Monday, April 07, 2008

That Every Mouth May Be Stopped (p. 3 of 2)

3 of 2? Well, I intended there to be 2, with comments added by readers, but today I received the following message from Joe Zias, & felt it merited its own blog entry:

Sent: Monday, April 07, 2008 9:06 AM

If you are willing to put on your blog the following admission of error, unedited and complete, then you have my permission to run it. If you choose to run it under those conditions, I hope it satisfies your wishes and that this is the end of our communications. My statement is as follows:

"Seems that I was mis-informed by colleagues in the IAA and that my earlier statement , that stamped jar handles are not exportable, was in error. It would appear that when I spoke to someone in the IAA, they were expressing what they were fighting for at that time, which for certain legal reasons was not achieved. Therefore, these jar handles are not in the category of inscriptions which are unique but are stamped similar to coinage and to a certain degree rather plentiful., even though they are like the estimated 95% of the objects on the market today, coming from looted sites, Much to our dismay, they are exportable for the time being. Remember, we in the arch. community, unlike dealers and collectors, are looking out for the interests of all of humankind, trying to protect the past so as to educate those in the future. Archaeological sites, including stamped jar handles are not 'born again" For every looted site, for every 'lmlk' jar handle which was robbed out by looters and purchased by collectors and dealers, that's one more part of our and your history, that has disappeared. from the face of the earth"

Joe Zias

In conclusion, I would add that just as his original information was not scientifically obtained, & now we have an admission that it was based on what certain still-unnamed individuals at the IAA "were fighting for", which I'm guessing is not part of their official job description, but merely personal biases; so too his estimate that 95% of antiquities come from looted sites is also based on personal biases rather than a scientific study. If I'm wrong, I hope someone will publish actual data.

In any event, I stand by my suggestions in Part 1 that the best thing to do is rid The Land of real troublemakers, & provide legitimate jobs for those interested in participating in Israel's economy & retrieving History.

Furthermore, to discourage looting, the IAA should encourage chance finders of antiquities to report them to the IAA, & after properly documenting them, sell them wholesale to licensed dealers for resale, or auction them online, & in either case, keep 50% of the proceeds, & reimburse the finder with the other 50%. Thereafter, anyone caught selling undocumented antiquities should be fined at double the actual value of the antiquities they're caught with. In lieu of a fine in case they cannot afford it, they should be forced to perform hard manual labor at excavation sites for a period equating to the fine according to whatever the minimum wage is.

This is just my starting-point suggestion, but there shouldn't be any prisons. Kill the real troublemakers, & fine the thieves. Jails should only be used to temporarily detain suspects until they've had their "day in court".

G.M. Grena

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

That Every Mouth May Be Stopped (p. 2 of 2)

Returning to ANE-2, in the whole series of messages exchanged on this matter, the most absurd comment was this one (#6639) by Joe Zias:

"I will double check tomorrow if the IAA has ever allowed the exportation of stamped jar handles ... I just checked with the authorities and the collection which you own was not exported legally as ALL inscribed material has been forbidden to export since 1978. Please contact me on this matter off- line, for the sake of the profession as well as science."

  1. How credible could the authorities (plural) he checked with be if they were unwilling to give him permission to cite their names & job titles?

  2. How could he possibly know whether my collection was exported illegally? (When was I ever tried & convicted of this in any court, American or Israeli?)

  3. Even if my collection were illegally exported, how is it possible that Joe Zias--a credible anthropologist & avid bicyclist--was able to determine this in a single day, & yet I've been acquiring & publishing these handles for over 6 years without receiving a single complaint or inquiry from the IAA or any branch of Israel's law enforcement?

  4. Why would he want me to contact him offline about this matter--wouldn't it make more sense to report me to a law enforcement agency directly, & let them handle the matter?

  5. For the sake of what profession? I collect these artifacts & study them as a hobby!

  6. For the sake of what science? Earlier in the message, he stated that my handles had "little if any sci. value", & that I may have been duped into buying fakes! But again, in any event, what would contacting him offline accomplish?

It sounds to me like Joe Zias was seeking some payola (a.k.a. a black-mail payment). Yikes! Is that a crime in Israel? It's a good thing he didn't explicitly request any hush-hush money from me, & instead, used the old wink-wink, nudge-nudge, "contact-me-privately" tactic everyone's seen in a thousand old gangster movies!

