Biblical Archaeology Review 3:3, September 1977

A Heritage in Danger

By Joan Borsten

Many of Israel’s archaeological sites—among them Tell Dan, Gezer, Beit Yerach, Tell Mor, Beit Shean, Ashdod, the citadel at Ramat Rachel and the temple at Nahariya—are being slowly destroyed by the elements because after excavation they were not preserved and restored.

How critical the situation is depends on whom you talk to. The Department of Antiquities and the National Park Authority, who together share responsibility for preservation say that they are “concerned.” But, they add, they don’t have adequate funds. (Both have limited government budgets which are partially related to the number of paid admissions received by their sites in any given year).

Israeli archaeologists believe that unless something is done now, future generations will be dependent on museum exhibits and photographs for their link to the land and its history.

One of the most tragic examples of what happens when preservation does not immediately follow excavation can be found at Tell Arad, several miles west of modern Arad. This double site, uncovered between 1962 and 1967, contains a marvelous Israelite citadel built in the 10th century B.C., which existed from the time of King Solomon through the last days of the Judean kingdom. The outstanding discovery at Arad was the temple which stood in the northwest corner of the citadel—the first such sanctuary to be uncovered by excavations and in many ways similar to Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem. It also shows a striking resemblance to the Tabernacle in the desert.

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