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14270Re: [ANE-2] Re: salvage archaeology

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  • eliot braun
    May 10, 2012
      Raz et al.
        We live in the real world, unfortunately. I myself would like to see no reason for salvage work, but that is not realistic, as you all probably know. Recently I received a blog on the terrible problem of looting. I agree that it is a problem, but I also think, and I've stated this, that the bulk of destruction of the archaeological record around the world is due to development by officially sanctioned polities. Far more is destroyed by govts. than by looters in most countries. That is a crime that our successors will castigate us for. 
         Raz you are thinking of your experiences in Israel. I have news for you. They are virtually the same around the world in the ANE and in the Americas, where I've been occasionally. Salvage work is an art. You cannot imagine what I felt like when I worked at Yiftah'el in Israel and realized that in less than a week they were about to destroy the site! It prompted me to take a bulldozer (yes, a damnded bulldozer) to dig a deep trench to see what, if anything might be destroyed. I ended up destroying a part of a PPNB house, and saving a large part of the site for ca. 20 years until recently when another group did some more work. I paid a very heavy personal price for that and for writing that I thought that there was entirely too much digging going on; I still do. 
         Raz, you are a gadfly, which we need, but had you had the real feel for salvage work you might have stayed and contributed. I did it for 28 years and I'm proud that I managed, despite some really difficult times, to do some work I'm proud of. 
      Eliot Braun, Ph D
      Sr. Fellow WF Albright Institute of Archaeological Research, Jerusalem
      Associate Researcher Centre de Recherche Français de Jérusalem
      PO Box 21, Har Adar 90836 Israel
      Tel 972-2-5345687, Cell 972-50-2231096

      From: Raz Kletter <kletterr@...>
      To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Thursday, May 10, 2012 9:13 AM
      Subject: Re: [ANE-2] Re: Qeiyafa discoveries

      Salvage excavations must too be made in a scientific pace - just like
      Tel Rehov (an example not in dispute). In 95% of salvage excavations, there
      is no justification at all for pressuring the archaeologists to finish
      fast. If a house or a road or some military installation will be finished a
      month or two earlier/ later, it affects mainly budgets, and even that,
      by very few percents.
      Very few excavations are urgent, when delays are life-threatening or
      cause considerable public inconvenience; but these are *rare*.
      The pressures "to finish fast no matter what" are many times supported
      or even produced by archaeologists in power, who do not understand or do
      not care for archaeology, but for budgets and profits. They do not let
      excavation managers decide the pace of excavation. This is true everywhere,
      but especially for salvage excavations of "private" university companies,
      whose profits go to the pockets of universities and archaeological
      A person who created and continues to encourage this system complains
      now about a hasty pace of excavation; but only because its finds do not fit
      his theory. The word for it is hypocricity.
      In addition, even for Megiddo, one could find squares or loci excavated
      faster than the pace set as an example.
      Regardless: Douglas, you will end up eating your hat for lunch. An
      occupation layer must be excavated with the same meticolous care,
      whether the site has 1 layer or 1456. Removing fast a late layer in order
      to expose the Iron Age is an archaeological sin. With some other points I
      sympathise; but in these matters your defence ends up a discrimination.
      Raz Kletter

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