Friday, November 02, 2007

Failing to respect prehistoric treasures in Israel

The scene was straight out of an archaeologist's nightmare. Along the Jordan River, archaeological remains lay in heaps with no chance of ever being dated. The story behind hundreds of stone tools and animal bones was lost, along with whatever mystery slumbered beneath the soil.

Eight years later Dr. Naama Goren-Inbar, an archaeologist at The Hebrew University's Institute of Archaeology, is still angry about what happened.

In 1999 Goren-Inbar was excavating a site in Northern Israel called Gesher Benot Yaakov, when workers from the Kinneret Drainage Authority intervened. The crew was under orders to widen the river without affecting the excavations. In the end they dug up sections they were not supposed to touch and carted off archaeological material in lorries, rendering it scientifically useless.

Goren-Inbar blames the loss on the person who gave the orders but also says the event reflects a severe lack of awareness regarding prehistory in Israel.