Review: Why Objects from the Antiquities Market Matter
We don’t know where many of the objects in this book were found, but they have much to teach us.
By Hershel Shanks
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Biblical Period Hebrew Bullae: The Josef Chaim Kaufman Collection
Robert Deutsch
(Tel Aviv: Archaeological Center Publication, 2003) 452 pp., 421 figures, $150 (plus $18 shipping; order via e-mail: mail@archaeological-center.com)
When I was a practicing lawyer, I was always eager to know the best argument the other side could make. In order to test my own position, I had to know what the opposition could muster. With that in mind, I would like to hear from anyone who thinks that Robert Deutsch should be condemned for publishing a series of books—some by himself,1 some with other scholars2—of Biblical-period inscriptions from private antiquities collections. That is, the inscriptions—seals, bullae, plaques, ostraca, vessels, etc.—are unprovenanced. We don’t know where they were found. Many of them were probably looted. Yet they have much to teach us.

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