Biblical Archaeology Review 8:5, September/October 1982

The Dayan Saga—The Man and His Archaeological Collection

By Leroy Aarons

Beginning October 14, 1982, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem will exhibit a few selected highlights from the Moshe Dayan collection of antiquities, which the museum recently acquired for $1 million following Dayan’s death a year ago. In this preview, about 15 of the outstanding examples of the huge collection, comprising 800 to 900 objects, will be exhibited publicly for the first time. A full catalogued exhibition will not be seen until sometime in 1985.

The story of the Dayan collection is intimately intertwined with the story of the man himself—brilliant, controversial and dramatic. One of Israel’s great generals and a flamboyant international personality, Dayan saw his reputation as an infallible strategist sag disastrously during the October, 1973, Yom Kippur War when he absorbed the blame for Israel’s initial setbacks at the hands of Syria and Egypt.

He bounced back to become foreign minister in the Begin administration and figured centrally in the Camp David negotiations. Stricken by cancer in 1979 and defeated badly in a political comeback attempt in June of 1981, Dayan died last October.

In his last book he recounted a frequent dream of death, “ … to lie on a blanket of soft earth and rotting leaves, in a cave … on a hill that looks out over the Valley of Jezreel; to lie quietly, to rest, to forget all, to think of nothing.”a

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