Forgery of the century? Israel in decade-long war over biblical artifacts

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Forgery of the century? Israel in decade-long war over biblical artifacts

Post by skfarblum on August 23rd 2013, 3:26 am

By Sasha Bogursky

Published August 19, 2013

| FoxNews.com

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A 10-year legal battle is drawing to a close in the Holy Land over several astounding biblical relics, including a limestone box said to have held the bones of the purported brother of Jesus and the first-ever relic of biblical King Solomon's First Temple.

But are they real or the greatest hoax in a hundred years?

Last year, the Israel Antiquities Authority failed to prove in court that the items were forged by antiquities collector Oded Golan. Now the IAA seems to have changed its tune, and the two parties found themselves in court again in early August. Now Israel wants to own the items it spent a decade calling fake.

"We understand the situation differently now," the state argued in court, according to Israeli paper Haaretz. "It's ours ... and we have the right to do whatever we want with our property."

The Israeli Supreme Court will soon rule on who will possess the items, Golan or the state -- a crazy situation, said Hershel Shanks, editor-in-chief of Biblical Archaeology Review.


"They've been charging him for a dozen years, making his life miserable, arresting him, confining him to his home, causing enormous expense ... and now they seem to be saying it's authentic? It's hard to understand," he told FoxNews.com.

The Solomon-era relic is at the forefront of the battle. Called the Yoash tablet, it is a rectangular stone about the size of a hardbound book, inscribed with 15 lines of ancient script detailing repairs made to Solomon's temple, which echo a passage from the Old Testament.

According to the Bible, Solomon built the First Temple on Mount Zion where the modern Dome of the Rock currently stands. (King Herod built the Second Temple on the same site, of which the Wailing Wall is the last remaining part.) Said to have been destroyed in 587 B.C., there is no proof of the First Temple outside of the Bible -- save for the Yoash tablet.

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The other item is an ossuary, a limestone box built to hold the bones of the dead. Called the James ossuary, the small stone box has an inscription that reads, "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus." If authentic, it would be considered the first physical link to Jesus.

When a French archaeologist suggested the bone box might be more than just an ordinary relic, Golan put it on display at a museum. Two years later, the IAA began questioning its authenticity. And after 10 years, 12,000 pages of documents, and more than 100 hearings, the world of archaeology is more divided than ever.

"In its heart of hearts, the state thinks ... that one day it will turn out that the inscription is not fake," Golan's defense attorney David Barhum said.

The state now maintains that the inscription on the limestone box and the tablet are forged -- but the stones themselves are ancient and therefore belong to the state.

For its part, the IAA declined to comment after several days of repeated efforts by FoxNews.com.

"The IAA does not give interviews on that issue," the agency said.

The challenge in proving the Yoash tablet real is that it was found at an antiquities store, and not in the ground, explained Jonathan Rosenbaum, an expert in antiquities forgery and president emeritus of Gratz College in Pennsylvania.

"We have no way of really knowing its background and where it came from. This is a common problem," he told FoxNews.com.

Experts look at three areas to determine authenticity: the style of the writing, the language of the inscription and the geological makeup of the material. Experts in these three fields have come to different conclusions, Rosenbaum said, but he believes it to be a fake.

"The likelihood is it could be forged. And a number of scholars would probably lean in that direction," he said.

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As to the James ossuary, Rosenbaum explains that it would be easy for an antiquities collector to come into possession of a relic and simply add a controversial inscription.

"All they had to do was put words on it and it becomes historically significant. With the James ossuary, the box is authentic, but the inscription added on is not."

Forgers would have a huge financial motive to fake ancient artifacts, especially ones of these significance. Rosenbaum estimates the Yoash tablet could fetch millions.

"If you can produce something that scholars will debate, then you've got the potential if you are the owner for millions," he told FoxNews.com.

He suggests that the James ossuary and the Yoash tablet be held for safe keeping while the experts determine their authenticity.

"Hopefully in a few years we will know the truth."
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Re: Forgery of the century? Israel in decade-long war over biblical artifacts

Post by Aussiepom on August 23rd 2013, 11:53 am

Interesting history here,Stephen.   All the information you have mentioned,I remember reading about.
You are bringing out this interest in me again.

I love reading about anything historical.  The histories of the UK,the Royal kings and queens.  Way back as far as I can get.     The history of religion as well in most countries.   Israel and the history of Jesus Christ if only to prove he did exist.   I would like to find some proof that says he is truly the son of God.
Born of mortal men.

I would like to go further back than that period.    I would like to connect with Silver Birch,you remember Silver Birch being mentioned as one of the Great Spirits.
He spoke a lot of the Great Spirit meaning I think,God.   Now we are talking of the son of the Great Spirit.
Trying to connect the man we call Jesus to God himself to prove that Jesus was indeed of 'Royal Birth' and not a made up story.....

These relics they have found would they fall into that category?

Joan xx
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Re: Forgery of the century? Israel in decade-long war over biblical artifacts

Post by skfarblum on August 23rd 2013, 12:29 pm

I think dear Joan.you need not look for an historical Jesus.
If you look inside you will find him.Don't look outside.
Outside lurks betrayal.When he comes to you all your
doubts will disappear.
Stephen
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Re: Forgery of the century? Israel in decade-long war over biblical artifacts

Post by Aussiepom on August 23rd 2013, 4:26 pm

skfarblum wrote:I think dear Joan.you need not look for an historical Jesus.
If you look inside you will find him.Don't look outside.
Outside lurks betrayal.When he comes to you all your
doubts will disappear.
Stephen
  I feel many a time I have found Him,Stephen.....When things go wrong and I get rather annoyed....I am sure I hear a little voice say 'Tut,tut!'.....Our conscious mind or Jesus?
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Re: Forgery of the century? Israel in decade-long war over biblical artifacts

Post by skfarblum on August 23rd 2013, 11:03 pm

Bit of each?
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Re: Forgery of the century? Israel in decade-long war over biblical artifacts

Post by Aussiepom on August 24th 2013, 7:53 am

Correct.   When to feel anger and when not....Praying
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