The Haaretz Weekend Magazine has two interesting articles related to the forgery trial of Oded Golan. I think they express well some of the arguments of the defense. I agree with Golan (and archaeologists who are not usually mentioned in the news) that the Jehoash Inscription is too sophisticated to be a forgery. The photograph from the 1970s showing the James Ossuary with the full inscription is significant testimony that the prosecution could not counter.
I don’t think there’s any question that the motivation of many of those claiming forgery here is a desire to eliminate the antiquities trade. As noble as that may be, it does not overturn the weight of the evidence that the primary artifacts in question (including also the ivory pomegranate) are authentic.
According to Golan, contrary to the argument of the IAA, the world of antiquities forgeries in Israel is very small and makes no economic sense: “In order to make the Jehoash tablet, you would have to work on it for at least a year and keep a team of experts on writing and on biology and geochemistry and archaeology, among others, and in the end you wouldn’t be able to sell it. You have to do everything in secret and you’ll always get someone who will say it is a fake.
“If you can do all that,” he continues, “you might as well go and print yourself dollars.”
According to Golan, the community of antiquities collectors constitutes a very limited group of knowledgeable individuals, all of whom are experts, to whom it is not easy to sell fakes. He also mentions the absence of any logic in the forgery of which he was accused in the case of the Jehoash tablet.
“I said during the investigation that even if I had intended to make forgeries, I definitely wouldn’t have written 200 letters [of the alphabet], in which you can make mistakes in syntax and shape, and all this on stone that’s going to break,” he asserts. “If I were to forge, I’d make do with writing: ‘The Temple, entrance here.’ And if I’ve already written ‘brother of Jesus,’ wouldn’t it have been logical to add ‘of Nazareth’? Without that, it all remains in the realm of fantasy.”
The prosecution claims that Golan is a “genius” who is able to convince scholars of all different fields that his creations are authentic. Golan doesn’t give himself so much credit.
The full article is worth reading, as is the sidebar about Ronny Reich who says, “It’s hard for me to believe that a forger (or group of forgers) could be so knowledgeable in all aspects of the inscription − that is, the physical, paleographic, linguistic and biblical ones − that they could produce such an object.”
It would be nice if the Jehoash Inscription went on public display in a museum. For previous posts about the Jehoash Inscription, see the following:
Jehoash Inscription: Five Scholars Claim Authentic
Jehoash Inscription: Geologists Think Authentic
HT: Joseph Lauer