Biblical Archaeology Review 38:2, March/April 2012

Strata: Five Years and Counting—The Forgery Trial

Perhaps by the time these words appear in print, the world will know the result of the so-called “forgery trial of the century.” The case charged five defendants with a vast forgery ring, including forging a bone box inscribed “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus,” an inscribed ivory pomegranate that supposedly came from Solomon’s Temple, as well as a 15-line inscription that, if authentic, would be the first royal Israelite inscription ever discovered.

Three of the original defendants were dismissed from the case. The case against the remaining two defendants ended in October 2010. Since then, the world has been awaiting Judge Aharon Farkash’s decision.

Matthew Kalman, an Israeli freelance journalist, attended almost every session of the trial, the only journalist to have done so. He has conveniently gathered the statistics for us:

• The trial lasted from June 2005 to October 2010, a period of 5.5 years. (The indictment charging the defendants was filed in late 2004.)

• The trial produced a transcript of over 12,000 pages.

• Over 400 exhibits were entered in the record.

• 138 witnesses testified.

Since juries are not used in the Israeli judicial system, the decision will be made by the judge. Presumably he will explain his decision in a written opinion.

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