed in the field nor is it professional.
He then goes on to trumpet the qualifications of professional archaeologists and how they know this ancient language or labored through years of study, and so on. Dr. Cline feels that the field of archaeology should be left to such men and women because they deserve it.
Again he ignores the facts of life and which has been consistent throughout the history of the field which is– that professionals do not make the best discoveries. The most dramatic and field changing discoveries are usually done by the very people he complains about—amateurs. To refresh his memory, the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered by normal men in an area the professionals were not even looking.
So why is he complaining? What is his problem? Is Dr. Cline jealous of the success of those who do not spend years and tons of money to pursue a career like he has to? Whatever the reason, Dr. Cline is way out of line. If it weren’t for the amateurs, archaeology would be a hundred years further back than it is. Why does he persist in shooting the field in the foot?
Then let’s take a look at what happens when ‘experts’, ‘scholars’ and ‘professional archaeologists’ get a hold of a monumental discovery. As in the case of the Dead Sea Scrolls, once the professionals got exclusive rights, the public got the shaft. In fact it was approx. over 40 years before some of the professionals started publishing (Shanks:1993). This elitist attitude displayed by these scholars shows that Dr. Cline is like a spoiled child who wants everything for himself and who cannot share.
One of the problems with archaeologists like Dr. Cline is that they think their education, their language ability, their years of experience gives them omniscience and that they know everything. As illustrated by Dr. Israel Finkelstein and his attempts to down date the Solomonic gates because of his reading of the construction evidence.
It is quite clear that Dr. Finkelstein does not know the difference between construction and renovation. Yes archaeologists have training but they do not have training in the fields that matter and so much is missed because of their egos and stubbornness. Because of this, the public suffers from their futile attempts to re-construct the past and their weak attempts to change history.
Provenance does not help us much as we do not get the place of origin, just the ending spot. Finding an artifact, say a table, in a house doesn’t tell us any more than the owners of that house may have had a table. We do not know what it was used for, as there are many different uses of such, nor do we know anything else except there was a table there in that house. For all we know, it was thrown there before it was buried.
Yet professional archaeologists would have us believe that they alone can divine the past from looking at these artifacts. They can’t and in many cases, a majority, these professionals can’t agree with each other on the purpose or when it was put in the house. And Dr. Cline wants us to leave the field to them…he must be joking.
Archaeologists and amateurs each have their place in this field and it is very unrealistic of Dr. Cline to think that he can bar people from exploring the past just because they do not meet his criteria. Last I looked, he and the professionals do not own the field and they have no right to self-appoint themselves as rulers of the past, with the authority to determine who gets to explore and who doesn’t. It is just wrong and keeps needed discoveries buried, which is of value to no one.
Maybe Dr. Cline should do more educating of the masses so they can be wary of those who abuse the field for their own gain, instead of trying to restrict archaeology to the elite. Whatever he does, he should not be roping the field off so no one knows if the professionals are telling the truth or not.
This is one danger of Dr. Cline’s position, a withholding of the truth because some secularists don’t like what he or she finds and who doesn’t want their beliefs to be challenged, changed or proven wrong.