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Strata: BAR Editor Charged with Pivotal Role in Fraud and Forgery

Professor Yuval Goren, former chairman of Tel Aviv University’s Institute of Archaeology and the dominating scientific member of the committees of the Israel Antiquities Authority that found the James Ossuary inscription and the ivory pomegranate inscription to be forgeries, has accused BAR editor Hershel Shanks of criminal involvement in the forgery. BAR and Shanks have defended the authenticity of both inscriptions.

The ossuary, or bone box, is inscribed, “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.”

The ivory pomegranate is inscribed, “(Belonging) to the Temple of [Yahwe]h; holy to the priests.” If authentic, this would appear to be the only surviving relic from Solomon’s Temple.

The court proceedings Goren refers to in the e-mail printed above is the forgery trial that originally was brought against five defendants. Two have been dismissed. A third pleaded guilty to a minor offense not involving forgery. The remaining two defendants are Oded Golan, a Tel Aviv collector who owns the ossuary, and Robert Deutsch, a Tel Aviv antiquities dealer and the author of several books on ancient inscriptions. The trial has now been going on for nearly four years.

Both the ossuary inscription and the pomegranate inscription received their first English publication in BAR.a

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