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Plan brokered by UCLA, USC archaeologists would remove roadblock to Mideast peace

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Published Apr 8, 2008 12:03 PM


BY MEG SULLIVAN AND EDWARD NORTH-HAGER

Israelis and Palestinians may not be able to agree right now on their present or future, but, if a pair of Los Angeles archaeologists have their way, they soon will see eye to eye on their past.

Working tirelessly for the past five years, Ran Boytner, a University of California, Los Angeles archaeologist and Lynn Swartz Dodd, an archaeologist at the University of Southern California, have guided a team of prominent Israeli and Palestinian archaeologists to arrive at the first-ever agreement on the disposition of the region's archaeological treasures following the establishment of a future Palestinian state.

"Israelis and Palestinians never previously had sat down to achieve a structured, balanced agreement to govern the region's archaeological heritage," said Dodd, a lecturer in religion and curator of USC's Archaeological Research Collection. "Our group got together with the vision of a future when people wouldn't be at each other's throats and archaeology would need to be protected, irrespective of which side of the border it falls on."

With dozens of high-ranking Israeli, Palestinian, U.S. and international statesmen and Palestinian archaeologists already aware of the Israeli-Palestinian Archaeology Working Group Agreement, the 39-point document now faces its toughest audience: Israeli archaeologists whose country would cede control over tens of thousands of artifacts and hundreds of sites.

"We're talking about putting your precious archaeological heritage — things you believe your ancestors created — in the hands of what you now consider to be your enemy," Dodd said. "We're asking enemies to become partners."

Read the complete story in UCLA Today Online.

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