Oded Golan Found Innocent

Golan had been accused of forging the “James ossuary” and “Jehoash tablet.” Trial lasted 7 years. Judge’s verdict this morning: Innocent.  — Matti Friedman (Jerusalem journalist)

Matti’s full report is found here.

An Israeli collector accused of antiquities fraud in a complex trial that lasted seven years was acquitted Wednesday — a stunning reversal for the prosecution and a victory for a defendant maligned as an arch-forger who falsified history for personal gain.

Oded Golan had been charged with faking biblical artifacts, including two finds that made international headlines: the “James ossuary,” a stone box bearing an inscription identifying it as containing the bones of James, brother of Jesus, and the “Jehoash tablet,” with an inscription supporting the biblical narrative about the Temple in Jerusalem.

The District Court in Jerusalem acquitted Oded Golan of all charges of forgery and fraud. The judge, Aharon Farkash, convicted him only of minor charges of selling antiquities without a permit and possession of items suspected to be stolen.

In his decision, the judge was careful to say his acquittal of Golan did not mean the artifacts were necessarily genuine, only that the prosecution had failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Golan had faked them.

Indeed- there is no doubt that the artifacts are faked.  Not guilty isn’t the same as not a forger.


It became clear as Farkash read his ruling Wednesday that nearly nothing of the state’s case against Golan remained.

The judge took Golan to task for giving different accounts to authorities at different times, saying he “tried to create facts that were convenient for him.” But the judge ruled that the prosecution had failed to prove Golan had faked the ossuary, the tablet, or any of the other artifacts included in the indictment.

He said police had badly bungled a forensic check and had possibly contaminated the ossuary, making it impossible to reach a clear conclusion about whether its Aramaic inscription had been forged.

Bungled police work…  how disappointing and how damaging to the field of archaeology.  It’s a sad day.

1 thought on “Oded Golan Found Innocent

  1. Pingback: Verdict in the James Ossuary Trial: Not Guilty on All Counts « Exploring Our Matrix

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