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taking sherds from sites in Israel?

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  • cejo@uchicago.edu
    Dear Joe and others, Joe wrote on Monday, Nov. 26th: ...I and many other colleagues used to take tourists as a tour guide to the City of David excavations to
    Message 1 of 7 , Dec 1, 2007
      Dear Joe and others,

      Joe wrote on Monday, Nov. 26th:

      "...I and many other colleagues used to take tourists as a tour guide to the City of David
      excavations to collect sherds which had been put aside by the archaeologist, the late Yigal
      Shiloh. This was done to provide the foreign visitor/volunteer/institutions coming to the site
      something which came from a controlled excavation and as I volunteered there from time to time I
      and others looked upon this as a positive step. Many sites at this time had piles of shards which,
      having been discarded after study, were set aside for this purpose..."

      Can you clarify? Are you saying that Shiloh as well as other excavators, allowed visitors to take
      excavated archaeological materials away from sites with them? Is / was this practice common in
      Israel? Was it legal at the time? Is it legal now?

      Thanks,

      -Chuck Jones-
    • Joe Zias
      Collecting sherds or what is also known as sherding has been illegal ever since I can remember as surface surveys are an important part of the profession. In
      Message 2 of 7 , Dec 2, 2007
        Collecting sherds or what is also known as 'sherding' has been illegal ever since I can remember as surface surveys are an important part of the profession. In fact, some scholars believe that areas should be rechecked every 25 yrs of so as new material resurfaces from time to time. This is done in a systematic way by trained scholars and published which is why we forbid it (tourists/collectors) according to the antiquities law. As for the City of David dig, this is not sherding in the sense that the pottery was cleaned, 'read' and what was of no scientific or commercial value simply piled outside the dig by the road so that individuals could take a piece of pottery from the City of David home. It was hoped that this sherd would reduce the need for the tourists to buy something from the dealers which in many instances was obtained illegally. The tourists were not greedy in the sense that they usually took but one sherd which was then 'read' by the tourist guide, if he
        knew pottery, until one 'entrepreneur' decided to remove the whole pile which in a short time was advertised for sale on the pages of BAR. As a result, within the IAA, after pottery restoration, the sherds were buried in a safe place to prevent any 'repeat performances'. I, as a tourist guide, like many other guides familiar with the needs of the profession explained to the public that archaeological sites are not 'born again' and every illegal activity eventually means a loss to history. They usually understood.

        Joe Zias (AKA tourist guide)

        cejo@... wrote: Dear Joe and others,

        Joe wrote on Monday, Nov. 26th:

        "...I and many other colleagues used to take tourists as a tour guide to the City of David
        excavations to collect sherds which had been put aside by the archaeologist, the late Yigal
        Shiloh. This was done to provide the foreign visitor/volunteer/institutions coming to the site
        something which came from a controlled excavation and as I volunteered there from time to time I
        and others looked upon this as a positive step. Many sites at this time had piles of shards which,
        having been discarded after study, were set aside for this purpose..."

        Can you clarify? Are you saying that Shiloh as well as other excavators, allowed visitors to take
        excavated archaeological materials away from sites with them? Is / was this practice common in
        Israel? Was it legal at the time? Is it legal now?

        Thanks,

        -Chuck Jones-





        Joe Zias www.joezias.com
        Anthropology/Paleopathology

        Science and Antiquity Group - Jerusalem
        Jerusalem, Israel



        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • arenmaeir
        Although at present this is against the Israeli antiquities law, I for one would be very happy if licensed archaeological excavations were permitted by law to
        Message 3 of 7 , Dec 2, 2007
          Although at present this is against the Israeli antiquities law, I
          for one would be very happy if licensed archaeological excavations
          were permitted by law to sell discarded pottery sherds (meaning body
          sherds that have been collected in official survey and excavations,
          washed, "read," and discarded as of no use), which in the current
          situation we "rebury" on site in a "sherd graveyard" (sic transit
          gloria mundi). I would gladly sell them (or in fact, even give them
          away) as souvenirs to tourists, to supporters, etc., which might
          provide us with another, even if limited, source of income for our
          scientific endeavors.

          Clearly though, in light of the current legal status, I do not do
          this ...

