Haaretz recently reported:
One of the country’s leading archaeologists has publicly condemned the Israel Antiquities Authority’s failure to object to a plan to construct a building over a site in the Western Wall plaza where a well-preserved ancient Roman road was recently excavated.
Tsafrir argued that the construction is being approved because the findings are not from a period of Jewish rule over Jerusalem.
“One day, we can hope, the entire length of the road might be revealed,” he said. “That will be able to happen when more enlightened groups run the city and the country and the cultural treasures that are in it – those that understand that even monuments that aren’t Jewish have significance.”
I observed a related problem when visiting Italy earlier this year. The ancient city Herculaneum, well preserved by mud flows from the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD, lies only partially excavated because the modern city sits on top of a portion of the older ruins. I wondered what we might be missing. Have we enough antiquities? To what extent should we go to excavate and/or preserve?