Blogs > Cliopatria > More Noted Things

Apr 11, 2006 3:51 pm

More Noted Things

The run-up to the release of The Da Vinci Code on film has been pretty spectacular. We've witnessed the trial of plagiarism charges and National Geographic's release of the Judas gospel. Now, Dr. Tom Asbridge, Lecturer in Medieval History at Queen Mary, University of London, claims a place in the sun for archaeologists' finding of the earliest remains of the Knights Templar."They can be dated to the exact day -- August 29, 1179 -- that they were killed by Saladin, the feared Muslim leader who captured the fortress," claims the Daily Telegraph."Never before has it been possible to trace their remains to such an exact time in history,' Mr Asbridge said."This discovery is the equivalent of the Holy Grail to archaeologists and historians. It is unparalleled." But those Other Damned Medievalists are having none of the hype. The equivalent of finding the Holy Grail would be, ah, finding the Holy Grail; Templar remains can't be all that rare a find; and what evidence yields such a specific date? Of course, the ancient historians are amused that anyone finds medieval remains of much interest.

Richard Ouzounian,"He left ‘no maggot lonely'," Toronto Star, 9 April, looks back on the life and work of Samuel Beckett in the centennial of his birth. [Have you noticed that 1906 was a big year for major births?]

Seymour M. Hersh,"The Iran Plans," New Yorker, 8 April, is the article to which Taylor Owen referred and about which you've been hearing so much. See also: Daniel Drezner. When administration policy makers have lost Drezner, they've lost.

Finally, Ann Althouse points out that the New York Times has hired Stanley Fish as a blogger. That's unlikely enough, but they put him behind the TimesSelect wall, so you couldn't link to his blog even if you wanted. Moreover, Fish quotes a specific blogger by name and, ta da, he doesn't even link to him! It's a bit like using brother Gutenberg's printing press as a surface on which the monks copy out another manuscript.

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Thomas Asbridge - 4/13/2006

I would like to clarify a few points regarding the article ‘First Knights Templar are discovered’ published by the Australian Daily Telegraph on 10 April 2006. I have never maintained that the human remains unearthed at Jacob’s Ford are ‘the first provable example of actual Knights Templar’. The castle of Jacob’s Ford was garrisoned by Templars when it fell in 1179, but it also contained many other soldiers, servants and builders. There is a strong possibility that one or more of the bodies discovered on site might be that of a Templar, but this could never be stated with absolute certainty. I am quoted in the article as stating that ‘never before has it been possible to trace their remains to such an exact time in history’, with the quote positioned to imply that ‘their remains’ refers to Templars, but, in fact, ‘their remains’ was a general reference to those engaged in the wider crusading endeavour of the twelfth century. Similarly, I am quoted as saying: ‘This discovery is the equivalent of the Holy Grail to archaeologists and historians. It is unparalleled’. When made, this statement did not relate to the supposed discovery of Templar remains, but to the discovery of the long lost castle of Jacob’s Ford. The story of this fortress is both fascinating and revelatory, but not for the reasons outlined in the Telegraph’s article.
Dr Thomas Asbridge
Senior Lecturer in Medieval History
Queen Mary, University of London

John H. Lederer - 4/11/2006

Several people have suggested that this is a defensive reaction. Absent the text of the fatwa, I do not know.

Some of the Islamic defenses of 9/11 that I read were quite troubling in terms of the ethics of an attack as opposed to defense.

As you suggested in a post on a different matter, the key to the attack being ethical (given unbelievers, etc. etc.) is a formal warning.

I wonder whether the "wipe off the map" speech constitutes such a warning?

John H. Lederer - 4/11/2006

I unfortunately did not bookmark the article and cannot seem to get a good search of the Telegraph but I do recall the article saying that of the imams involved in the fatwa one was a main disciple/successor/ of Khomeini and another was close to Ahmadinejad.

That, of course, is not the same as a system of caommand and control, but it did suggest that, at least in Iran's frame of reference, these were not fringe people.

Jonathan Dresner - 4/11/2006

So, they're no better than us, then...

Oscar Chamberlain - 4/11/2006

What we do not know now--and perhaps Iran does not either--is what sort of command and control they would put their nukes under.

Oscar Chamberlain - 4/11/2006


That disconcerting bit of news sent me scurrying to see how spiritual leaders fit in the chain of command. I have not found a firmly authoritative answer. The best seemed to be from Wikipedia.

This Wikipedia article indicates that there are parallel military forces, with the Revolutionary Guard Corps being more closely allied to the Islamic clergy.

Again, according to Wiki the Air Force has separate leadership. However, it is the Revolutionary Guards that control the missile forces.

John H. Lederer - 4/11/2006

I did not see this reported until I saw a reference in a secondary source.

From the UK Telegraph:
"Iran's hardline spiritual leaders have issued an unprecedented new fatwa, or holy order, sanctioning the use of atomic weapons against its enemies."

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