          On the other hand, if someone is interested in funding the
          excavations without having to give out sherds - I'd be happy to
          accept funds in other ways :-)

          Aren Maeir
          gath.wordpress.com
        • Clark Whelton
          ... Joe Zias My house is built on land that was settled by Dutch colonists in the 17th century CE. For years my wife has been telling me that in the spring
          Message 4 of 7 , Dec 2, 2007
            >>>>>> Collecting sherds or what is also known as 'sherding' has been
            >>>>>> illegal ever since I can remember as surface surveys are an important
            >>>>>> part of the profession. In fact, some scholars believe that areas
            >>>>>> should be rechecked every 25 yrs of so as new material resurfaces
            >>>>>> from time to time....
            Joe Zias


            My house is built on land that was settled by Dutch colonists in the 17th
            century CE. For years my wife has been telling me that in the spring she
            finds shards of old potttery, fragments of glass, clay tobacco pipes, nails,
            oyster shells, buttons etc. that emerge from the earth during the winter
            months. This seemed unlikely to me, but for the last three autumns I have
            raked specific areas clean. In the spring, sure enough, shards and other
            old objects can be found on the surface. How and why this happens I have no
            idea. Perhaps it's the frost. But I would suggest checking the surface of
            archaeologically important areas more frequently than every 25 years.


            Clark Whelton
            New York
          • arenmaeir
            Clearly, one must revisit sites every few years if you want to start understanding it. Experienced archaeological surveyers know that to get a good sherding
            Message 5 of 7 , Dec 2, 2007
              Clearly, one must revisit sites every few years if you want to start
              understanding it. Experienced archaeological surveyers know that to get
              a good "sherding representation" you have to return to a site several
              times during the period of a regional survey. At different times of the
              year (so as to get site exposure with different types of vegetation
              coverage, etc.) and over a period of more than a year, so as to benefit
              from various geomorphological changes. Surveys based on a one time
              visit to sites in a given region, although without a doubt revealing
              important evidence, represent only a small portion of the information
              that is available on surface. In fact, very often, surveys with the
              best information are those conducted over extended periods (in some
              cases, decades), usualy by a local afficianados, in which sites are re-
              visited time and again and one gets a truly in-depth knowledge of a
              region, even if extensive excavations are not conducted.

              Aren
            • Eliot Braun
              Sherding or any removal of antiquities from sites should never be done by anyone unless she or he is licensed to do so and unless there is an archaeological
              Message 6 of 7 , Dec 3, 2007
                "Sherding" or any removal of antiquities from sites should never be done by anyone unless she or he is licensed to do so and unless there is an archaeological report published on it. Each successive removal removes something of the archaeological profile of the site and, ipso facto, diminishes it. Casual collectors should be discouraged. I would recommend, for those who still would like the thrill of discovery and the excitement of finding ancient artifacts on visits to sites to try using a a digital camera, especially with macro capabilities and take photos of objects picked up and placed back where they were found as soon as they are examined. The array of surface material is just as important as its presence on a site (see: Robert McCormick Adams' Land Behind Baghdad and the Uruk Countryside).

                My other suggestion is that, should some very special object be found and the finder is capable of overcoming the lust of collecting, that its place be noted. Then it should be turned over to whatever legal authority is in charge of the site and responsible for curating its antiquities.



                Eliot Braun, Ph D, masquerading as Dr Pangloss
                Ha-oren 12, Har Adar 90836, Israel
                Tel. 972-2-5345687 / 972-2-5704189
                Cell: 972-50-223 1096
                ----- Original Message -----
                From: arenmaeir
                To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
                Sent: Monday, December 03, 2007 8:49 AM
                Subject: [ANE-2] Re: repeat visit to sites


                Clearly, one must revisit sites every few years if you want to start
                understanding it. Experienced archaeological surveyers know that to get
                a good "sherding representation" you have to return to a site several
                times during the period of a regional survey. At different times of the
                year (so as to get site exposure with different types of vegetation
                coverage, etc.) and over a period of more than a year, so as to benefit
                from various geomorphological changes. Surveys based on a one time
                visit to sites in a given region, although without a doubt revealing
                important evidence, represent only a small portion of the information
                that is available on surface. In fact, very often, surveys with the
                best information are those conducted over extended periods (in some
                cases, decades), usualy by a local afficianados, in which sites are re-
                visited time and again and one gets a truly in-depth knowledge of a
                region, even if extensive excavations are not conducted.

                Aren






                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • cejo@uchicago.edu
                ... Which reminds me to remind you all of: Robert McCormick Adams: Land Behind Baghdad http://www.etana.org/abzu/coretext.pl?RC=20303 Robert McCormick Adams:
                Message 7 of 7 , Dec 3, 2007
                  > ...The array of surface material is just as
                  > important as its presence on a site (see: Robert McCormick Adams' Land Behind Baghdad and
                  > the Uruk Countryside).

                  Which reminds me to remind you all of:

                  Robert McCormick Adams: Land Behind Baghdad
                  http://www.etana.org/abzu/coretext.pl?RC=20303

                  Robert McCormick Adams: The Uruk Countryside
                  http://www.etana.org/abzu/coretext.pl?RC=20309

                  Robert McCormick Adams: Heartland of cities
                  http://www.etana.org/abzu/coretext.pl?RC=20243

                  -Chuck Jones-
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