Sunday, January 20, 2019

More on Beit Shemesh and Route 38

ROADWORKS VS. ARCHAEOLOGY: ANCIENT CITY AROUSES CONTROVERSY IN BEIT SHEMESH. Archeological dig exposes conflicting interests with no simple solution (Meir Ekstein, Jerusalem Post).
The present plans for the road would decimate the site forever – a third destruction (churban shlishi) of a 2,700-year-old site. How does one weigh the immediate economic needs and those of the present community against the preservation of Jewish/Israeli history for generations? There are alternatives that would save the site entirely, such as building a tunnel underneath the excavations, building a bridge over the excavations or rerouting the road near Moshav Yishi. Each of these solutions poses problems, is expensive and will significantly delay the completion of the road. But they are not insurmountable. In contrast, this site is a non-renewable resource. Once destroyed, it will be gone forever.
This article advocates a particular position about the road controversy. For an earlier article that presented a wider range of views, see here. I take no position on the matter myself.

I was about to post this when I saw that Joseph I. Lauer had a new e-mail on the topic. He notes this article and also another from Haaretz Hebrew here, Google English translation at: An achievement for archaeologists: Route 38, which is supposed to cross Tel Bet Shemesh, will be reduced (Nir Hasson).
Netivei Israel agreed to significantly reduce the width of Highway 38, which crosses Tel Bet Shemesh, after archaeologists have warned that it may bury rare and unusual findings from the First Temple period that were discovered there. The Antiquities Authority claims that according to a summary reached a week ago between the IAA CEO and Netivei Israel's CEO, the width of the road will be reduced from 80 meters to 20 meters only. Israel's roads said the road plans were being re-examined in light of the findings, but did not confirm that the road would be reduced to a quarter of its planned area. Even in its narrow form, the road is expected to cause great damage to the findings.

That seems to represent some progress.

UPDATE (21 January): The article is now published on the Haaretz (premium) English site: Victory for Archaeologists: Planned Road Expansion Cut in Bid to Save Ancient Treasures. Route 38 will cut through a major 7th century BCE site. Roads company: Plans are being ‘reexamined.’

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