Effects of Contested Management of Archaeological sites in the Hebron district
Palestinian cultural heritage has been managed and operated by several administrations since more than a century ago. Each administration has had its own way of management, protection, methods of research, excavations and political purposes, making Palestinian cultural heritage one of the most intensively excavated and subsequently disturbed? worldwide. According to the Palestinian- Israeli transition accords (1993, and 1994-5) the Palestinian Authority took over the responsibility for archaeology in Area “A” and “B” which represent circa 40% of the occupied Palestinian land. In spite of this hindrance, it was the first time that the Palestinian people were given the opportunity to manage their own heritage.
This paper will attempt to illustrate and discuss the conditions of archaeological sites in the Hebron district in the period between 1993 (after the Oslo agreement) and the al-Aqsa Intifada in 2000, under two contested administrations: the Palestinian Department of Antiquities on the one hand, and the Israeli antiquities staff officer on the other, who is still responsible for managing and protecting the archaeological sites in Area “C”.
Clandestine excavations, illicit trafficking and the state of conservation of Palestinian Cultural Heritage will be explored to demonstrate the protection, conservation and development dynamics of archaeological sites in this area and how contested management and protection by the two administrations affect the safeguarding of the Palestinian cultural heritage.
In light of these factors, this paper also will briefly trace the illegal Israeli excavations, so called “salvage excavations” and the devastating impact of the separation wall on the archaeological sites and cultural landscape of the Hebron area.
PhD candidate Student
University of Ferrara