Biblical Archaeology Review 41:2, March/April 2015

Is It Possible to Protect Our Cultural Heritage?

By Hershel Shanks

We all condemn looting. But there is little talk about what can effectively be done about it. Telling people not to buy what may be looted antiquities makes the authorities feel good but has virtually no effect on looting.

In the September 2014 issue of the distinguished British journal known as PEQ (the Palestine Exploration Quarterly, founded in 1865), editor David Jacobson laments the almost “total destruction” of an excavated site (in the West Bank in the area controlled by Israel) and another site “in jeopardy” of destruction (in the area controlled by the Palestinian Authority). Both sites have been “ransacked by treasure seekers on an almost daily basis.” Jacobson complains that the site had been left “unfenced and unprotected”—as if this would have helped. “The authorities are clearly not living up to their responsibilities,” charges Jacobson.

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