Just because somebody requests me to write to them offlist, doesn't mean that I'm motivated or obligated to do so! In fact, let me just declare plainly here, that anyone who wants me to contact them offline about the legality of my antiquities, there's a particularly dark & smelly part of my body they are hereby invited to kiss (figuratively, of course).

Then, as if on cue, Yitzhak Sapir chimed in. I mentioned him briefly in Part 1, but he has a BSE in Computer Systems Engineering, lives in Petah Tikva, Israel, & is a terrific source for info pertaining to ancient seals. He's very knowledgeable, & I'm grateful for many of the references he's provided to current archeological events in Israel. Though I addressed a ridiculous comment he made on ANE-2 about repatriating coins, I refrained from publicly refuting another absurd claim of his:

"Perhaps the 'permit' you have seen is fake? Even if you do conclude that the IAA is guilty of criminal negligence and has issued 'permits' for the export of inscribed materials, against the law, that does not mean that the person who has the license may do so."

Say what??! If the 22 permits I've received from 4 licensed dealers are fake, that's the IAA's responsibility to investigate it, & bring the matter to my attention--it's not my responsibility since I have absolutely no reason whatsoever to doubt the legitimacy of any of my permits, which span 2001-2008, bearing signatures of 3 IAA employees.

If I were purchasing something obviously illegal, like narcotics or weapons or human slaves, & received a permit "legitimizing" them, then I might feel some sense of ought to report them; but of course, it wouldn't make much sense for me to buy them in the first place, then would it? I'm either a criminal who wants to commit a crime, or I'm an ordinary citizen who doesn't want to commit a crime. How often do you hear about someone robbing a bank, then immediately calling the police to report it as soon as the teller hands them the cash? "Hello, 911, yeah, get me the police, I just committed a crime & want to be caught..."

This just goes to show how irrational these otherwise-rational people can be on subjects they haven't researched. Just like Evolutionism proponents. It seems that no matter what I study nowadays, I need to combat what I can only describe as "ignorant intelligence".

"On the issue that is of great relevance to ANE, you offered to discuss the issue off-list on your blog because it would be deemed unacceptable for ANE."

That's because I knew that my answer would be deemed unscholarly by ANE-2's biased moderators. I'm not a scholar; I've never schooled anyone.

"On the issue for which an off-list response was requested, you took the discussion on list (although here too, I think antiquities theft of ANE artifacts is also of great relevance to the list)."

Mr. Sapir's own parenthetical remark cancels out his own point (if there even was one) since he states that I took the discussion to the list, & notes that my content was of "great relevance" to the list. Maybe this was just his strange way of complimenting me!

"Of course, I trust that "fund my own research" is not a euphemism for 'buying stolen antiquities on the black market.'"

That's another lame accusation since I've only purchased LMLK handles from reputable, licensed, legitimate antiquities dealers--I don't even know of any "black market." If Mr. Sapir has any firsthand knowledge of such a black market, I would encourage him to report his info to the proper authorities so they can launch an official investigation; but I'm guessing that he's simply demonstrating ignorant intelligence.

Mr. Zias posted another bizarre statement, again misinforming everyone by stating, "[A]ccording to the IAA, ... these 'LMK' [sic] handles which you have purchased are legal to purchase, but illegal to be taken abroad, as are all inscriptions."

I had already addressed this issue pertaining to coins, most of which are inscribed. David Hendin, a renowned & highly respected authority on Biblical coins, has been taking them AND LMLK handles out of Israel proudly & legally for decades, & selling them in New York under the fictitious business name (DBA), Amphora Coins. So at this point, Joe is either lying or being lied to by someone at the IAA ... or someone at the IAA is misinformed, misrepresenting their own policy, & again demonstrating ignorant intelligence (it may be contagious).

But here's where history gets fun:

"I doubt that you are in possession of any export permits which specifically state LMK [sic] stamped jar handles as no one in the IAA would have signed such a permit."

Really? I'm a degreed scientist ... a Test Engineer. I test all things & keep what's good, per 1Thessalonians 5:21. God enabled me to earn my living with this talent, & I've done fairly well so far, by God's good grace. Let's perform a scientific test on the credibility of Joe Zias:

The only part of this image (which is of a fax sent to me by the IAA-licensed dealer) I manipulated is the dealer's name, which I blacked out because it's irrelevant to discrediting my accuser. There's really no way for me to prove electronically that this permit wasn't faked in some other way by me or by the dealer (which is why I blacked it out), so I would encourage Joe--or anyone else in Israel, especially all current IAA employees--to go to the IAA, rummage through their filing system, & examine their own records to see if they match the image you see here (it's less than a year old; it can't be too hard to find).

