Biblical Archaeology Review 25:6, November/December 1999

First Person: Biting the Hand That Feeds You

Taking ingratitude to new heights

By Hershel Shanks

I feel betrayed. Her name is Karen Vitelli. She teaches at Indiana University.

For years I have been concerned over what I call archaeology’s dirty secret: Archaeologists often fail to publish final reports on their digs. The problem was (and is) endemic. I talked to several philanthropists in an effort to address the problem, but failed repeatedly to enlist their support. Then, nearly five years ago, I approached a leading philanthropist and collector of antiquities named Leon Levy. Out of those talks grew the Shelby White-Leon Levy Publications Program, named for Leon and his wife, Shelby White. To date, the White-Levy grants have exceeded $1,600,000. In addition, Ms. White and Mr. Levy have supported the Biblical Archaeology Society’s publication of two scholarly volumes, Archaeology’s Publication Problem, volumes 1–2 (1996–1999), in which more than 20 scholars address various aspects of the problem.

At one fell swoop, Karen Vitelli has done more damage to support for the archaeological enterprise than anyone in memory.

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