Biblical Archaeology Review 22:3, May/June 1996


Biblical Archaeology Review

This issue features a story about what may be the world’s greatest private collection of ancient Semitic epigraphs (see “Magnificent Obsession”). Many scholars will have nothing to do with these pieces because they came from the antiquities market; they were not excavated by professional archaeologists. In most cases, we do not know where they came from.

But there is a common assumption, especially among the self-righteous claque that wants to put antiquities dealers out of business, that they came from illegal excavations. But seldom, if ever, is the question asked: Where do these pieces come from?

The answer may vary depending on the particular artifact or kind of artifact we are considering. So let’s start, in this issue, by considering the important bulla that appeared on the cover of BAR 22:02, which happens to be in the same collection as those described in “Magnificent Obsession.” The bulla is a small piece of clay impressed with the seal of Baruch, the friend, confidant and scribe of the prophet Jeremiah.

Here are six possibilities. Perhaps readers will have other suggestions:

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