Biblical Archaeology Review 30:2, March/April 2004

A Tale of Two Meetings

Issue of Antiquities Splits Scholars in Atlanta

By Hershel Shanks

The decision was unanimous: Antiquities collectors are criminals, responsible for the worldwide scourge of looting.

That was the theme of the annual meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR), held in Atlanta late last November. ASOR, the leading professional organization of Near Eastern archaeologists, was only one of several scholarly associations separately encamped in Georgia for their “annual meetings.” Others included the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL), the American Academy of Religion (AAR) and the Near Eastern Archaeological Society (NEAS). In all, more than 9,000 scholars gave well over a thousand papers both obscure and general—from “Bioarchaeological Study of Plastered Skulls” to “Erotic Conversion as a Response to the Priest Pedophilia Crisis” to “Shifting Ethnic Identities in Iron I Northern Moab” to “The Rhetorical Artistry of Aramaic Daniel.”

Elaborating on the broad-based attack on antiquities collectors, Amir Ganor, head of the Robbery Prevention Unit of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), was explicit: The high-end collectors of museum-quality objects are nothing but “prominent criminals.”

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