A Statement By the Faculty of Tel Aviv University Concerning an Advert in Biblical Archaeology Review

Oded Lipschits has sent along this public statement:

Statement by faculty members of the Marco and Sonia Nadler Institute of Archaeology, Tel Aviv University, regarding the alleged use of mechanical excavator at Tel Socoh

A defamatory, anonymous paid advertisement, alleging that Prof. Yuval Goren of the Institute of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University has used a mechanical excavator to “pillage stratigraphy” in the excavation of Tel Socoh in the Shephelah, has again been published in the Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR). Those who read BAR should note that:

1. There was no use of a mechanical excavator on Tel Socoh.

2. The slide shown in the ad illustrates work carried out in a wadi near the mound, as a sequel to a systematic manual excavation from surface to natural soil nearby. The sounding was aimed at detecting pottery and slag in the vicinity of the site. This method is authorized (and endorsed) by the Israel Antiquities Authority.

3. This is a common method in archaeology. Most seasoned archaeologists – regardless of period of research, location on the globe, and institutional affiliation – use mechanical excavators in certain, closely controlled circumstances.

Signed: Oded Lipschits, Erez Ben Yosef, Shlomo Bunimovitz, Yoram Cohen, Alexander Fantalkin, Israel Finkelstein, Moshe Fischer, Yuval Gadot, Amir Gilan, Raphael Greenberg, Zeev Herzog, Dafna Langgut, Nadav Na’aman, Benjamin Sass, Deborah Sweeney, Oren Tal

Frankly, and personally, I think BAR has crossed the line with this egregious and defamatory advert.  They may not be responsible for its content, but they stand morally indicted for publishing it.

For the backstory of this public statement- see here.

5 thoughts on “A Statement By the Faculty of Tel Aviv University Concerning an Advert in Biblical Archaeology Review

  1. I think that Goren has to be supported here. This is a very serious accusation
    levelled against him, but it is a normal archaeological procedure.

    Thomas L. Thompson
    Professor emeritus, University of Copenhagen


  2. This is in a way the norm for much of the BAR Crowd over the years. A few years back BAR published an article Lying Scholars ? in which the editor accused myself and two others of lying over the James ossuary and its provenance. I and a well known scholar had seen the ossuary at the dealers shop here in Jerusalem and reported such to the authorities. The editor of BAR then called the dealer who had left the country, never to return and asked if Zias had indeed seen the ossuary. The dealer replied ‘Zias who ? never heard of Joe Zias nor the other scholar. On the last page of the 7 page article, the editor then published a photo of the dealer and I standing together in front of his shop where I had seen the ossuary.

    As I have been saying for years, we ourselves are to blame for not being vigilant when it comes to boycotting those in the media out for fame and fortune, and it goes on.


    • It must go further than writing for BAR, when one looks at the Celebrity Cruises and those meetings that they run alongside the SBL, one sees how those agreeing to participate and the list is growing then it should be clear that the profession itself and those who think more about their own personal place in the academic food chain’ than the profession itself, are to blame.

      Had scholars said long ago, either ‘clean up your act or we boycott you entirely, things would have changed or BAR would have disappeared, unfort. the word to the wise was not well taken.


  3. Currently there are two scholars writing books about the ‘BAR Crowd’ and their methods including using the deceased to be ‘vindicated’ as they did in 2008, the Holocaust , their latest ‘bulldozer’ allegations, threatening scholars, college Deans, including NPR and others who dare criticize. https://soundcloud.com/theworld/071920138-1
    One of the authors used the word ‘sycophant’ to describe several of those involved, which is a word I’m unfamiliar with, so I asked the author to clarify its usage and the writer responded with the following which I feel adequately describes several personalities in the BAR Crowd.

    “This man, who has crawled and crept through life, wounding the hands he licked, biting those he fawned upon: this sycophant, who never knew what honor, truth or courage meant.”

    Charles Dickens 1841 (Barnabas Rudge)


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