For anyone questioning whether all dealers specify "Lamelech" like this on their permits ... they don't have to! Why? Because the IAA-licensed dealer provides a photo of the artifact to obtain the permit, so even if the dealer or IAA employee can't read a Paleo-Hebrew inscription (& the vast majority of them are illegible, capable of being read only by top-notch scholars like Joseph Naveh, Andre Lemaire, P. Kyle McCarter, Jr., & Christopher Rollston), or can't identify the seal design (& nearly all of them are fragmentary), an image of the object is still in the IAA's records for future examination. That's probably what the P# references, though the IAA could just as easily track them by the export number.

And let me emphasize here that I've never been to the IAA, & have no way of knowing what they actually do, or how they process/store their records. On the other hand, Joe Zias claims to have worked there from 1972-97, & yet wasn't aware that several IAA employees have indeed signed such permits, & that people like David Hendin have been taking them out for decades.

Have you noticed that Joe's credibility is suddenly resembling a hot-air ship named Hindenburg?

The recent permits for LMLK handles I've purchased from Robert Deutsch's auctions state only "clay handle", the auction catalog number, & lot number, where anyone in the IAA can clearly see the photo & his description of the LMLK inscription if they want to challenge its export legality, so this detailed info does not need to be included on the permit.

Earlier permits were of a completely different format that only state generically what the object was--a clay jar handle. Oddly enough, all 3 competitive dealers (who are not friends with each other) I bought handles from during those years were filled out in the same manner; it's as if either they were instructed by the IAA how to fill out the IAA forms (which would make sense)--or--the IAA employee filled it out for them (& I could probably demonstrate this in a court of law with a handwriting expert--they all look extremely similar).

Imagine that! Boy, there's a heck of a coincidence! It's as if the IAA either trained all of their employees or all of their licensed dealers on how to break the imaginary law that Joe's been misinforming people about!

Besides, since it's obviously not illegal to export ordinary inscribed LMLK handles (& all dealers & competent IAA employees know that), that means it doesn't matter whether the object is listed on the permit as "inscribed/stamped clay jar handle" or "clay jar handle", especially when most modern Hebrew-speakers can't read Paleo-Hebrew, & experts will debate whether a letter is, for example, a Dalet or a Resh, or a stray clay illusion.

Oh, & for anyone dumb enough (attn: Joe Zias) to believe the IAA employees were tricked into authorizing inscribed/stamped handles described simply as "clay jar handle" on the permit with poor photos of fragmentary, broken little handles, do you actually believe dealers earn their living selling ordinary clay jar handles for hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in their upscale boutiques? Do you really believe the IAA has been completely unaware of what they're actually authorizing? Even if Joe has that low of an opinion of the IAA employees, I certainly don't!

I would also interject here that I'm being extremely generous in posting this permit. Obviously, I'm under no legal obligation to do so. This in no way implies that I've never violated any law. I'm not attempting to present myself as some sort of "squeaky-clean morality machine" like Joe apparently wants everyone to believe about him; I'm merely proving Joker Bias Joe Zias to be wrong & ignorant on this issue.

I've not only violated numerous American laws, I've been convicted almost on a daily basis of rape &/or murder according to God's standards. Now in the big scheme of things, which do you think is worse if you believe in a judicious God (particularly the one revealed in the Judaeo-Christian Bible)? Remember, Christians know they're not perfect, just forgiven! We have a Savior who paid for our sins while we're living in this cursed world through the first man's faithlessness, & claim God's promise to redeem us for our faithful trust in Him. He is faithful & righteous, & will forgive you of your sins too, if you recognize you've violated His holy laws, & commit to putting Him front/center in your life. And if you don't believe God exists, & that everyone evolved randomly from lifeless minerals with no ultimate purpose, then any crimes I commit are really no big deal anyway, since nothing ultimately matters in that widely accepted scientific model.

