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August 15, 1986 - Image 26

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-08-15

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Nine thousand-year-old limestone mask from near Hebron

" Photos courtesy of the Israel Museum.

Was Moshe Dayan An
Archeologist Or A Thief?

As Jerusalem's Israel Museum exhibits Dayan's
archeological collection, the debate swirls again:
Did the Israeli general acquire priceless artifacts


Special to The Jewish News

bu-t that he did not act, in
nce again, Israel is re-
considering the repu-
"Dayan's friends in the par-
tation of Moshe Dayan
ty said, let him play," said
— soldier, statesman, military
Meshorer. "They thought,
hero and amateur
`We need him for more impor-
tant things.' He was consid-
The debate has been spurred
ered a naughty boy who was
by the recent acquisition by
allowed to do things that
Jerusalem's Israel Museum of
other people weren't."
more than 600 archeological
Despite these criticisms,
artifacts that were in Dayan's
Dayan did make some note-
personal collection. The anti-
quities span the 7,000 years . worthy finds. In the Gaza
Strip, for example, the driver
of the Chalcolithic, Bronze,
of an Arab earth-mover who
and Iron ages.
Amos Kloner, the Israeli
Department of Antiquities'
District Archeologist of the
Judean Hills, charged that
Dayan was a "robber," a
government leader who set a
bad example for the nation.
Kloner. said that the late
Israeli Defense Minister was
highly unprofessional. Dayan
was a collector who did not
document his sites, not an
archeologist, said Kloner. He
even used the Israeli Army to
help him collect his loot.
Dayan was well known
throughout Israel. He often
contacted Arabs who were
fascinated with the possibil-
ity of selling him their finds.
They hoped to benefit by
Clay coffins from Gaza Strip in
good relations with him.
Dayan exhibit.
It is this professional perk
that brought down a storm of
had accidentally plowed up a
protest when the Israel Mu-
Caanite cemetery telephoned
seum bought the Dayan col-
Dayan about the discovery.
lection. Several years after his
From the sand dunes of Deir-
death, Dayan was accused of
al-Balah, Dayan acquired 24
abusing his public office as
clay coffins that were more
well as digging illegally.
than 3,000 years old.
Standing like soldiers near
Ya'acov Meshorer, curator
a pool of sand, these coffins
of the Israel Museum, said
are now the hit of the show in
that 15 percent of Dayan's
the Israel Museum. The earth
finds were acquired at private
brown sarcophagi are more
digs — without a license —

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