Bone Considerations: Archaeology, Heritage, and Ethics at Mamilla, Jerusalem

Raz Kletter, Gideon Sulimani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Mamilla cemetery was one of the largest and most important Muslim
cemeteries in Jerusalem. The plans to build a “Museum of Tolerance” in it led
to heated protests and a prolonged legal procedure in Israel’s Supreme Court
of Justice. In 2008, the court approved the plans and many hundreds of graves
were exhumed. Through the available sources, including the court’s archival files, we discuss political, legal, and archaeological aspects of this case, focusing on ethics about cemeteries and descendant communities. The discussion shows
that the Israel Antiquities Authority breached the court orders and that the
treatment of the archaeological remains was biased. “Their” graves were destroyed, and the bones reburied in secret, while “our” remains in the same areas were carefully excavated and preserved. Tolerance to “our” heritage at the expense of “theirs” is intolerance.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Cultural Property
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)321-350
Number of pages30
Publication statusPublished - 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 615 History and Archaeology
  • Archaeology
  • Palestine
  • Jerusalem
  • cemeteries
  • Tomb
  • Heritage
  • History of Arcaheology
  • Biblical Archaeology
  • Community
  • Ottoman
  • Mamluk
  • Crusader

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