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20 January 2004
A new home for Israel's Antiquities Collections

The Beit Shemesh warehouse near Jerusalem is the new home of Israel's National Antiquities Collections, housing close to 1 million artifacts unearthed in excavations in Israel since its founding in 1948.
     The crates and boxes lining the aisles hold archaeological treasures such as ancient stone tools, Bronze Age bowls and Roman jewellery. Previously, excavated items were stored in a cramped old building in Jerusalem, said a curator, Galit Litani. Among the artifacts are the oldest discovered outside Africa - skillfully worked prehistoric basalt hand-axes and flint knives found in the upper Galilee region, dating back 1.5 million years.
     Items dug up under pre-state British or Ottoman rule or in the West Bank or Gaza Strip before Israel captured those territories from Jordan and Egypt in the 1967 Mideast War are kept in various museums and international archaeological institutes in Jerusalem and abroad.
     The building is an archive, not a museum, and the boxes of history lining the aisles will not be on view to the general public, Litani said, but scholars and museum staff will be able to borrow items for research or display.

Source: The Guardian (19 January 2004)

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