Notice that the dates on that permit above are June/July of 2007. Probably the immediate response from my self-appointed inquisitors will be that this long preceded the impromptu, unsponsored, unauthorized inquisition conducted at ANE-2 back in Nov/Dec of 2007. Maybe the IAA employee who signed this permit was tricked, or incompetent. Surely things have changed, thanks to the mighty, fearful force of the great and powerful Wizard of Oz ... clown hiding behind a curtain ... Joe Zias. Right?

Oh dear ... lions & tigers & bears ... oh my! Hey Joker Joe, ya might wanna run your interpretation of Israeli law past the Director of the Robbery Prevention Division, Amir Ganor, next time before ya go runnin' your unlicensed mouth like that, & misinforming the community of scholars who (used to (?)) respect you. Of course, if you had done your homework (the kind that respectable PhD people do), you would've taken Rabbi Deutsch's advice posted here on The Royal Blog in June, 2006; then you wouldn't be looking like such a silly j@ck@ss joker right now.

The IAA doesn't allow the export of extremely rare artifacts, regardless of whether they're inscribed or not. LMLK inscriptions are extremely valuable to me, but in terms of archeological rarity, they're quite common/ordinary--thousands have been documented. Likewise for coins bearing ancient inscriptions--millions of them have been excavated & documented extensively.

So I deliberately asked this dealer to make sure the IAA employee wrote "inscribed" on this permit since some could argue that "LMLK" alone doesn't imply an inscription since most of them are fragmentary anyway, & some scholars refer to unstamped handles similar in form to LMLKs as "LMLK" handles. It's hard to argue that "inscribed" doesn't mean inscribed though!

Also, I deliberately cropped this permit photo after the word "inscribed" to keep everyone guessing as to the rest of the description, since it's irrelevant what the inscribed artifacts are. I merely wanted to prove the point that it's not illegal to export inscribed artifacts in general, & LMLK inscriptions specifically. If anyone, including the producers of the TV show, "60 Minutes" (produced by CBS--"completely biased system"), would like details, I'd encourage y'all to visit the IAA in person, & speak directly to the world's best authority on what's legal/illegal to export from Israel: Amir Ganor. I do not recommend that you consult with a bike-riding anthropologist.

"[Y]ou ... are unaware of the fact that you are collecting objects which were illegally exported and in most cases excavated illegally."

Now that Mr. Bias Zias has lost all credibility on this subject, we can dispense with the first part of his accusation--the part where he implied that all of my "objects" were illegally exported, since it's obviously not illegal to export inscribed artifacts in general, nor LMLK handles specifically, from Israel; but the latter part of his statement intrigues me.

How would he know if any--not to mention "most"--of the artifacts in my collection were excavated illegally, as opposed to being transferred from estate-collections acquired from casual surface-finds back in the early 1900s? It's almost as if he has firsthand knowledge of ongoing illegal activity. Hmm... Maybe he should consider reporting specific evidence to the Israeli law-enforcement authorities (or maybe he already has, & they've dismissed his fraudulent claims due to his lack of credibility).

I don't understand what good it does for his cause to merely post unscientific suspicions to a purportedly "evidence-based" message list such as ANE-2 ... unless of course he's simply trying to embarrass his former employer. Now I can't help but wonderfully wonder what the real reason was for his departure from the IAA:


Illicit activity on the side?


Or just intelligent ignorance?

Even if it were illegal to export ordinary inscribed jar-handles such as LMLKs, the IAA wouldn't need to see any permits to determine if the permit were fake, or misleading; all they'd have to do is look at my website that's been online now for 6 years (Happy anniversary to me, by the way), where I proudly display detailed photos of them, & even have a special page with links to dealers I've purchased most of them from (2 of them don't have websites, & 2 others are no longer in business [apparently])!

Furthermore, it's not the collector's responsibility to obtain or maintain the export permit--that's business between the IAA & the dealer who does the exporting. I've requested them from the dealers in Israel because, in case you can't tell, I'm like way into all things LMLK! I even own IAA permit #0484!!! (For those who don't know, that's the official archeological classification number assigned by Olga Tufnell to LMLK jars when she published the famous Lachish excavations.)

However, the handles & other artifacts I've bought from dealers in America don't need permits!!! Again, it's the responsibility of dealers & anyone who exports, sends out, or takes out antiquities from Israel. It's their responsibility to obtain the permit--not mine--I've never left America!

