James ossuary is genuine says BAR
|Israeli Consul General Meir Romem inspects the ancient stone box that was purported to hold the bones of James, brother of Jesus, when it was on display last year at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto [Credit: AP/Frank Gunn]|
The fact that the box was revealed through all this "hoopla" rather than through formal scientific publication is the main reason the Israeli government and many scientists doubt the authenticity of the box, Shanks said.
The government's claim that the ossuary is a forgery was based on three key pieces of evidence. 1) Clay expert Yuval Goren of Tel Aviv University claimed that he found an artificial patina, which he called the "James Bond," on the inscription. 2) A former employee of the Israel Antiquities Authority named Joe Zias claimed that he had previously seen the box in the shop of an antiquities dealer and that the words "brother of Jesus" were not on it. 3) An Egyptian craftsman or jeweler named Marco had claimed to have worked with Golan faking antiquities.
Marco never appeared at the trial because of difficulties in Egyptian-Israeli relations. But when Shanks visited him in his shop in Cairo's Kahn Khalili bazaar, Marco claimed that he had never helped Golan fake any artifacts. He told the same story to an Israeli newspaper and to Israeli police who visited him in Cairo, Shanks reported. Other sources, however, say Marco admitted faking items to the Israeli police. "It's a good thing the prosecutors did not call Marco as a witness," Shanks wrote. "He would have hurt their case still more."
Zias' claim also fell apart. He said he has seen the ossuary in an antiquities store called the Fortress of Antonia owned by Mahmoud Abushakra on the Via Dolorosa. Shanks tracked down Abushakra at his retirement home in Saxony, Germany. He said that he had never possessed such an ossuary. He did have one that said "Joseph, son of Judah, son of Hadas," but the inscription was kept facing a wall and Zias could not have seen it. Moreover, Zias admitted at the trial, he could not read Aramaic and thus would have no idea what the writing said even if he had seen it. After the trial, Zias said he had only been "joking" about seeing the ossuary and that Shanks had "no sense of humor."
|An inscription in Hebrew reading "Ya'acov", the Hebrew name for James, is seen on an ancient box used to bury human bones, or ossuary [Credit: Israel Antiquities Authority]|
Ultimately, the judge acquitted Golan of forging the inscription on the ossuary, but he did not rule on the authenticity of the ossuary. "The prosecution failed to prove beyond all reasonable doubt what was stated in the indictment: that the ossuary is a forgery and that Mr. Golan or someone acting on his behalf forged it," he wrote. "This is not to say that the inscription on the ossuary is true and authentic and was written 2000 years ago...There is nothing in these findings which necessarily proves that the items were authentic." And that probably will be the last word on the subject until, or if, other scientific evidence can be obtained.
Author: Thomas H. Maugh II | Source: Los Angeles Times [June 13, 2012]