Biblical Archaeology Review 23:3, May/June 1997

Stop the Charade: It’s Time to Sell Artifacts

By Avner Raban

I have been a professional archaeologist for almost 40 years, spending the better part of my career in the field or underwater, excavating and studying archaeological remains. I consider myself a devotee of the “New Archaeology”—more fascinated by data that illustrate ancient technology or ancient sea levels than by “treasure” such as gold coins, jewelry or even marble statues.

During all these years I have been burdened by one major problem shared with almost all my colleagues—the lack of financial resources to process and publish the finds properly.

For the last four years, I have directed a large-scale, year-round excavation project at Caesarea Maritima that has been lavishly financed as far as the fieldwork is concerned—the process of exposing archaeological strata. But when it comes to financing the scientific research and preparing the processed data for final publication, this, we are told, is not the government’s business: “Why should the government cover the cost of pursuing the professional career of a particular archaeologist?” I am told.

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