By June 4, 2008 Read More →

BARlines: Dayan Collection Opens Amidst Controversy, Biblical Archaeology Review (12:04), Jul/Aug 1986.

Moshe Dayan

Moshe Dayan. By IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The Dayan Collection, which was previewed in the September/October 1982 BAR, opened at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem on April 15, 1986, to rave reviews and a chorus of controversy.

Collected by the late Israeli general and amateur archaeologist Moshe Dayan, who died in 1981, the more than 1,000 pieces comprise a stunning and important assemblage, all agree. It is generally acknowledged, however, that many of the pieces purchased by Dayan had come from illegal excavations; others were actually illegally excavated by the dashing, sometimes above-the-law general and political leader himself.

Outside the museum on opening night, leaders of the newly formed Association of Archaeologists in Israel picketed. The nearly 50 pickets included archaeologists and scholars from Hebrew University, Tel Aviv University, the University of Haifa and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. A contingent of students from Tel Aviv University swelled the ranks of the protesters.

A statement issued by the AAI charged that the Dayan collection was “partly illegally collected.” The statement continued- “We are obliged publicly and professionally to protest against antiquity robbing and theft. This clandestine activity is still practiced by collectors, public figures and leaders like the late Moshe Dayan. The exhibition of the collection in a special exhibit could be understood as a legitimization of their activities.”


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