BAR 39:05, Sep/Oct 2013
First Person: Smile! You’re on Camera
If you steal a tube of toothpaste at the local drugstore, you are likely to end up at the police station. If you dig up a rare vessel from Biblical times at an archaeological site in the Near East, you are likely to get away with it.
Why the difference? The answer is simple. A security camera in the drugstore will catch you in the act.
Much of the archaeological establishment will tell you not to buy the looted vessel, as if that would discourage thieves from plundering archaeological treasures. Worse still, leading archaeological institutions won’t allow the plundered vessel to be published in their professional journals. The reasoning goes something like this: Publication increases the vessel’s value; if it’s worth less, collectors are less likely to buy it; if it’s worth less, thieves are less likely to steal it. If you don’t follow this, neither do I.