Press Release: Request to Antiquities Authority and the Archaeology Council to prevent construction of Kedem Compound

16 November 2015

The media recently reported the discovery of a Hellenistic fort identified as the historical “Acra” in the Givati parking lot excavations, opposite the Old City walls. This discovery attests to the richness discovered at the archaeological site – impressive remains from the Roman, Byzantine and Muslim periods. The Givati parking lot, at the entrance to Silwan village, turns out to be one of the most important and richest sites in Jerusalem. Emek Shaveh organization contacted the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Archaeological Council demanding to reconsider the approval of the building on the ancient site. Protecting the antiquities requires minimal harm–in this case preventing construction of the Kedem Center, which is expected to include 15,000 sqm and 7 floors.

The ‘Kedem Center’ planned by the Nature and Parks Authority and the Elad organization will unalterably harm the site of the archaeological excavations currently known as ‘the Givati parking lot.’ The tourist center, planned for an area of 15,000 square meters, is unusual in any ancient site, and certainly in the landscape of Jerusalem’s Old City. Recent findings discovered in the Givati Parking Lot — a Hellenistic fort identified by researchers as the “Acra”– join the wealth of archaeological remains discovered here, making it the most important archaeological site in Jerusalem. In view of this, it is important that the entirety of remains is not harmed by construction, and that they be publicly displayed in an optimal manner, in accordance with the accepted world standards—in an outdoor, open-air archaeological archaeological park, without roofing. Emek Shaveh organization turned to the Antiquities Authority (IAA) and the Archaeological Council to reconsider their support for building the Kedem Center atop of the excavation area.

The Antiquities Law gives the IAA the authority to prevent construction that harms sites of extraordinary importance. Moreover, when the Givati Parking Lot excavations began, then IAA director Mr. Shuka Dorfman stated that if unique antiquities were found, there would be no construction at all. The Israel Antiquities Authority should use its legal authority to prevent damaging the important antiquities discovered and their presentation to the public. While the Archaeological Council is only an advisory body only, by virtue of its position it is important that the Council express a clear stance against the construction and protect the ancient site from interests unrelated to archeology.

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