Eilat Mazar Denied Opportunity To Finish Palace of David Dig
Eilat Mazar is upset that she is not in charge of a small dig at the entrance to the City of David, blasting Elad and the Israel Antiquities Authority for carrying out excavations that are nothing more than a “tourism gimmick.” Elad claims Mazar is motivated “for reasons of ego and credit only, camouflaged as pseudo-professional complaints.” The story is reported by Haaretz.
"To my astonishment I discovered that for over a year Elad, together with the Antiquities Authority, has been secretly planning a tourism gimmick called the 'Jeremiah's Pit Project," writes Mazar in her letter, noting that the excavation is only two meters away from the excavation area that she directed between 2005 and 2008. She says that she wanted to continue digging in the present area, but was prevented from doing so "for logistical reasons, since north of the site the Antiquities Authority permitted Elad to build a special events hall," and because of the area's proximity to a residential building and a road.
Mazar claims that the excavation in the area of the pit contravenes several accepted practices in archaeology, among them, the digging up of an unusually small area of a mere "two squares," or 10 square meters, which makes it difficult to analyze the findings in relation to the overall area. An excavation of this size, claims Mazar, is made only in situations where there is no other choice.
Mazar is also critical of the diggers' intention to destroy the wall of the pit, which has not been properly investigated. She also notes that the dig "interferes with the nearby excavations," which will undermine her ability to complete the research in the area. She claims that it is not acceptable to transfer an area being excavated by one archaeologist to another one, without the former's consent.
Mazar’s 2005-2008 excavations were funded by Elad. I don’t think she would act this way if she thought there was any hope of ever working with them in the City of David again. The article contains more details and the responses of the IAA and Elad. There is surely more to this story than what is contained in letters and legal replies. Mazar may feel a bit like a spurned lover, refused the opportunity to dig in the last available area near her palace of David.