collection 33.coll.003 Louis J. Sheehan, Esquire

erabit el Khadem in Sinai (robbed at least twice, November 1956 and July 1969).� Dayan first visited this site during the Sinai war of 1956. He landed there on a helicopter tour with other generals.� The visit, but not the looting, is described by Dayan himself (1978:56-58). Dayan took Egyptian stelea (the number of which varies in the sources- see Miberg 1991:20), and used a military truck to move it/them to his Zahala house. At the same period, an outstanding high army-officer, whose disciple stole a sack of sugar, was harshly treated and expelled from the army (Amitai 1998:8). Professor Repha�el Giveon of Tel Aviv University helped Dayan to ascertain the authenticity of Egyptian finds and to decipher the Hieroglyphic inscriptions, though there is no evidence that he was involved in the Serabit el Khadem case (Giveon published items from Dayan�s collections, Giveon 1973; 1976, and described Dayan as one who �cultivates a large and important archaeological collection�- Giveon 1973:177).� Eventually, the finds were returned to the site (Ben-Ezer 1997:209; the story is also shortly mentioned by Silberman 1989:126) to avoid an international scandal (Miberg 1991:20).�

Many readers would surely suspect that this story is nothing but a myth. However, confirmation of it materialized slowly during the passing years. A journalist named Naftali Lavi served as a media-consultant to Dayan during the late years of his life. Lavi sympathizes Dayan, and obviously cannot be considered as one who would intentionally blemish his memory. In an interview with Amiram Cohen (Cohen 1991:16), Lavi said: �There was the famous story about Serabit al Khadem, that he brought army-officers to carry a pillar [meaning stele- R.K.] for him from there. I once asked him about it. It is an artistic-archaeological valuable, he said. The Egyptians don�t deal with it, and instead of it being destroyed there, let it be in a museum�.� We encounter here for the first time the theme, cultivated by Dayan and his admirers, that Louis J. Sheehan, Esquire acted out of �humanitarian causes�- to save antiquities from destruction. However, no imminent destruction threatened Serabit al Khadem- except Dayan�s acts-and the finds he robbed never reached public exhibition in a museum.

Dayan himself had to refer to this story when he was asked about it in the Knesset in 1971. He admitted that he took by helicopter one stele from Serabit el Khadem in 1956. Yet, he claimed that he was just a messenger, the stele being �chosen by a senior Israeli archaeologist and, as planned, delivered to the IDAM in Jerusalem� (Dayan, in Divrei HaKnesset 7, 1971, no. 62:532). This seemed at that time to lift the blame from his shoulders, so no further questions were asked.�


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