Dr. Rowan Williams contemplates “Warrior Archaeologists”

The annual lecture under the auspices of “Embrace the Middle East” took place at St. James’s Church, Piccadilly, on 12 May. This year’s distinguished speaker was The Right Rev’d & Rt. Hon. Baron Williams of Oystermouth, the former Archbishop of Canterbury. The subject of his address was “Warrior Archaeologists: making and remaking history in the Middle East.”  In a powerful and moving examination of how archaeology can be used divisively for the benefit of one particular version of history in order to exclude, diminish or distort others which conflict with it; he exposed the fundamental divisions behind current conflicts in the Middle East and offered a more inclusive, charitable and humane way to foster understanding, tolerance and co-operation. Using powerful poetic images, Lord Williams exposed the inhumanity of those ideologies which divide, but also highlighted the initiatives already established among fractured and suffering communities for reconciling ancient conflicts, which offer rays of hope and patterns for the future. Abba Seraphim, accompanied by Subdeacon Trevor-James Maskery, were among the appreciative audience who benefited from these insights, as the world tries to make sense of the anguish of those suffering in what is widely recognised as the cradle of civilisation.