About Morag Kersel

Morag Kersel

Morag M. Kersel is an archaeologist who works in the Eastern Mediterranean in the Neolithic, Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age periods. Morag is associate professor of anthropology and director of the Museum Studies Minor at DePaul University. In addition to participating in archaeological excavations and surveys in Egypt, Greece, Israel, Jordan, Palestine, and Turkey, Morag is interested in the relationship between cultural heritage law, archaeological sites and objects, and local interaction. She is a co-director of the Follow the Pots project [https://followthepotsproject.org] investigating the lives and itineraries of Early Bronze Age pots from the Dead Sea Plain in Jordan. She earned a PhD in Archaeology from the University of Cambridge. She also holds a Master of Historic Preservation (with Distinction) from the University of Georgia, a Master of Arts in Near Eastern Studies from the University of Toronto and a Bachelor of Arts (Honors) in Classical Studies from Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada. She has published a number of articles and is the co-author (with Christina Luke) U.S. Cultural Diplomacy and Archaeology: Soft Power, Hard Heritage (2013) and co-editor (with M.T. Rutz ) of Archaeologies of Text: Archaeology, Technology, and Ethics (2014).

Presenter at

Bible & Archaeology Fest XXV, October 8 & 9, 2022
Buying the Holy Land: Tourists, Souvenirs, and Purchasing the Past

“A pot from the city of sin?” or “something from the time of Jesus”: These quotes from tourists make clear that everyone who visits Israel wants to own a piece of the Holy Land (modern Jordan, Israel, and Palestine). Under Israel’sAntiquities Law, it is legal to buy artifacts in shops licensed by the Israel Antiquities Authority and many tourists take advantage of the licensed trade. As a part of my research into the movement of archaeological artifacts and the laws that facilitate and impede this movement, I conduct ethnographic interviews with tourists who buy artifacts. After many conversations, patterns began to emerge such that I grouped sets of consumers together, creating a series of categories based on shared characteristics. I will present the types of consumers, the shops they visit, the materials they procure, and their rationales for purchasing the past. Whatever the reason, tourist demand for archaeological artifacts from the Holy Land results in archaeological site destruction, theft from museums, and a compromised understanding of the past.

Bible & Archaeology Fest XXIV, October 16 – 17, 2021 Panelist