Biblical Archaeology Review 23:4, July/August 1997

Queries & Comments

Looting the Hand That Feeds Us

Because I am an archaeologist, a friend gave me his copy of BAR to examine. After I looked at the table of contents, I thought that your magazine might be interesting. After paging through it, however, I became upset with what I saw.

BAR appears to support the field and to increase interest and awareness in archaeology, but your advertisements do not. I saw seven different ads and three classifieds, all of which advertised artifacts for sale.

Archaeology is the means by which we can learn about ourselves by examining our past. By allowing people to sell artifacts stolen from ancient sites, you are encouraging the worldwide destruction of the archaeological record. Yes, I saw the fine print that said, “Advertising in Biblical Archaeology Review does not necessarily imply endorsement.” However, your choice to allow looters to sell their finds in your magazine certainly promotes the international trade in antiquities. The only way to effectively protect sites around the world from looters is to help to slow down the trade in artifacts. By allowing groups and individuals who deal in antiquities to advertise in your publication, you are working against the field of archaeology.

We can only learn about the past through the examination of artifacts in context. If you stop promoting the antiquities market by deciding to not allow looters to advertise in your magazine, you can continue to have interesting sites to write about in the future.

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