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Jamestown/Jonestown

In response to:

Politics and Archaeology from the September 22, 1994 issue

To the Editors:

How apposite of Amos Elon [“Politics and Archaeology,” NYR, September 22] to substitute “Jamestown” for “Jonestown” in comparing Israeli revisionist views of the Masada myth of mass suicide. To conflate the drug-crazed 20th-century cult encampment in the Guyanese jungle with the commerce-driven first English settlement in Virginia may, perhaps, highlight historical parallels previously unremarked.

It may be revealing to liken the Romans besieging Masada to Powhatan’s Indians. As a legendary national ancestress, Pocahontas rivals any in Palestine. And John Smith’s Generall Historie of Virginia matches the deft amalgam of hearsay with eye-witness and literary sources that marks Josephus on the Jews.

David Lowenthal
Middlesex, England

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