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Open letter to science editors

 

KRONOS Vol. I, Issue 2

What Kind of Dig is this?

To the Editor:

The following is a rather interesting excerpt from James A. Michener's novel The Source (Fawcett Crest Books, 1967, pp. 30-32).

"Yes," the kibbutznik said, "I think I've found something," and he handed Tabari a coin, which later occasioned much debate at the mess. It had obviously been issued by some Arabic-speaking nation, but what it was doing on Makor was not so easy to determine. Cullinane argued, "It was found within a few inches of the top. It can't signify the presence of an Arab town nobody ever heard of. Yet it looks quite old. Can you decipher it, Jemail?"

Tabari had read some of the Arabic script and was trying to untangle the rest when the photographer appeared with two books from the library showing the coins of Palestine, and after much checking back and forth proved that the coin had been issued some time around the year 1000 C.E. [A.D.]

"That's hard to accept," Cullinane protested, "That's a hundred years before the Crusaders, and if what you say is right . . ." He hesitated, then used the classic complaint of the archaeologist: "That coin has no right to be there!" Later he told Tabari, "Everything would have been a lot simpler if you'd let that kibbutznik keep his damned coin and maybe sell it to some tourist in Akko. Warn your men not to dig up any facts that confuse the issue."

But four days later the men at Trench B found something that was indeed bizarre, and when Cullinane finished his card he joked, "Tabari, somebody's salting our dig." . . . but cursory inspection of the new find [a Menorah] satisfied even Cullinane that no workman could have procured this particular item for salting: it was made of gold . . .

"It's a work of art," Cullinane admitted grudgingly, "but of no archaeological value." He pushed it away, unaware that it was to become the most notorious single object that would be found at the dig. "Damn," he growled. "A bullet, a gold coin nearly a thousand years too old and a menorah. All in the wrong levels at the wrong times. What kind of dig is this?"

I cannot help but wonder how often that question has been asked?!

DEL MILNE
Clementon, N. J.
Alumnus Moore College of
Art, Phila., Pa.

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