Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Lost in time

Some towns or villages mentioned in the Bible are hard to locate at this late date. Unbelievers cite that to prove the Bible is unreliable.

That’s a good example of irrational scepticism. To take a counterexample, most of us use maps at one time or another to find where some place is, or chart the best route.

Yet even in the age of modern cartography, when there’s a surfeit of information, maps routinely leave out small towns or side streets.

Indeed, it can be hard to find a map with all of the pertinent information. You have to spend time combing through different maps to find the one that meets your particular needs.

Yet it would absurd to say a particular town never existed just because you can’t find it on the map.

On a related note, maps map time as well as space. Maps need to be periodically updated. What was there 5 years ago may be gone today. What wasn’t there 5 years ago may be here today. The best way to get lost in a hurry is to use an out-of-date street map.

Entire towns can become ghost towns. Cities and towns can be renamed. Or consider the fate of Petra.

The fact that we can’t correlate a few Biblical place names with identifiable sites unsurprising. What’s striking is how many we can still correlate at this late date.

Many TV dramas are ostensibly set in one place, but actually filmed in another. The film crew may gather some footage from the ostensible setting for establishing shots, then film the rest on location in a different place.

I remember a short-lived TV drama which was ostensibly set in Seattle, but actually shot in Vancouver BC. The pilot episode really was shot in Seattle. Indeed, I knew exactly where a particular scene was filmed. But after the pilot, they shifted to Vancouver.

I could tell the difference, but you’d have to be one of the locals to tell the difference.

Likewise, I remember another show which was actually filmed in British Columbia, but it had an episode which was ostensibly set in the woods outside Spokane, Washington. It looked like a temperate rain forest. Well, the Spokane area doesn’t resemble a rain forest. The episode was obviously shot in British Columbia.

Again, though, you’d have to be one of the natives (or a tourist) to tell the difference.


  1. Just to cite three examples to this, two to one point and one to another.

    Mumbai and Myramar! Hmmmmm? Using an aged map one might find one while using a new uptodate map one might find the other!

    As of other kinds of maps, I have one that has a classification that requires it not to be made public. If I tell what kind of map it is, you could figure out why! Since the new laws that have come from 9/11 I cannot tell what kind of map it is so you could figure out why!! :)

    Now that I pause and think about it, I have other maps, of ancestral sites of a cousin Indian Tribe as well my own. Our practice is to not make public our ancestral sites because people go to those sites and rob us of our relics from antiquity.

    In fact, you can imagine the horror I felt as did several other Tribal members of my Tribe one day when we brought highway engineers to one of our "sacred" sites which included a burial ground off to one side of the main village.

    We found several of our grave sites molested, dug up by grave robbers, whose sole purpose was to find in the grave site, and take, the relics our people buried with our dead relative a couple of centuries ago!

    Sometimes we purposely are "lost in time" and "place" too! :)

    I guess Egypt doesn't hold to the same familial value I do?

  2. Of course, if the place is discovered by archaeology, this does nothing to support the reliability of the Bible. It's only what we don't find that counts.

    I think I've figured out how to be a good infidel.

  3. Steve there's also the case where the geographical description of the location has changed and so finding its modern remains become more difficult.

    A great examples of this are ancient Troy.

    Troy was on the Dardanelles in ancient times, but is now miles inland due to receding and changing shoreline. Accordingly Troy was thoroughly believed to have been mythical (because no one could find it) until Schliemann found it in 1870s/1880s on information from the British Diplomat Frank Calvert. Finding Troy instantly removed it from the annals of myth and placed it firmly in the realm of History. Scholarly attitudes about Troy likewise reflected this change in credibility.

  4. It reminds me of some of the directions you might get here in the Southeastern US:

    "Turn left where the old Johnson place used to be."

    "You can't see it from the road, but it's behind the trees on the other side of the field."

    "Turn right at White Oaks crossroads." (Crossroads are never marked. Locals just know them.)

    One of my favorites:

    "You can't get there from here."