Findings from the Second Temple period, which were discovered in archaeological excavations near the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, may disappear, this is because the Archeology Committee of the Civil Administration, the equivalent body to the Antiquities Authority in Judea and Samaria, is currently planning to cover them up due to a legal requirement. which will enable the preservation of antiquities.
At the beginning of the year, after many years of delays, the works to make the Cave of the Patriarchs accessible.
The central part of the accessibility was an elevator that would allow people with disabilities to go to the upper floor, but next to it they also started to make the stairs that lead to the plaza of the complex accessible.
Archaeological excavations, illustration,
During the works, archaeological findings were discovered, initially from relatively late periods, such as the Ottoman period, but as the excavation progressed, more and more earlier findings were discovered.
In the excavation, which is led by Haim Shkolnik, an archaeologist of the Judea District in the Archeology Committee with many volunteers, among other things, a stone that was hewn for the ancient building and thrown aside for some reason, foundations of a building from the Second Temple period, a public building from the Mishna and Talmud period, a Crusader fortification that built the building, were discovered, among other things. and more.
Despite the exciting discoveries, and the fact that this is a site that adds a lot to Jewish and non-Jewish history in the region, the Civil Administration intends in the near future to cover the entire excavation area with earth and build the access path over it, as originally planned.
The main reason for this is that the permission to expropriate the area was for the benefit of accessibility, and not for an archaeological dig, and any attempt to change the layout could lead to years of petitions to the High Court. The settlers of Hebron went to war against the intention to cover up the findings.
Jewish and non-Jewish history in danger: an illustration,
Dr. Noam Arnon, the spokesman for the Jewish settlement in Hebron, recently appealed to the Minister of Culture and Sports Hili Trooper with a request to try to act on the matter.
"There is no disputing the need for accessibility, but covering the excavation area is not necessary and it constitutes unnecessary damage to scientific, cultural, archaeological and touristic values," he wrote to him.
Arnon explained in a conversation with "Israel Hayom" that there is a possibility of drawing up an alternative plan to make the complex accessible without damaging the important findings.
"There is no doubt that the cover-up of the excavations will be publicized and interpreted throughout the world as a deliberate damage to the layers and findings from the Muslim period and the disappearance of parts of the country's history and material culture. Beyond that, a more serious reaction is also possible, of damage to Jewish sites in the territory of the Palestinian Authority.
"This is a colossal mistake. We have an alternative plan for accessibility, a short and cheap route that solves the problem. If the KMT Archeology says they have a legal problem - let them solve it.
We don't need to cover everything and damage our history," Arnon added.
The Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, photo: Sharia Diamant
The Civil Administration responded: "As part of the construction of the access road in the project to access the Cave of the Patriarchs, and the rescue excavations carried out by the KMT Archeology Unit in the Civil Administration, archaeological finds were uncovered - including coins, fragments of pottery and remains of buildings.
The professionals in the unit carried out conservation work on the findings, along with monitoring, recording and preserving knowledge.
"Upon completion of the rescue excavations, and in accordance with the decisions of the professionals in the field, the archaeological findings that were uncovered will be covered and preserved in a way that preserves their integrity and survival, so that the ability and possibility in the future to develop the site and open it up to the general public will be preserved. The Civil Administration considers it very important to preserve archaeological findings and important religious and historical sites, and This works and promotes the very important project to make the Cave of the Patriarchs accessible to the disabled and the general public."
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