An understanding of archaeology as a privileged ground of national identity and national rights shaped the discipline and characterized its relationship to the work of nation-state building in Israel during the first decades of statehood. This book analyzes the significance of archaeology to the Israeli state and society and the role it played in the formation and enactment of its colonial-national historical imagination and in the substantiation of its territorial claims. It focuses on selected archaeological projects that shaped the spatial foundations and ideological contours of settler nationhood, from the 1880s through the 1950s, and that facilitated its territorial extension, appropriation, and gradual reconfiguration following the 1967 war. Those same research projects were, simultaneously, of primary importance to the work of discipline building, to crystallizing archaeology's paradigms of argumentation and practice, and to demarcating and sustaining its central research agendas. This study is best understood as an anthropology of science that meets an anthropology of colonialism and nationalism. It borrows specific methodological and theoretical insights from a philosophical and social scientific literature that analyzes the natural sciences in order to examine the work of archaeology, a historical field science.
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