posted on Dec, 26 2013 @ 02:20 PM
OK – here's the story.
At a very young age (16?*) an Israeli guy named Oded Golan buys an ossuary from an Arab trader. He has no idea of its value but keeps it safe for
thirty five years. Then, perchance, he arranges a viewing by a visiting biblical scholar – the Sorbonne's Andre Lemaire – who almost immediately
identifies the inscription as referring to Jesus of Nazareth and his brother James. OK, he's a Catholic but he's a scholar, right?
Now, with an artifact literally priceless, and reputed insured for $2 million, Oded ships his ossuary to Canada in a cardboard box lined with bubble
wrap, where it arrives in pieces. Are you buying this? Well you better take your mother with you when you next buy a car.
"Golan himself didn't get too excited when he heard about the cracks in his ossuary."
– Ha'aretz April 2003
Alas, for fans of the divine salvation plan, the story of this "priceless artifact" shattered as easily as the bone box itself. In December 2004,
Golan was indicted as the mastermind behind an international antiquities forgery ring, operational for twenty years and with many "ancient finds" to
its credit. Fakes able to fool biblical experts take a lot of skill but the religious antiquities market is especially lucrative. The world's museums
vie with wealthy private collectors for that elusive evidence of "God's hand in history".
Sadly, the religiously gullible will always be with us and there will always be smart criminals ready to feed their addiction.
PS: Israeli law changed in 1978. If an artifact was bought after this date it reverted to the state.
So when did you buy your ossuary, sir?
Marco Ghatas, an Egyptian artist and jeweller, has confessed to manufacturing many items for Golan, based on sketches supplied by him. Other members
of the forgery ring have turned state's evidence.
An ossuary bearing the name Jacob, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus, in Aramaic, was, it seems, originally found in the basement of a museum by Prof.
E.L. Sukenik of Hebrew University around 1926. Subsequently, it was lost...
1) There are six ossuaries carrying the name Jesus.
2) There are two ossuaries carrying the names Jesus, son of Joseph.
One of those ossuaries - carrying the name Jesus, son of Joseph (in Hebrew, catalogue no. 80.503) - was found in a family cave in March 1980 in
The same cave also contained another nine ossuaries, with the names Joseph (in Hebrew), Mary (of the same period], Mary (in Greek), and Judah, son of
Jesus (different date).
June 18, 2003:
Israel Antiquities Authority declares James Ossuary (and Jehoash Inscription) Fake
Well, what a surprise! The scientific panel has reached its verdict: FAKE. Long after the natural processes of a damp cave environment had coated the
ossuary with "biovermiculation" and patina, someone carved a series of letters through this natural varnish. He then covered the freshly cut letters
with an imitation patina made from hot water and ground chalk – a sort of baked on "soup", microfossils and all.
Only advanced technology saved us from being duped by another foolish relic. If the same scam had been tried just fifty years ago, everyone (well,
almost everyone!) would have had no self defense and would have accepted this nonsense as 'real proof' of the god-man.
The warning is clear. Expect ever more sophisticated forgeries as the forgers master new technologies.