One of the world's most important historic sites ruined by bulldozers
Wednesday 29 December 1999
Excavations on the upperJordan river have been under way since 1935, but have stopped since water officials sent in bulldozers - in a secret night-time operation - to dig out the area to prevent flooding.
The scientific community is furious. They say the site, which is on a major prehistoric migratory route, contains fossil bones of elephants, rhinos, hippos, birds and reptiles dating back 750,000 years, plus plants and seeds, tree remains and primitive tools used byHomo erectus, the predecessor of Homo sapiens.
"This is one of only a few sites in the world that provides information about the colonisation of the planet by early man coming from Africa," said Prof Na'ama Goren-Inbar of the Hebrew University's Department of Prehistoric Archaeology, who has written letters of protest to the Israeli government. Twenty-four researchprojects were underway at the site, including studies of flora and fauna, the landscape and climate and the habits of prehistoric man.
The culprit, the Kinneret Drainage Authority, insisted it had to send in the bulldozers as it was vital to dig out the area to prevent flooding of a nearby farming valley, which has flooded in the past, putting lives at risk. It held off for months because of objections by Israel's Antiquities Authority. But finally the drainage authority - exercising what it claims is its legal right - moved in at night without warning.
An official told the Jerusalem Post that all the diggings had been left nearby "so that archaeologists can examine them thoroughly". But the scientists are not reassured. They say that once roughly removed from the soil, prehistoric remains have little value as they have no "context".
The Antiquities Authority condemned the "act of vandalism", lodged a complaint with the police and secured a temporary court order to stop the digging. It says the site is one of the rarest outside Africa, and thus in the world.
"We want these people to be punished because this was a criminal action," said a spokeswoman. "They knew they did not have any permission to do any work there and did it at night, like thieves."
- 1 The black and blue dress: Makers considering a white and gold version
- 2 Man to be beheaded in Saudi Arabia after ripping up a Koran and hitting it with his shoe
- 3 Husband and wife die holding hands within hours of each other after 67 years of marriage
- 4 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 5 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
Stephen Hawking's wife Jane Wilde on their marriage breakdown: 'The family were left behind'
PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
Boko Haram: Thousands march in Cameroon to protest against the Islamist terror movement
White and gold or blue and black – what colour is the dress? An eyewitness gives a definitive answer
Kelly Osbourne leaves Fashion Police after Zendaya dreadlocks racism row
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Russia's roadmap for annexing eastern Ukraine 'leaked from Vladimir Putin's office'
£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...
£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...
£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...
£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...