First, there’s a brief editorial on the subject of the trial titled “Archaeology in a hole” online here. The main story, ‘Forged in Faith’ is currently behind The Jerusalem Report paywall here. Matthew has sent along a copy of the full essay and below I excerpt brief snippets which I find intriguing and have been given permission to share.
By way of background the essay opens with a description of the appearance of the ‘James ossuary’ and ‘Jehoash Tablet’ and the eventual arrest of Golan and his co-defendants. Then Kalman writes
In March 2012, Golan was acquitted on all 41 of the most serious crimes and convicted of just three minor misdemeanors unrelated to the to the ossuary or the tablet. … But despite Golan’s acquittal, the IAA continues to regard him as a crook, refusing to return any of the items they seized in 2003. Back home at his apartment in Tel Aviv … containing dozens of ancient artifacts, Golan says the IAA seems determined to punish him even though he is innocent. He is just as determined to get the artifacts back and put them on public display.
Judge Farkash is expected to rule in August on the fate of the artifacts. In the eyes of the archaeological establishment, despite his complete exoneration by the judge after an exhaustive seven year trial, Golan remains a crook. At the time of his arrest, the police and the IAA believed they had caught a master criminal and major forger. “We still do,” a senior IAA official tells The Report. “We know that he produced the artifacts.”
The essay includes a good bit about Golan’s background and his interest in ancient artifacts as well as his acquisition of the ossuary and the interest which Andre Lemaire had in it when he saw a photograph of it in one of Golan’s albums:
Andre Lemaire, a visiting professor of ancient languages from the Sorbonne, was leafing through the albums of Golan’s collection when he came across a photograph of the ossuary with the eye-popping inscription “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.” Golan was surprised by Lemaire’s interest. He had thought the ossuary worthless.
It was, then, Lemaire’s interest which brought the ossuary to light in the pages of BAR.
Kalman also describes the ‘Jehoash Tablet’ and the path – rather amazing- which these artifacts took to arrive finally in an Israeli courtroom. Then he remarks
Golan’s acquittal and the Judge’s penetrating criticism of the prosecution case do not appear to have discouraged IAA officials who continue to refer to the items as fakes, and to Golan as a forger. They say they only lost because Marco Ghatas, his alleged Egyptian co-conspirator, refused to testify. Indeed, the IAA appears to have a broader agenda: to shut down even the legal trade in antiquities altogether.
The essay turns next then to the debate between those who think the antiquities trade hurts archaeology or preserves items which would otherwise be lost. It concludes with a description of Golan’s sentence and the Judge’s comments about the case (along with one final word about the Jehoash Tablet’s acquisition by Golan).
Kalman’s essay is an extremely well written, fair, and intelligent piece and unlike BAR doesn’t screech and scream and clap gleeful hands in childish self-congratulatory tones. I recommend that those who have an interest in the topic read it straightaway.
- Matthew Kalman’s Report on the ‘James Ossuary’ Trial (zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com)
- Oded Golan Sentenced and the Fate of the ‘James Ossuary’ Decided (zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com)
- Nina Burleigh on the Trial of the Century: Golan, Shanks, A Smear Campaign and Money (zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com)
- Hershel Shanks Claims the Trial of the Century PROVED the James Ossuary Inscription Authentic (zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com)