So if you're a collector staying in Israel, or a collector living outside of Israel, & some loud-mouthed baboon buffoon like Joe Zias asks you if you care to show him your permit to prove your handle was legally obtained, you can legally show him the darkest, smelliest portion of your anatomy (which Joe as an anthropologist is very knowledgeable on), & invite him to pucker up!

Wait a second, as one of my favorite scholars, Dr. Andrew Vaughn would say, this is just TGTBT (Too Good To Be True), so I have to repeat it for the hard of hearing (you know, the people God said through prophets would hear but not hear, & see but not see?):

I don't need to have a single permit for anything in my collection!

Isn't it wonderful?!! I'm not a Johnny Mathis fan, but I can't help singing right now:

This world is full of wondrous things it's true
But they wouldn't have much meaning without you
I'm aware of the treasures that I own
And I say to myself, it's wonderful, wonderful
Oh, so wonderful...

Back in December when I began composing this response, I was planning to present a different challenge to Mr. Zias. I was going to offer to submit all of my IAA permits, & my tax-payment forms (CA residents have to pay usage tax on out-of-state purchases) to Hershel Shanks, under the condition that Joe Zias would have to author a BAR-magazine article gratis citing & explaining the antiquities law he so vigilantly promotes. (Note--he's already written numerous articles for BAR, but is now adamantly against it & the organization that publishes it.)

Obviously, he would either have to accuse the IAA of gross incompetence, corruption, &/or negligence over the course of many years, or he would have to publicly admit that he has been completely wrong about his false accusations, that he has no credibility on the subject, promise to stick to subjects he knows well like Anthropology, & pen a convincingly sincere apology to numerous dealers & collectors (I'm not the only person who collects LMLK handles outside of Israel) for having misrepresented the IAA's policy in public forums (apparently) without authorization.

I was also going to recommend that current IAA Director, Shuka Dorfman, in the interest of Israeli culture & law, should co-author the article with Joe so that it would carry an air of authority, rather than sound simply like a disgruntled former employee who doesn't know what he's talking about. I was also going to insist that his article use one of the following titles:

"Former IAA Employee Finally Learns Law After 25 Years of Misrepresenting It"

"Zias: I Was Wrong--IAA Approves Export of Inscribed Material on Occasion"

"Zias: IAA Exports Israel's Heritage--Director to Blame"

"Zias Says IAA Director Should Resign: Export of Jar Handles Incriminates Him"

"Zias Says IAA Employees Should Be Fired for Complying with Law that Bothers Him"

Or one with a milder, more positive, uplifting theme:

"Export of Jar Handles by Robert Deutsch Good for Scientific Research"

"Zias Admits Israelite Jar Handles Put to Better Use in America by Grena"

"Zias Insists Israelite Artifacts Predating Muslim Myths of Allah Belong in Jerusalem"

"Zias Explains Why Squatting Muslims Should Pack Their Bags & Move to Mecca"

"Zias Investigation Prompts Arabs to Pledge Allegiance to Jewish State & Promote its Expansion"

(By the way, before I approve anyone wishing to add comments to this blog, note that you must state in your message which of these headlines you think is the most appropriate, or submit one of your own.)

I was even going to offer photocopies of my documentation to accompany the article (including the summer-2007 one I posted here free of charge out of the kindness of my heart), but demand the exact same hefty nominal fee charged by the IAA when providing information on their LMLK handles to me back in December 2002 (by the current Director of the IAA's National Treasures Department). Since the odds of this happening were equivalent to that of Abiogenesis (a Science-classroom fable taught in taxpayer-funded schools of America), I saw the opportunity to clarify the matter once & for all by simply obtaining a permit at the beginning of the year specifically stating that the artifacts were inscribed, & in some cases specifically inscribed "L M L K". And if Amir Ganor had not signed it, I was going to demand he publish a definitive statement on the issue. As it turns out, a signed export permit is the most definitive piece of evidence imaginable, because if I had only obtained an E-mail statement from him, people like Joe Zias could/would have accused me of forging it.

Case closed! Ruling in favor of LMLK dealers & collectors all over the world! And they sang together by course in praising & giving thanks unto the LORD: "For He is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel!" And all the people shouted with a great shout! Be glad in the LORD, & rejoice, ye righteous; & shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart! Oh, clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph!

"The fact that you do not know where the object actually came from puts your collecting somewhat on par with butterfly collecting..."

