Gold diggers ravage archeological site
Omri Efraim
Published: 09.01.12, 22:36
Comment Comment
Print comment Print comment
Back to article
23 Talkbacks for this article
1. Not surprising
Sarah B ,   U.S.A. / Israel   (01.09.12)
It was Bedouins who discovered the Dead Sea scrolls and other ancient texts, and chopped them up into little pieces to maximize the money they could make. No respect for Jewish antiquity whatsoever.
2. Shoot the bastards!
George Brown ,   New York   (01.10.12)
3. Bastards. A similar thing happened in Egypt and a while back
Henry from New York ,   USA   (01.10.12)
The Bedouin near Luxor decided to destroy the Aegean list so that they could sell the pieces (luckily high-res photos survive) and they did the same thing to the Mesha Stele (famous for the reference to "Omri, King of Israel", "Beit David" and "Yahweh") many years back. I know not all Bedouin are bad, but something needs to be done about these scum who are stealing like everything in the country belongs to them once they see it. What can be done, I leave to someone else as you can't have year-round security in some places.
4. the title was misleading
avi ,   n   (01.10.12)
I thought it was about blonde shiksas in Las Vegas
5. Wait, I thought it was "Haredim" who did this vandalism?
Kyle ,   Southpark, CO, USA   (01.10.12)
Make up your mind YNet!
6. To: Henry at No. 3
Sarah B ,   U.S.A. / Israel   (01.10.12)
Puts a whole new meaning to the Russian word "nyekulturny" (to all Russian speakers, forgive me if I have misspelled the word -- I have several languages, but Russian, alas, is not one of them). I find myself wondering if it is a Moslem or an Arab thing. Remember when the Taliban dynamited those ancient statues of Buddah? Two thousand years of culture; gone in a puff of smoke. And nary a single murmur of protest from the international community. It is extraordinarily difficult -- at least for me -- to understand such wanton disregard for history and culture. Especially -- coming as it does -- from people who go on the rampage at a cartoon poking gentle fun at a pedophile so-called "prophet." Then again, perhaps that says it all. I guess that if someone diddling underage girls is the founder and cornerstone of your so-called "religion," not much else matters. Disgusting.
7. Use landmines to discourage looting
BEN JABO ,   ISRAEL   (01.10.12)
There must be some lefotover clusters from the last Lebanon war, put them to use
8. Let them break rocks... on a chain gang.
Joel ,   New York, USA   (01.10.12)
9. 10 yrs hard labor: then deportation.
Destruction of history for money in such a blatant fashion is among the most despicable acts against culture one could imagine. They should get the absolute stiffest penalty to ensure they PAY JUST RETRIBUTION and to DISSUADE other savages from destroying historical sites.
10. #6, I don't quite follow. Which is mispelled? Did you mean
Henry from New York ,   USA   (01.10.12)
something else? I remember reading about that as a kid and hoping something would be done to restore the statues. Religion is irrelevant in this case though. The Bedouin are interested in one thing and one thing only - Cash.
11. #7, I know you're probably joking as that is probably the
Henry from New York ,   USA   (01.10.12)
worst idea I have ever heard, no offence. =p It's kind of hard to be on the watch for landmines when you to your digsite at 05:00. Archaeology students are tough, but we're not indestructable. Even worse, I cannot imagine how many pickaxes would be ruined! (a pickaxe's death is meant to be by having its handle crack in two during use. Anything else is not an honourable death) Also, one does have to worry about the inevitable drunk excavator showing up on-site (one of my friends got so wasted that he thought puppies were being tossed into a fire for half of the morning after one of our end-of-session parties. Damn you, Arak!)
12. #5, Kharedim do it for religious reasons and Bedouin do it
Henry from New York ,   USA   (01.10.12)
for economic. It's not exactly unheard of. I remember a story that one of our area supervisors told us about where they had this wonderful shade cloth that kept in the cool air and kept out the sun. The Bedouin nearby took a liking to it and made off with it in the night. They wanted to be paid for it if I remember correctly and they had a hard time saying not to armed men (archaeologists have pickaxes and tariot, but no guns).
13. Destruction of history is unforgivable. Set a PRECEDENT
Hippocrates ,   Earth   (01.10.12)
oh leftists court system (a joke i know, only for 11 year old jewish girls do they set precedents)....these guys should be put away for years and fined 100's of thousands of shekels to pay towards more archeological digs and preservation. "out forefathers"...what a joke, your forefathers are Bedouins from Libya. The 2000 yr old well was more likely Jewish.
14. israel has more them one archaeological site...
jeeez   (01.10.12)
15. To: Henry at No. 10
Sarah B ,   U.S.A. / Israel   (01.10.12)
"Nyekulturny" (Russian word for uncultured) might be misspelled I'm afraid it would not be possible to restore the statues destroyed by the Taliban. They were completely pulverized. I disagree with you on one point -- religion is very much involved; in this case the complete and utter lack of respect for other religions seems to be a hallmark of Islam. There are endless examples.
16. #14 - Israel has many sites, most of which are very visible.
