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June 13, 1986 - Image 109

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-06-13

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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Anthropologist Joe Zias examples of an ancient skull at the
Rockefeller Museum.

foundation stone was laid. In
1938, a planned inspection was
cancelled because a British ar-
chaeologist, James Leslie
Starkey, had been murdered.
Believing himself immune
from Arab attacks, he had
driven from his excavation site
in Lachish to attend the in-
spection and was ambushed
and shot. Nonetheless, the
museum opened to the public
two days later.
In April 1948, just before the
granting of Israeli state-
hood, the museum was en-
trusted to an international
board whose duty it was to en-
sure "that the Palestinian
Archaeology Museum and its
contents shall be controlled
and administered by archae-
ologists and persons of emi-
nence for and on behalf of
the people of Palestine as 'a
whole." This task was given to
respresentatives of countries
that had a traditional interest
in the area: Britain, the United
States, Sweden, France and
the "two members nominated
by mutual agreement between
the governments of Egypt,
Syria, the Lebanon and Iraq."
Almost 20 years later, in
1966, King Hussein national-
ized the museum, and the
board of trustees handed over
the museum and all its funds
to the government of Jordan.
The museum came into
Israeli hands on June 6, 1967
during the Six Day War. Un-
der fire, Israeli troops made
their way into the locked

building by shooting the
chains off the entrance door.
From the tower's observation
point, they opened fire to cover
the entry of other Israeli
soldiers into the compound
and give them time to reach
the side door. More men had
entered from the back, and, by
the end of the day, the museum
had become an Israeli com-
mand post. Shortly after, three
members of the Israel Depart-
ment of Antiquities rushed
over and happily found the
museum's contents barely
ruffled.
Because of Hussein's prior
nationalization of the museum,
the Israeli government was
able to take it over as govern-
ment property. The govern-
ment did not want to appear to
be violating international
agreements by tampering with
cultural possessions, so the
museum was not merged with
the two-year old Israel Mu-
seum in West Jerusalem. Only
its name was changed to re-
flect the generosity of its first
patron, Rockefeller.
Thus, there are two arch-
aeology museums in Jeru-
salem. Some of the periods
covered are the same in each,
but the Rockefeller has finds
from between the two world
wars, the Israel from sites
excavated after 1948. Al-
though there are 10 times as
many people visiting the Israel
Museum, more should seek out
the Rockefeller for its special
treats of archaeology, history
and architecture.

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For more information, call Jerri Litt, Sinai Lifeline Coordinator, at 493-5304.

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