The Staffordshire Hoard and the Distance of the Past

Samuel Collins at Marginalia:

Herein lies the difference between the popular reception of a discovery like the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife and the war-gear of the Staffordshire Hoard. Never in the coverage of the hoard and its discovery was there any serious suggestion that there is a political or ethnic community anywhere that is, in any Jeffersonian sense, the lineal descendants of the makers of the hoard. Past politics, in this reading, is just that: the stuff of the past. No one raised the idea that the understanding of modern politics or political identities might be somehow altered by the hoard, or that that those who used and buried the hoard share any important connection to the political communities of modern Britain or elsewhere. All the popular writing that was done about the hoard, still only a small fraction of the ink spilled over the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife, keep the hoard firmly situated in a remote and unfamiliar past, one where it makes sense to summon up as points of comparison either unrelated but spectacular treasures (“Staffordshire’s Tutankhamen”as a the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow put it) or Middle Earth or Westeros.

more here.