The James Ossuary and the Jehoash Tablet.

Essay by mquincyCollege, UndergraduateA+, December 2007

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Professor Cline

Anthropology 188

Oded Golan's Forgeries

In the past few years, Israeli antiquities dealer, Oded Golan, came under suspicion for forging several of his "artifacts". Two of the best known pieces belonging to/created by Golan are the James Ossuary and the Jehoash Tablet. An ossuary is a chest that holds human skeletal remains, a "bone box", and was a popular method of burial for Jews during the Roman Period from about First Century BCE to 70 AD. The James Ossuary is noteworthy because of its inscription which reads "James, Son of Joseph, Brother of Jesus" most likely referring to Jesus of Nazareth. The other "antique" is the Jehoash Tablet. If authentic, the tablet is significant because it validates the truth of the writings in the Book of Kings by describing repairs made to the temple in Jerusalem by Jehoash, son of King Ahaziah of Judah which corresponded to the account in 2 Kings12.

The inscription would also be the first extra biblical mention of an Israelite king of that era (Shanks, 3/2003). While Oded Golan has not been convicted yet, I believe the evidence testifying to forgery is overwhelming.

The James Ossuary came under public speculation when a well known epigrapher, Andre Lemaire accepted the invitation back to Golan's place to look at an ossuary. At Golan's, Lemaire "discovered" the James Ossuary, as Golan claimed he did not know what the inscription stated. In Lemaire's expert opinion, the inscription appeared authentic, and the Ossuary passed the examination by the Geological Survey of Israel (Cline, 4/25/06). While this might seem like an extraordinary risk for a forger to take, an epigrapher's approval increases the value of antiques by consequential amounts.

After Lemaire's endorsement, Golan's treatment of the James Ossuary is another indication of its lack of authenticity.