Biblical Archaeology Review 9:1, January/February 1983

Queries & Comments

Dayan No Archaeological Hero

To the Editor:

If Moshe Dayan lives on heroically in history (see “The Dayan Saga—A Man and His Archaeological Collection,” BAR 08:05, by Leroy Aarons), let it be as a modern-Judas Maccabaeus. An archaeological hero he was not. Mr. Aarons does not distinguish between an archaeologist and a plunderer of archaeological sites. He labels Dayan “controversial” only in regard to the legality of his acquisitions. Nowhere does he indicate that Dayan (or the thieves who procured artifacts for his collection) exercised professional archaeological discipline in their excavations.

An undisturbed site is a unique book of history, one that may contain information about old civilizations, information that exists nowhere else in the world. The pot-hunter destroys the book unread after tearing out the pictures. There is not enough money in the world to compensate for this irretrievable loss of human knowledge.

It is possible for a man (e.g. Yigael Yadin) to have talent for both archaeology and statesmanship. Why lend glamour and dignity to Dayan’s million-dollar accomplishment? How many greedy idiots have you sent out shopping for shovels to start on their own millions?

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