Biblical Archaeology Review 39:2, March/April 2013

Wet-Sift the Megiddo Dumps!

Wet-Sifting Is Invaluable for Recovering Small Finds

By Hershel Shanks

I’m looking for a clever aphorism saying that good things sometimes come from something bad. I have in mind the Muslim Waqf’s illegal excavation on the Temple Mount to accommodate a new, larger entrance to the underground Marwani mosque. Truckloads of dirt were dug without regard to archaeological method and then unceremoniously dumped into the Kidron Valley.

When archaeology student Zachi Dvira (Zweig) started rummaging around in the dump, the Israel Antiquities Authority had him arrested for digging without a permit. Zachi’s teacher, prominent Jerusalem archaeologist Gaby Barkay, obtained a permit, and the two of them initiated their famous “sifting project.” With the help of tens of thousands of volunteers, they have been wet-sifting the archaeologically rich dirt—and have discovered thousands of objects from ancient times, including finds from the First and Second Temple periods.a

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