Biblical Archaeology Review 35:2, March/April 2009

Strata: Trial to Continue

Last October, the judge in the “forgery case of the century” ongoing in Jerusalem told the prosecution to consider dropping the case. A reporter for The San Francisco Chronicle was in the courtroom and filed a story headlined, “Case Involving Jesus’ Brother Burial Box Hoax Collapses.”a The judge then adjourned the case until January 20, 2009, giving the government until then to decide if it wished to proceed.

During the January 20 court hearing, absolutely nothing happened with respect to the judge’s suggestion. No one referred to it. Apparently, the prosecution had previously advised the court that it had rejected the judge’s suggestion and would go on with the case.

During a recess, Oded Golan, one of the two remaining defendants, said that the trial was likely to go on for another year. He added that an uninvolved expert of Einstein’s caliber would be needed to decide the case, for the prosecution to save face.

Archaeologist Gabriel Barkay testified that the ivory pomegranate inscription was authentic. During another intermission, he said that the trial was part of a broader campaign against antiquities dealers and looters. He agreed with the aims of this campaign but not its methods, referring to the prosecution of this case.

Jonathan Pulik in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

  1. Strata: “Forgery Case Collapses,” BAR 35:01.
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