Henry from New York ,   USA   (01.10.12)
They are in large mounds called Tels. If you set a precedent of letting people get away with thievery then you get the current archaeological disaster in Egypt. No one wants that in Israel.
17. #15, ha, I just realised that culture is a loanword in
Henry from New York ,   USA   (01.10.12)
Russian (the message you responded to was written at about 01:15). Right, that would definitely be the case that they see them as the remnants of pagans and such. We have seen it places like Egypt where the Sphinx sustained heavy damage to its nose. Christians weren't much better though when they first starting excavating though. In those cases, it was just incompetence and ignorance of what constituted good archaeological method. Oh, and I regret to say that the Copts took their toll on many a tomb by carving graffiti. Of course this graffiti is now part of the record.
18. #11 Henry - It's not a joke
BEN JABO ,   ISRAEL   (01.10.12)
Minefields are mapped out when mines are being placed, in order that the people that have placed the minds shouldn't stumble over them There's another variety of mines that comes to mind,"Bouncing Betty's", they can step on one, it won't explode, until the remove their foot, at which time, the mine will remove their foot and most of their body permanently Five A.M., I fairly certain you have heard about flashlights
19. #18. Then it is a very very poor idea; I'm sorry.
Henry from New York ,   USA   (01.11.12)
You don't seriously think we would place mines, do you? If one went off by accident it could damage the site pretty badly. Imagine if there happens to be a nice collection of painted pottery underneath one, or god-forbid, sherds with writing? Another problem is that it is often necessary to open up new areas and that would require moving the mines, which is very dangerous. Add to that the fact that quite a few notable sites are visited by tourists, many of whom are American (dumb), and the likely event that at least one would step on a mine and no one will want to visit. You would also have to information put into the release forms for volunteers and there are few people that would sign such a thing. Even if they did and a volunteer stepped on one, it would bankrupt the dig to go through the legal proceedings initiated by their parents; any dig. Remember that the average age of a volunteer is about twenty. We would not waste money on flashlights (other than in the container) when there is only a period of real darkness at the time we are going to the site. By the time we get there it is bright enough to find tools and the sun has come up fully after an hour. If they were marked though, wouldn't the looters also be able to spot where the mines are thus making them erroneous?
20. Henry, the site is already being damaged
BEN JABO ,   ISRAEL   (01.11.12)
Mined areas are clearly marked with signs in English, Hebrew & Arabic, markers and tapes If the situation remains as is, there will be nothing for the tourist to see or to be excavated I really dont' think the looters would want to tinker with mines, for one basic reason, it takes skill to de-activate them I was in the Combat Engineers USA army, I disliked mines intensely, they're far too erratic I was also in the IDF, a common phrase was (translated into English) "Went up on a mine" which meant it was stepped on and went bang If you were to look at some of the digs, they have viewing platforms for the visitors, they can see & not touch
21. #20 - But the idea is to not cause further damage. Besides,
Henry from New York ,   USA   (01.11.12)
Oftentimes a site is reburied for the sake of preservation and picking around for mines is not an ideal job for a 20-something year-old. I am an advocate of wounding looters on sight, but this approach is just impractical at best and dangerous at worst. Having mines marked means that anyone will know where they are and if you surround the site with mines that means that no one will be able to enter to work if further excavations are done (some sites are re-visited, like Tel Megiddo, where I work in the even years), You could have someone deactivate them and make a corridor, but you'd need to mark that too for the volunteers and looters could find that as well. The best approach is to put up heavy fencing and hire security guards during a dig season like we do at Tel Kabri and have a heavy large gate placed at the access road (you would need a bulldozer to get through the gate at Kabri). I have been to many sites and generally they only have viewing platforms in very places and usually just one. Another concern is that children often do not obey the rules and love to run into the areas (I can attest to this and it is very aggravating when you need to make sure they don't run to the spot you're about to bring your pickaxe down on). Oh and thank you for your service to our country, good See-Bee. =)
22. Henry, I'll make it brief
BEN JABO ,   ISRAEL   (01.12.12)
How about you're protecting the sites with your personal presence guarding them ? Otherwise they will continue to be looted as they have been by grave robbers of the centuries Heavy fencing can be tunneled under
23. #22 - The problem with that is that we only excavate for six
Henry from New York ,   USA   (01.12.12)
weeks out of the year, typically in the summer (students are out of school and ready to come work). That is how most sites work (The Ir David site being a notable exception). We can easily guard them during a dig (at least before noon as you work during the morning) as we are heavily armed with pickaxes, mini pickaxes that we call patiches (not hammers), and tareas (large hoes; I'm honestly not sure if this is the Hebrew word or what it is). During the night volunteers usually head off to a nearby kibbutz that has bungalow accommodations. At a place like Kabri we hire a guard (who sleeps on top of the container in a tent) and at Megiddo we have the park security which doesn't do much from what I have seen. So you see the pickle we're in. Even during the Megiddo dig when we descend from the Tel, they tell us to take our backpacks with us though lest the Bedouin come around and look for nice things in them.
Back to article