Patriarchal Palestine: Canaan and the Canaanites before the Israelitish Conquest
29 Apr 2018
Cambridge University Press
Archibald Henry Sayce
Archibald Henry Sayce (1845-1933) became interested in Middle Eastern languages and scripts while still a teenager. Old Persian and Akkadian cuneiform had recently been deciphered, and popular enthusiasm for these discoveries was running high when Sayce began his academic career at Oxford in 1869. In this 1895 work, he considers the history of the Holy Land in the context of the flood of new documentary and archaeological material which had come to light in the course of the nineteenth century. Sayce's approach opposed the 'higher criticism' which sought to demonstrate that the stories of the Old Testament should not be interpreted literally; in his opinion, 'in the narrative of the Pentateuch we have history and not fiction', and he believed that archaeological discoveries supported his view. Although this approach was already outdated, his reconstruction of the history of the ancient Near East remains of interest to historians of archaeology.