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Biblical Archaeology Review 4:2, June 1978

Is Withholding Pictures of Archaeological Finds Justifiable?

BAR lauds Avigad's scholarship but finds his refusal to release pictures indefensible

By Hershel Shanks

We are delighted to report that Professor Nachman Avigad has published in a recent issue of the Israel Exploration Journal a report and picture of the “Justinian” inscription which he found in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Professor Avigad’s article in that distinguished scholarly journal is entitled “A Building Inscription of the Emperor Justinian and the Nea in Jerusalem (Preliminary Note).” In the first paragraph he states “The purpose of this paper is to report briefly on this inscription in order to communicate it to interested readers as soon as possible.” We think Professor Avigad is quite right to make this material available before all of his thoughts about the inscription and research concerning it have been completed. Any qualifications or additional ideas will be welcome at a later date. In the meantime, everyone now has access to the preliminary information.

We hope that Professor Avigad will do likewise with pictures of the Jerusalem Cardo showing its full expanse and the Babylonian arrowheads which were shot at Jerusalem’s defenders during the siege of 586 B.C. These finds were uncovered by Professor Avigad several years ago.

As for Professor Avigad’s comments published elsewhere in this issue, we confess to being upset and disturbed. In our March 1978 issue (Queries & Comments, BAR 04:01), we said of Professor Avigad:

“We yield to no one in our admiration for Professor Avigad as a scholar and as a warm, kind human being. On the matter of his refusal to release pictures of his finds, however, we must take a stand.”

This continues to be our position, despite Professor Avigad’s uncharacteristically vituperative response.

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