The BBC, History and Politics

One of the fields in which the BBC excels is the making of history programmes and perhaps one of its more ambitious projects was the Radio 4 one hundred-part series “The History of the World in 100 Objects” which was produced as a joint project with the British Museum in 2010. 

The series has an equally impressive  accompanying website where it is possible to view the objects from the British Museum selected to represent world history, as well as additional objects submitted by the public. 

One of the items contributed by the British Museum is the Lachish Reliefs, although readers would have a hard time identifying the people depicted in the reliefs from the website alone, and even the accompanying broadcast contributes only partly and obliquely to rectifying that, whilst volunteering no information as to in which country Lachish is situated today. 

Another object which appears on the website is a Canaanite bottle from around 2,000 BCE. It is described as coming from “Jericho, Palestine”, but of course the term Palestine did not come into use for a further two millennia until it was introduced by Hadrian in 135 CE. 

So is the intention to state the bottle’s place of origin in terms of modern countries? Some of the exhibits on the site are indeed presented in that manner, whilst others retain the names of kingdoms gone by such as “Judah” – as referenced in the Lachish Reliefs section. 

The accompanying description of the object reads: 

“This ancient bottle came from Jericho, Palestine, at the time of the Canaanites c. 2000 BC. These kind of bottles were used for storing scented oils or medicine, showing how advanced these people were at the time. The bottle came from the 1931-2 excavations in Jericho led by Professor John Garstang (1876-1956). 

This object was chosen by Amer Khattab who visited National Museum Cardiff via the British Museum’s International Training Programme. He is a student at Birzeit University, Palestine.

‘It is not clear exactly how the specimens from Jericho came into the possession of Gwendoline and Margaret Davies (who bequeathed them to Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales in 1952). In 2007, a Dr Edwards wrote to the Museum suggesting that his grandfather, Mr Joseph Davies-Bryan, gave pieces to the Davies sisters. Mr Davies-Bryan was born in Wales in 1860, knew the Davies family and also subscribed towards the cost of the Garstang excavations. 

‘I chose this small bottle because it was the only piece displayed in National Museum Cardiff that came from Palestine. Although it is a small piece, it shows how advanced Canaan’s culture was.’ “

Whether one is of the opinion that it should or should not, will or will not, come into being, Palestine is not currently universally  recognised by the international community as a country and therefore its presentation as such is a political statement, just as would be the case if a reader described an archaeological find as coming from Malvinas. Indeed, in its ‘Country Profile‘ section of its Middle East page, the BBC itself does not define Palestine as a country, but as a territory and so an accurate description of the location of Jericho would be ‘Palestinian National Authority Administered Territories’. 

The BBC, however, has a disclaimer posted on the website:

“Most of the content on A History of the World is created by the contributors, who are the museums and members of the public. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the BBC or the British Museum.”

It is, all the same, a pity that the BBC allows itself to be party to the promotion of political propaganda on a website which purports to inform its audience about the history of the world and belongs to an organization charged with “promoting education and learning”.

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20 comments on “The BBC, History and Politics

  1. The BBC Watch is a very important link to those who seek the truth and will not go along with the majority who just take things at face value . As a Christian I know that those who go along with all things anti-Israel are being miss in formed regarding all things Biblical . So I want to take this opportunity to say thank you BBC Watch and keep up the good work that you are doing .

  2. Are you serious ? On a totally apolitical website the words ,” Jerich, Palestine ” occurs in wholly non political context and you write of ” …….the promotion of political propaganda ” ? Just how paranoid can paranoid get.

    If you object so much to the use of the word Palestine I assume you won’t be referring to the mandate or to Balfour any more. For goodness sake find something substantive to say or take a day off. Or several.

    • Rich

      There is nothing wrong with this article.

      The information for these artefacts includes the location of the find. Locations include Bolton, Broxley, East Riding, Kilmarten Glen and Canterbury – hardly names that existed in prehistoric times. Where countries are named they too have been given their modern name – i.e. Turkey, Japan etc. The only one I came across that was given its ancient name was Ur and it was made clear that this was once an ancient city in Iraq.

      Ms Sela’s articles stands: there is currently no country called Palestine.

  3. ” Daphne ” she who is so committed to Israelis cause that she refuses to bullshit on Israel’s behalf under her ( his ) own name it was a freaking apolitical piece of stuff.If this was politically loaded so was any reference to the mandate or the declaration.

    Come on ” Daphne ” come out for Israel. Tell us your real name.. Mine is Richard Armbach. Come on Daphne come out for Israel.

    • Richard, do you enjoy being a serial pest? Because that’s what you are. If you don’t like what you read, you know what to do.

      For you information most people don’t/won’t use their real names on the Internet. Me included It’s called **SECURITY**.

      I know two people who specialty is Internet Security ( doctorates etc) They will not use email even through a proxy server,

  4. Richard Armbach, just who do you think you are? You’re a bully. Since when did this become about personalities?

    Try debating the substantive issue – if you can. You can start by desisting in your silly habit of starting each post “are you serious?”

  5. Adam I am merely waiting for this website to come up with something to justify its existence in addition to a stream of paranoid cry baby trivia.

    • Why on earth should this website have to “justify its existence” to you?

      Do you also feel that Israel has to “justify its existence”?

      In your opinion does the BBC coverage of Israel “justify its existence” as an objective, unbiased and factual news source?

  6. Rich A, this website was created, I believe, because there are people, like me, who think the BBC is institutionally and relentlessly biased against Israel (a BBC which we have to pay for, whether we like it or not). Perhaps if you had followed the issue for more than 5 minutes, you would see that it is.

  7. Bio whatever the merits or otherwise of the BBC an endless stream of cry baby trivia is hardly going to impact on it. But I will keep reading just in case we do have a Freddie Starr ate my hamster moment.

  8. Richard, you have contributed nothing to the debate. If you have no reason to be here, why are you? It sounds as if you have some kind of problem with your beloved BBC being criticized. I’m glad you regard the systematic demonisation of a country and her people (well, the Jewish ones anyway) as “cry baby trivia”. Perhaps we have reason to be sensitive to being demonised – reasons which have passed far above your head.

    And you are still rude.

    • Indeed Adam, we do have reason to be sensitive.

      As Benjamin Disraeli said, “The Jews are a nervous people. Nineteen centuries of Christian love have taken a toll.”

  9. Bio quoting Disraeli is hum well .Wasn’t Disraeli the Jew who hum well ” converted to christianity ” all the better for climbing the slippery pole ?

  10. And I know more than most about Disraeli, living as I do a few miles from his country house , Hughendon, that he acquired via his marriage to a christian girl, all the better for climbing the slippery pole. If Disraeli is the best you can do vis a vis a working class hero you are in big trouble.

  11. Rich A, it’s spelt “Hughenden”, but then you’d know that, being so acquaited with it and all – much like your “acquaintance” with the Middle East and the BBC.

    And you owe Daphne an apology for being so rude.

  12. Yes Adam I spelt it wrong despite being very very acquainted with it. I go there often. The church down the hill serves the best coffee and cake deal for many miles around from the old alms houses.

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