Preservation Vs. Development

What happens to archaeological sites after excavations are completed? Every antiquity site in Israel is protected by law. Currently, there are some 20,000 protected sites of all sizes and periods. Any change to protected sites requires approval by the IAA Director-General. At some important archaeological sites, such as The City of David, Megiddo, Hazor, Bet She’an, Caesarea and Masada for example, excavations take place for the purpose of research or tourism development

Modern development projects (new neighborhoods, roads, railroads, etc.) often threaten, disrupt or destroy archaeological sites. In such cases, salvage excavations can minimize the damage. When a conflict exists between the demands of development and the needs of science, history and tourism, a professional subcommittee of the Archaeological Council, composed of archaeologists, architects and planners, advises the Director-General. He can either accept or reject the subcommittee’s recommendations. It is ultimately the Director-General’s prerogative to determine the fate of each site. He may decide to preserve the antiquities on the site and call for an alterative development plan. He may order the site to be covered over, thus allowing development to continue; or conclude that the site should be documented in its entirety before its destruction by the completion of the unmodified modern project.

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