The James Ossuary And The Jehoash Tablet.

1059 words - 4 pages

Professor ClineAnthropology 188Oded Golan's ForgeriesIn the past few years, Israeli antiquities dealer, Oded Golan, came under suspicion for forging several of his "artifacts". Two of the best known pieces belonging to/created by Golan are the James Ossuary and the Jehoash Tablet. An ossuary is a chest that holds human skeletal remains, a "bone box", and was a popular method of burial for Jews during the Roman Period from about First Century BCE to 70 AD. The James Ossuary is noteworthy because of its inscription which reads "James, Son of Joseph, Brother of Jesus" most likely referring to Jesus of Nazareth. The other "antique" is the Jehoash Tablet. If authentic, the tablet is significant because it validates the truth of the writings in the Book of Kings by describing repairs made to the temple in Jerusalem by Jehoash, son of King Ahaziah of Judah which corresponded to the account in 2 Kings12. The inscription would also be the first extra biblical mention of an Israelite king of that era (Shanks, 3/2003). While Oded Golan has not been convicted yet, I believe the evidence testifying to forgery is overwhelming.The James Ossuary came under public speculation when a well known epigrapher, Andre Lemaire accepted the invitation back to Golan's place to look at an ossuary. At Golan's, Lemaire "discovered" the James Ossuary, as Golan claimed he did not know what the inscription stated. In Lemaire's expert opinion, the inscription appeared authentic, and the Ossuary passed the examination by the Geological Survey of Israel (Cline, 4/25/06). While this might seem like an extraordinary risk for a forger to take, an epigrapher's approval increases the value of antiques by consequential amounts.After Lemaire's endorsement, Golan's treatment of the James Ossuary is another indication of its lack of authenticity. When shipped over various distances, most archaeologists or antique dealers take painstaking effort in making sure their artifacts are well protected. In contrast, the ossuary arrived at an archaeological conference in Toronto in 2002 packed only in a cardboard box with a few layers of bubble-wrap surrounding the ancient stone. Not surprisingly, the stone cracked. However Golan had insured the Ossuary for about two million dollars, so in one move he attempted to make a lot of money and prevent the experts from being able to discover anything suspicious about his "artifact" (Cline, 4/25/06).While mending the cracks, the repairers found several incongruent elements in the inscription. Some experts believe it was written by two different authors where "James, son of Joseph" is authentic, but "brother of Jesus" was added on later by Golan. Yuval Goren and Avner Ayalon of GSI, members of "The Fraud Squad" (Cline, 4/25/06) identified three different coatings in the ossuary, the last of which was artificial and covered only the inscription. Letters had been cut through the patina and covered with artificial coating. Some scholars attribute the...

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