Monday, March 14, 2011

The Disappearance of Artifacts from Sinai

Some important artifacts excavated by Israeli archaeologists in the Sinai Peninsula but since returned to the Egyptian government have disappeared, according to the former director of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Zahi Hawass.  Hershel Shanks writes of this revelation from a recent interview in which Hawass criticized Israel for not publishing the results of the Kuntillet Ajrud excavations. 

In an editorial in the Jerusalem Post, Shanks declares that both problems have been or shortly will be resolved.

On March 3, the Egyptian press reported that 30 truckloads of antiquities had been moved for safekeeping from the Qantara storage facilities to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Included were “Sinai artifacts that were retrieved from Israel following the signing of the Egypt-Israel peace treaty.”

Concerning the publication of the excavations, Shanks reports:

I subsequently inquired about this of Joseph Aviram, president of the Israel Exploration Society. He told me that the publication of the inscriptions had recently been reassigned to two leading epigraphers, Shmuel Ahituv and Esther Eshel. They have completed their work and await only the contribution of excavator Ze’ev Meshel. 

Aviram hopes to have the publication out this year. But, still, that’s 35 years after the excavation.

The artifacts involved include the Kuntillet Ajrud inscriptions that mention “Yahweh ... and his Asherah.”



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