Courtesy Avner Raban

Sell ‘em! That’s what archaeologist Avner Raban advises for the myriad mundane objects recovered in excavations but languishing in storerooms. The reconstructed objects shown here are in much better condition than most excavated objects, but currently every item from a dig is saved no matter how devoid of interest. Raban’s dig at Caesarea Maritima, for example, has already catalogued a million items. Under the current system, they will be relegated to a storeroom and probably not seen again for decades.

Raban has a two-pronged solution for this sorry state of affairs: Sell those artifacts that are not unique, in good condition or useful for teaching. The funds raised from such sales should in turn be used to underwrite dig publications, which typically are published many years after an excavation (if at all) because money is rarely allocated for that purpose.