Really? I've not yet heard a single scholar anywhere in the world complain that my collection or my research is on the low par you're implying, Joe. My collection contains one of the best, if not the best set of undisputedly authentic LMLK inscriptions & icons, plus an exceptionally rare pithos specimen (though again, not unique enough to need to remain in its homeland--at least a dozen exist). I would like to compare my collection to that from the highly esteemed Kathleen Kenyon's "scientific" excavation of Jerusalem, but unfortunately, more than 4 decades have elapsed, & most of it still remains unpublished!

Here's a homework assignment for you: Visit the lobby-page of the new, just-opened, virtual LMLK Philatelic Museum, & count the number of times you see "Redondo Beach" compared to the number of times you see "Kenyon" or any institution in Israel!

You should stick to Anthropology where you have a decent reputation, Joe, & stay away from lepidopterology! And I definitely wouldn't recommend you ever try to apply for a job at the world-renowned Field Museum--according to their website, their lepidoptera collection "is an important resource for scientists & scholars."

I suspect that you've probably made similarly ignorant & demeaning remarks toward scientists working in fields outside of your specialty. Not very professional of you at all, Mr. Zias.

"Furthermore, are they authentic ?"

In all the years I've researched the subject, & nowhere in the scholarly literature on the subject, have I heard a single suggestion that any LMLK handle is fake (not counting the plastic replicas I've marketed, & that are in a couple of museums). I know of only a single genuine LMLK handle that someone attempted to forge an additional impression on, & according to the dealer, it was so obviously forged that it was not worth the risk to their credibility to attempt to market it as a damaged genuine specimen (if I had the opportunity, I probably would buy it for research purposes because my research credentials in this field are beyond question at this point--except of course by openly ignorant & heavily biased people like the anonymous idiot posting messages under the name of "gr8hands" at Chris Heard's blog). I've published this tidbit continuously on my splash-page for LMLK Dealers for years.

I would encourage anyone who has any tangible evidence of a fake LMLK jar handle, to report it to the IAA. I would hope that they would, in turn, inform me of it promptly as well, though they're obviously under no obligation to do so.

"[T]hose items which never would have been given an export license would have simply been taken out illegally which I suspect is the case with your jar handles."

The suspicions of a biased, now-disgraced, former IAA employee who is ignorant of his own country's laws, & ignorant on LMLKology doesn't really mean much to me. Your suspicion is about as relevant as that of any anonymous clown on the Internet!

Much to his credit, Yitzhak Sapir correctly pointed out my own violation of an ANE-2 protocol for name-calling Jim West as "Dr. tWist", & I voluntarily unsubscribed from their list. If anyone can prove that any of my LMLK handles were illegally exported, & force the Director responsible for the problem all these years to resign over it, I will promptly return them to the IAA at a complete financial loss. These handles have already served a 2nd purpose in their existence, by faithfully fulfilling God's answer to one of my prayers; & even if someone were to prove & convict me in a court of law for illegally acquiring these handles & I get tossed in jail for the rest of my mortal life, no one will ever be able to erase my permanent contributions to this little facet of human knowledge.

That's what made & continues to make it all worthwhile! Life is wonderful ... some days are good, some days are not so good ... & then you die ... & either reign eternally with Jesus & other faithful saints, or you go to Hell. Your choice. In some ways, purchasing LMLK handles helps you practice making good choices, & being on the lookout for a bargain, like the one offered to us by God.

"[O]ne of the dealers was selling these 'lamlk' handles for upwards of $500 US whereas one can find them for sale here for 50-100 US maximum."

I doubt Joe knows the difference between a 4-winged scarab & a butterfly, so I wouldn't expect him to know what drives the market value of these treasures! He obviously didn't take any classroom course on Economics, because he obviously can't conceive of marketing costs, profit margins, & what it would cost for foreign customers like me to travel to Israel to buy these handles in person at the prices he's observed. Or maybe Joe's just not as good with arithmetic as he is with anthropology!

Maybe now that Joe has learned that it's legal to export LMLK handles, maybe he'll apply for a license, acquire them for $50 each, & personally fly them to me here in California, where I would gladly purchase them for exactly that amount! ... Okay, maybe I'd give him a generous $5 tip if one of them were of the more rare specimens or better-quality impressions that normally fetch $500 or even $5,000.

