Science center exhibits La Sierra war artifacts collection
July 3, 2012
By Darla Martin Tucker
RIVERSIDE, Calif. – (www.lasierra.edu) When ancient Near Eastern civilizations fought their adversaries they used swords, spears and arrows. But how did they make these weapons, how much damage did they do, and how did kings supply their far-flung troops?
A new, multidimensional exhibit at the Western Science Center in Hemet, in partnership with La Sierra University, helps answer these and other questions through a display of ancient weapons and cultural artifacts, audio-visual media and a hands-on weapons replica table. Visitors experience the sights and sounds of ancient war, preparations for battle, learn about the rituals performed before going to war, and ways in which ancient wars impacted history.
The exhibit, “Weapons & War in the Iron Age,” is comprised of artifacts from La Sierra’s extensive collection, some excavated by La Sierra archaeologists from ancient sites in Jordan, and some from sites in Israel and Palestine. Most of the artifacts, including arrows, spears and swords, date from 1200BC to 600BC during the Iron Age of the Near East when iron became the prevalent material in making tools and weapons.
“Weapons & War in the Iron Age” will run through the fall. Western Science Center admission is adults $8; senior citizens and students $6.50; youth $6; children age four and under free; active-duty military free. The science center is located at 2345 Searl Parkway, Hemet. For additional information call 951-791-0033, or visit www.WesternScienceCenter.org. Hours are Tues. – Sun., 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. The Bank of Hemet and Eric and Gisela Gosch are sponsoring the exhibit.
The science center held an opening reception on June 21 attended by La Sierra archaeology professors, science center board directors and visitors.
Bill Marshall, a member of the center’s Board of Directors and a retired superintendent of the San Jacinto Unified School District described the Weapons & War exhibit as “fascinating,” particularly as it reveals the productivity of past civilizations. “I’ve always …believed you can learn from what people did in the past. It’s wise to know where you came from and what people did prior to you,” said Marshall.
“I think it’s wonderful. We have nothing like this here,” said resident Peggie Sherman. “Most museums of this type are far away.” Her daughter, Delaina Nelson will teach sixth grade this school year and said she will direct her students to the center and exhibit as a potential extra credit project.
Board director and former State Senator David Kelley also attended the reception. He was instrumental in securing approximately $30 million for the construction of the science center created to house tens of thousands of prehistoric bones, including mammoth and sloth bones, and other archaeological artifacts discovered during excavation in the 1990s of the Diamond Valley Lake reservoir.
“I think the people had to be really strong to wield those swords,” commented Kelley after viewing the exhibit. “They’re heavy and they’re awkward, and you kind of wonder how much damage did they do in combat. Your enemy’s going to have to be right on top of you.”
La Sierra professors Larry Geraty, Doug Clark and Kent Bramlett each gave brief talks about their extensive work in archaeology, particularly in Jordan, experiences in the politically charged Middle East, and about historical political events and wars related to the exhibit artifacts.
Bramlett, La Sierra assistant archaeology professor, described the siege in 701BC of the Judean city of Lacish. Some of the La Sierra artifacts at the science center date from the time of the battle and originate from that general area. The fierce Assyrian King Sennacherib attacked the hilltop town of Lacish when Judah’s King Hezekiah refused to pay the Assyrian leader the required tribute. The Assyrians built a siege ramp consisting of 13,000-19,000 tons of rock and earth to break into the city which was fortified by double stone walls and a double gate complex built into a tower. The Assyrians eventually overthrew and burned Lacish and tortured its leaders. The city was one of 46 Judean communities Sennacherib boasted of destroying in retaliation for Hezekiah’s rebellion, and perhaps one of his most important battles as it was memorialized in detail on wall reliefs in his palace at Nineveh.
Asked Bramlett, “what were the human costs of these battles? How did the king judge the human costs?”
PR Contact: Larry Becker
Executive Director of University Relations
La Sierra University