Matthew Kalman has a very interesting article on the latest in the Jehoash Ossuary trial, reporting that the Israeli government is now demanding to keep the artifact on the basis that it is authentic! Kalman reports:
In a stunning about-turn, after losing a 10-year legal effort to prove that an Israeli antiquities collector faked an inscription from Solomon’s Temple, Israel’s deputy state attorney begged the high court in Jerusalem on Wednesday to allow the Israeli government to keep the artifact on the grounds that it is “an antiquity.”
Oded Golan, the Israeli antiquities collector who was acquitted of forging the Jehoash Tablet after a seven-year criminal trial, said he had offered to loan it to a museum for study and public display, but he would fight the attempts by the state to confiscate it.
Following Golan’s arrest, a panel of experts appointed by the Israel Antiquities Authority declared the Jehoash Tablet and the James ossuary fakes. Golan and four others were indicted in December 2004 on multiple counts of forgery and accused of being members of an international antiquities forgery ring. None of the charges held up in court.
A year after Golan’s acquittal, Judge Farkash ordered the prosecution to return the Jehoash Tablet, the James ossuary and the other items to Golan.
But after arguing for a decade that the Jehoash Tablet was a fake, the prosecution has suddenly decided it is an antiquity, and therefore the property of the state under the 1978 Israel Antiquities Law.
Read the full report for quotations from the prosecutor and defendant. Kalman concludes with the hint that a compromise may be in the offing. See here for expert analysis that the inscription is genuine.
Photo by Matthew Kalman