Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Neo-Pagans want to use Greek Temple

In other news, some neo-pagan worshippers in Greece are being denied access to an ancient site, which they want for a religious ceremony. The denial, according to the article linked here, comes simply because Greece doesn't offer its precious archaeological heritage for ceremonial use. If we all remember the young woman who was arrested last year for picking up a rock near the Parthenon, we can understand why this request for a ceremony would be denied. Greece is touchy about its heritage, and understandably so.

The relationship between archaeology and religion is often an uneasy one. Archaeological research is destructive by nature. Paradoxically, governments or other bodies often wish to preserve archaeological discoveries as part of cultural heritage, though the protection of such heritage often means restricted access. Remotely similar circumstances occur in the U.S., where archaeologists sometimes conflict with Native American groups over grave remains. Likewise, in Israel, Orthodox Jews and archaeologists sometimes butt heads over burials.

Though an archaeologist by trade, my sympathies usually fall on the side of the religionists who want remains undisturbed. In this circumstance, where members of a new religion are asking to use a historic site, I have less sympathy. The article posted above seems a bit cynical in its phrasing, and I can't help but share that cynicism. Are the members of this religion serious or are they just rebelling against Christianity? I guess there's no way to answer that except by mind-reading.
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