After I left the list, Peter van der Veen testified that he, too, legally purchased & exported LMLK handles, & offered to show Joe Zias a copy of his permit. As you can see above, I had one too (actually 5 from 2 dealers--one from 2003 even says "clay handle 'lmlk zif'" because of its exceptionally clear inscription), but even if I had remained on ANE-2's list, I would not have shown him the permit because he is not a person of authority--he has no credentials, & doesn't merit an answer, except to the degree where he can be publicly displayed as a clown on this subject.

Of course, the reaction from Mr. Bozo Zias to the respectable Dr. van der Veen's offer was quite predictable:

"I have a feeling that as you are from a recognized university and that this was purchased for exhibition purposes that the rules could be interpreted differently for this reason."

What a pathetic cop-out by someone who doesn't have the guts to simply state he was wrong/ignorant! I might have been more gentle in my approach during this 2-part series if he were not still so arrogant regarding antiquities.

When I obtained my first IAA export-permit back in 2001 before I conducted or published any formal research, the IAA had no idea who I was, or what I would do with the artifact. (By the way, the older ones were signed for the "Director" of the IAA, possibly the Director himself--I've never seen Shuka Dorfman's signature, so I don't know if he signed it or just authorized his employees to sign it on his behalf after training them while supervising like any competent Director of a major organization would do.) They don't grant permits based on names because they don't do any sort of research into who the item is being exported to.

I've never read the Israeli law on this subject (again, that's the dealer's responsibility), but I doubt there's any exclusion clause that says, "If the 'Name of Receiver' on the permit is from a recognized university, it doesn't matter what the 'Artifacts Exported' are." The Receiver line could state "William Foxwell Albright" or "Joe Blow", & it wouldn't make a difference. (The wacky-scientist side of my nature would love to do an experiment by getting the dealer to put "Jack the Ripper" on the permit just to see what would happen!

Challenge #3 of 3: My 3rd & final challenge to Joe Zias alone is this: If you sincerely would like your "friends" at the IAA to institute a formal training program for their employees so they can adequately classify & accurately document the legal export of LMLK artifacts in detail, I'd be more than happy to provide a quote for the bulk purchase of customized LMLK training materials (books, CDs, templates, & extensive written instructions). Prices begin in the low millions. Please let me know so I can begin planning for my early retirement.

Finally, I sincerely hope that as a result of my expose on Joe Zias, the IAA will ban the export of all antiquities--not just inscribed ones, so the value of my collection will skyrocket. The only dilemma I'll face, is if/when I sell my collection one day, whether I'll have to share a cut of the huge profit with Joe for doing me the favor!

Happy April Fools Day everyone, courtesy of 2008's Clown of the Year: Joe Zias!

"Now we know that whatever The Law saith, it saith to them who are under The Law, that every mouth may be stopped, & all the world may become guilty before God."--Romans 3:19

Song of the month: "Is It A Crime" by Sade (click the song title to visit Amazon; click here for a 26-second sample; 328kb).
G.M. Grena

Excursus on name-calling: No doubt, I could've written this 2-part blog in a more civil, dignified, diplomatic manner sans name-calling. Many people, particularly Christians, will consider it derogatory & offensive, even inflammatory/inciting. I, however, obviously consider it appropriate, & an adequate reflection of how I feel regarding the facts of the matter. If you want bland information, visit your nearest university library. Furthermore, I consider my instances of name-calling above to be not only entertaining (for April Fools Day), but Christian:

"But when [John] saw many of the Pharisees & Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, 'O generation of vipers...'"--Matthew 3:7

"And Jesus knew their thoughts, & said unto them, '...O generation of vipers...'"--Matthew 12:25-34

"Woe unto you, scribes & Pharisees, hypocrites! ... Woe unto you, ye blind guides, ... Ye fools... Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers..."--Matthew 23:13-33

"And the Lord said unto him, '...Ye fools...'"--Luke 11:39-40

"And [the Lord] spake a parable unto them, saying, '...God said unto him, "Thou fool..."'"--Luke 12:16-20

"...Herod will kill thee. And [Jesus] said unto them, 'Go ye, & tell that fox...'"--Luke 13:31-2

"Then [Jesus] said unto them, 'O fools...'"--Luke 24:25

Read Paul too, under God's direct authority, in 1Corinthians 15:36 & Galatians 3:1.