Biblical Archaeology Review 37:1, January/February 2011

First Person: Ketef Hinnom

Is the IAA’s Jon Seligman getting the job done?

By Hershel Shanks

Those of you who were BAR subscribers in the summer of 2009, when we published a double-sized magazine to celebrate our 200th issue, will recall our feature story on the tombs of Ketef Hinnom in Jerusalem where excavator (and author) Gabriel Barkay described this extraordinary site in which he found an undisturbed tomb with treasures beyond belief, including two silver amulets containing the oldest Biblical texts ever discovered, 400 years older than the Dead Sea Scrolls.a For those of you who weren’t subscribers then (or who may have forgotten), we have posted this article on our Web site.

At the end of his article, Barkay lamented:

“Today the seven burial caves of Ketef Hinnom lie hidden behind the Menachem Begin Heritage Center, unmarked, unguarded and unprotected. They deserve better.”

I had earlier tried to remedy this deplorable situation. I had interested leading South African philanthropist Mendel Kaplan in the project, and we had a meeting with the head of the Begin Center. Mendel even brought a leading Jerusalem museum designer to the meeting. Alas, Mendel later became ill and, after a long siege, died in 2009. The Ketef Hinnom project foundered.

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