Morag Kersal Sounds the Warning: Buying Artifacts in Israel is Hazardous

On the ASOR blog Morag writes

Unsuspecting tourists, collectors, dealers, museums, and educational institutions all take a chance when purchasing artifacts on the Israeli market with no accompanying background information. Buyers should beware.

The Israel Antiquities Law 5738-1978 establishes that, among other things, ownership of cultural heritage found after the benchmark date of 1978 is vested in the State of Israel. The law also enshrines the legal trade in antiquities: it is legal to buy and sell artifacts from collections (private, museums and existing shop inventories) acquired before the Antiquities Law of 1978. After that date, all newly discovered antiquities are the property of the state. The origins of this legal market can be traced back to the Ottoman occupation of the region, which encouraged the movement of artifacts from the hinterlands to the capital (Constantinople). Through the years and through various governments the trade has continued to thrive, with the support of avid collectors like former Jerusalem mayor Teddy Kollek and Knesset member Moshe Dayan.

Dayan was a looter- it’s just that simple.  He ravaged the land and stole more antiquities than anyone can imagine.  Little wonder he thought the ‘antiquities trade’ was a good idea!

Buying antiquities fuels theft and fraud.  Where there’s a Shekel to be made, a scoundrel will be nearby to make it.

Read Morag’s fine piece and when you’re in Israel, pass the shops.  You’re probably going to be ripped off.