Reed links archaeology, media
Posted May 15, 2009
Rafael Anguiano
Examining a copy of the Codex Sinaiticus, Jonathan Reed catches up on his morning reading. The codex is an early manuscript of the Bible written in the middle of the fourth century, containing the earliest complete copy of the New Testament. The handwritten text is in Greek. Last month Reed delivered “The Lure of Proof and the Legacy of Biblical Archaeology: Scholars and the Media" to the Duke Archae­ology, Politics and the Media Conference, an international gathering of Middle East archaeologists, historians, journalists and film producers.

The media tends to portray the Middle East’s archeology negative, said Jonathan Reed, professor of religion at the University of La Verne, in his presentation at the Duke Archeology, Politics and the Media Conference at Duke University last month.

The conference was held on April 23 and 24, and hosted about 20 speakers.

The conference reflected on the effects the media has on how archeology is viewed in the world.

“The media is stuck in the 19th century in terms of how archeology relates to the media,” Reed said.

Reed’s speech was titled, “The Lure of Proof and the Legacy of Biblical Archae­ology: Scholars and the Media.”

“Archaeology can’t prove one’s faith to be true,” Reed said.

“There were a wide variety of people,” said Milton Moreland, chairman of the archeology program and associate director of religious studies at Rhodes College.

“People who would be able to contribute were invited,” Moreland said.

Archaeologists, historians, journalists and film producers were all apart of the conference.

“The speakers were talking about the role of the media in archeology,” Reed said.

A journalism representative from the New York Times, who attended the conference, spoke about how journalists approach this conflict, Reed said.

Byron McCane, a professor of religion at Wofford College, delivered a speech titled, “Scholars Behaving Badly: Sensationalism and Archae­ology in the Media.”

The conference’s focus was on how the presentation of the media may be affecting the Middle East, McCane said.

“I spoke during the opening session,” McCane said.

“In my speech I tried to suggest some ways in which scholars could behave in ways that would make less likely the phenomenon of sensationalism in the media,” McCane said.

There was a high level of energy throughout the conference, McCane said.

Moreland presented his speech at the conference titled, “Forged by a Genius: Scholarly Responses to ‘History Chan­nel meets CSI’.”

“I talked about the genre of film and how it has changed in the last couple of decades,” Moreland said. “A lot of documentaries use a lot of high drama now.”

These documentaries are, therefore, not as trust worthy or believable to people as they once were, Moreland said.

Moreland said the documentaries are “abusing the field of archaeology.”

“Participation was by invitation,” McCane said, “The conference was convened by two professors at Duke.”

Eric Meyers and Carol Meyers from Duke University were the organizers of the event.

For more information about the conference, call Reed at 909-593-3511, ext. 4366 or email him at

Angie Marcos can be reached at

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