Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Issue: Jehoash Inscription

When an ancient artifact is found, whether within its original context or not, its interpretation is very easily be influenced by bias. Of course, in archaeology bias is always present when it comes to an objects interpretation but it is important to understand that interpreting an artifact on the basis of one’s own theory instead of interpreting the artifact in its raw form is ethically irresponsible.

The Jehoash Inscription is an excellent example of an artifact not being interpreted in its raw form. This artifact appeared in Israel in January of 2003. This artifact was extremely controversial when it was first found. The inscription describes repairs made to a temple by Jehoash, which corresponds to a story in the Bible.

The inscription was thus exposed to bias of cultural ideas and interpretations which represent the influences of the contemporary society. There was a religious bias and desire to connect the inscription with the Bible in order to confirm it as true. There was also a political bias as Israeli extremist groups wanted to use the tablet to support their movement to build a new temple on the Temple Mount.
Neither of these biases took into consideration the actual context or meaning of the raw artifact. They were too eager to connect it to their own interpretation and exploit it for their own purposes. I think that the biases could have contributed to the delay in finding out whether or not the inscription was authentic or not. I think that there is a general ethical responsibility for everyone to accept and respect the truest interpretation of the artifact.

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