Thursday, December 21, 2006

Archeological Crime in the Occupied Territories

'An "archaeological heart of darkness" is how Greenberg has described Israel's behavior in the territories since 1967.

International law prohibits archaeological digs in occupied territories, other than rescue digs, and the findings may not be removed from those territories - to do so is considered antiquities theft.

"We were taught in university that archaeology is the planned destruction of an antiquities site," Greenberg notes. "A dig that does not conclude with an orderly publication is pretty much tantamount to antiquities theft." And that is exactly what has gone on in the West Bank, he maintains, especially in recent years.

Greenberg believes that excavating in occupied territory is problematic. "An occupying force arrives from outside and makes unilateral decisions, without consulting the local residents," he says. "Archaeology has social significance, because you are taking part of the landscape and giving the archaeologists a kind of veto power over it. That's why archaeologists must be transparent; we must report to the public on what we are doing. We, as historians, must be sensitive to such matters. We have to know that what is being done in the territories is a crime."

Buried treasure that's kept in the dark (haaretz.com)

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