Archaeology can give objective insights into the question of national identity
Archaeology is an incredibly powerful means of showing national identity. It can give people an understanding about their past and also their cultural heritage. But this can be used in both positive and negative contexts including propaganda. The reign of the Nazi powers in Germany shows the extent of what Ultra-nationalist believed. Nazism advocated the supremacy of an Aryan master race over all other race. That they where the defenders of Western Europe. Nazis viewed the progress of humanity as depending on the Aryans and believed that it could maintain its dominance only if it retained its purity and instinct for self-preservation.
They used archaeology as propaganda. The swastika, a symbol meaning well-being was adopted by and associated with the Nazis but Earliest archaeological evidence of swastika-shaped ornaments dates back to the Indus Valley Civilization of Ancient India as well as Classical Antiquity. Swastikas have also been used in other various ancient civilizations around the world. It remains widely used in Indian religions, specifically in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, primarily as a tantric symbol to evoke ‘shakti’ or the sacred symbol of auspiciousness.
The swastika is also a Chinese character used in East Asia representing eternity and Buddhism. To the peoples of these religions and cultures today, the swastika is a part of their national identity. But also did it represent national identity to the people of Nazi Germany in the late 30’s and early 40’s. In Egypt The Rosetta Stone is requested by the Arab state to be repatriated but many westerners believe that how can Arab Egyptians claim artefacts back when they’ve got so little in common with ancient Egyptians.
But Egyptians say that most precious archeaological items were taken under colonial rule, when the British and French were in charge. So what rights did London or Paris have to take objects back to their countries? Modern Egyptians, even if they have so little in common, culturally and genetically with ancient Egyptians, feel that what the ancient Egyptians created and what culture they had is part of the national identity of the modern country and its people. Native American’s are a people in the United States who seek their national identity. In some cases, one’s opinion about one’s self is sufficient to define one as Indian.
One can often choose to identify as Indian without outside verification when filling out a census form, a college application, or writing a letter to the editor of a newspaper. But for most Native American Indians, more evidence of their past is needed for them to feel complete. So there have been Protests for the return of 1,800 skeletal remains of Native Americans being stored on the Missouri University campus. However, the University of Missouri was established by a former British colony on land purchased from France: it also represents a territorial and heritage claim.
After years of heartache, the Rwandan government is trying to bring the population together by using archaeology to create a national unity. The separation of the Bahutu people and the Bahitsi are the reason for the 1994 genocide. History has been used to legitimize discrimination and division in the society from the colonial times and up until the 1994 genocide. They are asking themselves “Is it possible to present the past in a way that prevents it from being used to divide Rwandans once again? ” Here we can see the negative context in which archaeology is used.
By dividing a nation, a people. But also the positive side where the Rwandan Government is trying to bring society back together. Unfortunately, around the world in Rwanda in 1994 and In Germany under Nazi rule, Archaeology has been used in a negative context with ideology’s seeking “proof” for one reason or another to enforce national identity. Fortunately archaeology has been used for positive purposes also. With the present Rwandan Government creating a united national identity to bring the Bahutu people and the Bahitsi people together.