I switched tack. "What is the policy that determines whether I can go inside?"
"The policy is it's up to the management."
"But the management is you."
"Yeah, it's me."
"So, may I please see it?" I asked.
His lips curled into a smile. "No."
In 2007 Greenberg sued the previous SOA to force him to disclose information about his activities. The resulting document was stunning. "I discovered this
sort of parallel universe," he said--an expansive list of more than 6,000 sites that had been surveyed or excavated, kept out of sight from both the public
and the academy.
Greenberg's concern about the secrecy surrounding the ADCA extends beyond simply access to data. Internal documents from the Archaeology
Advisory Committee -- the committee that screens permit applications from foreign archaeologists -- revealed a startling lack of discussion about policy,
One applicant, Vendyl Jones (since deceased), had previously been barred from digging anywhere under Israeli control due to his extremely destructive
methods. In her book Unholy Business, reporter Nina Burleigh described an episode in which Jones used a bulldozer to clear a road to one of his
excavations, doing unknown damage to archaeological remains. Despite the ban against him, Jones was approved to excavate in the West Bank.
At a glance, the approval of biblical pseudo-scientists like Jones seems to reveal a glaring inability on part of the ADCA to uphold its own mission of
preserving cultural antiquities. In reality, it underscores the unchecked power that the organization, and Hizmi in particular, enjoys. "The requests
appear to be approved automatically once they have the support of the SOA," Greenberg said, after reviewing the documents. "They rubber stamped it."
"The site that is most often discussed is, of course, Qumran," Greenberg said, "which attracts no end of oddballs."
With just days to go before the end of his 10-year exploration of Qumran, Price gathered his team of volunteers in a semi-circle around him, and began to
preach. The pre-dawn sermons and prayers had become a daily ritual to steel them for hours of digging in 100-degree heat.
"If you are a member of the Qumran community and you transported to now, what question should you be asking?" Price said to the group. "Why didn't [the
Messiah] come as expected? Well, from our perspective, he came."
There were head nods and sounds of praise. To the group, Price is more than a scholar; he is a spiritual leader, more often referred to as "pastor" than
"doctor." And their work went beyond the study of an obscure priesthood from antiquity; it connected them directly to thousands of years of living
revelation. "Two thousand years later you see a Jewish nation, enemies on all sides, and nations like Iran threatening them," he said. "It comes down to a
plan, just like this dig."