High school students restore vandalized Ashdod historic site after ‘paint party’

Instead of reporting the remorseful students to the police, the IAA used the incident as a lesson in civic responsibility.

June 13, 2016 17:12
1 minute read.
Teenagers clean archeological site

One of the teenagers responsible for dousing the wall in paint works with IAA archeologists to restore it.. (photo credit: ARIEL INBAR/IAA)

After dousing the walls of the ancient citadel at Ashdod-Yam with brightly colored paint during a party, the four high school students responsible for the vandalism made amends by working with the Antiquities Authority to restore the heritage site, the authority said on Monday.

On April 27, the unidentified teenagers gathered for a raucous celebration at the 13th-century structure, which had been excavated, restored and opened to the public, said AA archeologist Nir Taran, who oversees the Ashdod and Ashkelon regions.

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“They threw paint at each other and on the walls,” said Taran by phone on Monday afternoon.

“This place is an ancient fort and archeological site, so what they did was illegal.”

Less than three days later, he said AA inspectors tracked down the students after they posted pictures from the party on social media.

“We contacted their school and scheduled a meeting with their principal, teachers and parents to explain the seriousness of their behavior, and the students apologized and said they did not intend to cause any damage,” he said.

“During the meeting they agreed to come back to the site to restore it.”

Taran said the authority took the students up on their offer, and for two long days in mid- May the teens worked along side its Restoration Department to delicately clean the walls of the paint until it was completely removed.

Instead of reporting the remorseful students to the police, the archeologist said that the AA used the incident as a lesson in civic responsibility.

“The fact that they expressed remorse was important, and therefore our attitude was to teach instead of punish, so that the public will be more aware of archeological preservation through education instead of punishment,” he said.

“It is better to use a carrot than a stick in these matters.”

In an ongoing campaign to raise awareness about the importance of preserving antiquities, the authority has worked with thousands of student volunteers throughout the country who have participated in important excavations.

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