Oct. 15th: Nationalism and Archaeology Mid term exam grade distribution: A: 59 B: 46 Two thirds of class C: 25 got As or Bs D: 21 E: 13Nation: a large body of people who see themselves as similar in terms of language andcustom, and which share a territory that they control politically (or that they seek tocontrol politically)
Yugoslavia in 1990Yugoslavia in 2006(Already out ofdate! Montenegrois now independentof Serbia, and so isKosovo, mostly)
Nation: a large body of people who see themselves as similar in terms of language andcustom, and which share a territory that they control politically (or that they seek tocontrol politically)Nationalism: Patriotism on steroids When pride in one’s nation leads to prejudice against outsiders Usually, nationalism is coupled with racismHow does archaeology intersect with nationalism? Archaeology came into being because of nationalism
Christian Thomsen (1784-1856), Danish Founder of modern archaeology How does nationalism lead to the origin of archaeology? Denmark, like France, was a big loser in the Napoleonic wars. The Danes were humiliated, and needed something to be proud of. So they turn to archaeology: this is why Thomsen was hired in the first place Three-age system Iron Age Bronze Age Stone Age
Why nationalists need archaeology:Archaeology can build national identity by supplying information about a nation’s origins.Archaeology gives nations a deep history, extending roots into the past. Why is nationalist archaeology controversial? Distortion of past --emphasis on some parts of past --suppression of other parts of the past --invention of faulty details about the past
RhodesiaRuins of Great Zimbabwe (in the country of Zimbabwe, which was called Rhodesia until 1979)
Mexican flag: The central icon is taken from Aztec mythology
Mexican currency making use of the glorious Aztec past Mexican 100 peso bill, 100 peso bill showing an Aztec ruler last showing the Aztec ruler: and his mummy Cuauhtemoc bundle 10 peso bill showing a famous Aztec sculpture: the Coyolxauhqui Stone.
Coyolxauhqui stone:found in Mexico cityIn 1978.
Mexican 10 peso coin (worth about $1 US) Aztec Sun stone
Mexico uses the past to add a sense of glorious prehistoric roots to contemporary Mexicannational identity. How is this a (mild) case distortion? A more extreme form of distortion: Shinichi Fujimura What did Shinichi Fujimura do? Why did he do it?
Common features and consequences of the relation between Nationalism and Archaeology 1) Nation states turn to archaeology for help in creating national origin myths 2) Nationalism often leads to distortion of the past. The PAST becomes PROPAGANDA 3) Nationalist distortions of the past are usually the worst when a nation is undergoing difficulties or a crisisof identity 4) Archaeologists are often tempted by nationalism. This is what is sometimes called the Faustian bargain, or the deal with the devil: you compromise your standards in return for money, fame, power, whatever GOOD EXAMPLE THAT SHOWS ALL FOUR OF THESE: Germany 1919-1945 National Socialist party = Nazis
To make Germans feel better about themselves, the Nazis turn to archaeologyGustav Kossinna (1858-1931) Kulturkreis: identify ethnic groups based on artifacts The dedicatory quote for Kossinna’s 1921 book German Prehistory, a Preeminently National Discipline: “To the German people, as a building block in the reconstruction of the internal as well as external fatherland."
Kossinna’s vision of racially superior Two very potent ideas from Kossinna ancient Germans (1500 BC) 1) Ancient Germans were superior 2) Ancient Germans had settled all over Europe Huge consequences of these two ideas 1) Justification for elimination of non-Aryan races 2) Justification for military conquest of Europe
Swastika: Bronze Symbol Age Indo-Europeanof Nazi party sun symbol RunesSymbol of SSsecret police(Schutzstaffel)
In 1933, when Hitler and the National Socialists came to power,they made a huge investment in archaeology of Germany. Aspects of this investment…Heinrich Himmler, commander of SS “Keep your eyes open, for every fellow German can contribute to this important project! Do not assume that a ceramic vessel is useless because it falls apart during excavations. Carefully preserve even the smallest fragment!”
Hitler visiting a recreation of a Bronze Age Burial
Nationalist distortions of the past in Germany, 1933-1945Nazi party abused archaeology more than it used archeaology Examples --Exaggerating or fabricating evidence of German greatness --Exaggerating or fabricating evidence of German presence elsewhere --Suppression of evidence that did not conform to Nazi dogma of German superiority --Sidetracked by comical searches for things like the Holy Grail --Implausible claims about ancient, pagan German religion, such as sun worship 1) Externsteine 2) Thingstatte
Externsteine: natural rock formation, Germany.Nazis thought it was a Germanic sun shrineand solstice observatory.
Thingstatte at Heidelberg, GermanyModern construction to commemorate a supposed ancient German shrine (but no evidence of ancientshrine, and building the thingstatte resulted in the destruction of actual Bronze age and Roman ruins)
Quote from Hitler:“Why do we call the world’s attention to the fact that we have no past? It’s bad enoughthat the Romans were erecting great buildings when our forefathers were still living inmud huts. Himmler is starting to dig up these village of mud huts and enthusing overevery potsherd and stone axe he finds. All we prove by that is that we were still crouchingover open fires when Greece and Rome had already reached the highest stage ofculture. We really should do our best to keep quiet about this past. Instead Himmlermakes a great fuss about it. The present day Romans must be having a laugh at theserevelations.
How did German archaeology community respond to Nazi propoaganda about the past? 1) Big supporters (why support this?) 2) The silent majority 3) The vocal opposition (a minority) Ernst Wahle: German archaeologist who criticized Nazi archaeology as fraudulent What is the lesson in the end? --The past can have a deep impact: it can lead to the loss of lives. --German archaeology lost face. Few people trusted them after the war.