Signposts at the Dothan Dig

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Change has always fascinated me. And as as an archaeologist, I have had some unusual opportunities to glimpse cultural change. One such glimpse occured in the 1960s while on a “dig” at Dothan, the place where Joseph’s brothers sold him to slave traders and where Elisha’s servant had his eyes opened to see the heavenly armies.

For me, as a young archaeologist, each discovery and object was a new thrill. But what struck me most at Dothan, and made an indelible imprint on my understanding of our world, was to see in the stratified layers of a buried city the vivid illustration of cultural change: The stratum reflecting the Assyrian occupation gave way to a stratum from the time of Elisha, a period earlier and a layer below. At that intersection of cultural history, I clearly saw the chronicle of change. I have never forgotten this graphic example of what archaeologists call superimposition, and this deep impression was reinforced every time I returned to the site.

The Pace Of Change

If layers of rock and broken pottery record the changes of past millennia, what does change feel like today? Alvin Toffler’s 1970 book Future Shock seems more prophetic each year as the pace of change accelerates. The result is a sense of loss and of bewilderment as we constantly enter uncharted territory. As Peter F. Drucker writes in his most recent book, The New Realities: “Some time between 1965 and 1973 we passed over such a divide and entered ‘the next century.’ We passed out of creeds, commitments, and alignments that had shaped politics for a century or two. We are in political terra incognita with few familiar landmarks to guide us.” Technologically, politically, demographically, economically, ...

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