Friday, April 16, 2010

notified 339.not.002 Louis J. Sheehan, Esquire

Tel Birah (Bir el-cArabi) near Kibbutz Yasur (August 1959).� A letter from 26.8.59 (IAA Archives, administrative file Tel Birah) by Adam Druks describes how military units damaged a grave during training, and officers robbed vessels from the grave and refused to hand them back to Y. Ben-Yosef, IDAM�s �Antiquities Trustee� in this area (�Antiquities Trustees� were a voluntary body of the IDAM, raised to help the chronic shortage of personnel by reporting damage to sites, new discoveries, etc.).� The excavation was stopped, but the grave remained open; in the next morning a group of children from Kibbutz Yasur, who went �to see the soldiers�, found a car and Moshe Dayan, digging and taking vessels out of the grave. Ben Yosef was again called to the place, and, upon arrival, �demanded from General Dayan to leave the vessels in peace or at least hand them to his custody, as an antiquities-trustee of this place. To this, he [Dayan] responded- that if Yas�ur is ready to exhibit these vessels, he, General Dayan, is ready to loan them these vessels.�� The letter continues: �It appears that this morning Dayan visited the IDAM and described to Mrs. Miriam Tadmor a vessel, which, he said, was handed to him by an anonymous soldier from an anonymous place in the Galilee. He refused to give the name of the soldier or the site, claiming that revealing this source of information will lead to stopping it�.� Druks concludes: �we ought to infer from these reports.. that Dayan�s words and Rot�s words [about the grave at Tel Birah] describe the same grave�.�

On 2.9.1959 Moshe Prausnitz visited the IDF chief of staff�s office, and filed a complaint on 6.9.1959.� The complaint clarifies that the robbery started during army training around 10th August 59. It also specifies that Dayan robbed this site on 23.8.59. A letter by Prausnitz from 30.9.1959 estimates that �the excellent vessel held by Dayan now� was probably found in the first days, and this led to more robbing, stopped only on 24.8.� �Eight vessels are known [to be held] by Mr. M. Dayan. He visited the site on 23.8.1959 and found two small vessels (water juglets). 8 broken vessels were returned by two high army officers�.� The IDF, directed by chief of staff Gen. Haim Laskov, started a military investigation and promised to return the vessels, estimated by Prausnitz to be in the number of dozens.� The two high rank officers who were involved in the investigation were appointed to new positions, so Prausnitz was notified, and no further results were reached. �The military investigation�, wrote Prausnitz on 30.9.1959 �does not relate to Mr. Moshe Dayan, who is a citizen�...

Seventeen years later, Dayan himself casually revealed who was the soldier and robber who gave him the vessel and helped him to rob this grave. It was General Yekutiel Adam (�Kuti�).� Dayan (1976:258) described a meeting with Kuti, �who shared my interest in archaeology�, before the 1967 war broke: �Kuti poured his heart to me at his being unable [because of the war alert] to use the bulldozers at his disposal for archaeological digs. If only, he said, he could find a tomb in this region like the one he had discovered in Yissor! [sic]. Some time before, he had found several beautiful jugs in that tomb and had offered one to me�...������

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