Wednesday, June 18, 2003


First the "Joash Inscription" and now this:

Israeli Antiquities Authority says 'James Ossuary' deemed a fake (CNews)

JERUSALEM (AP-CP) - An ancient burial box purported to have held the bones of Jesus' brother, James, is a fake, Israel's Antiquities Authority said Wednesday.

The ossuary, which bore the inscription "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus," had been touted by some scholars as the oldest archeological link to New Testament figures. But Israeli officials described that inscription, as well as another purported archeological marvel, the "Yoash inscription," as "forgeries." "The inscriptions, possibly inscribed in two separate stages, are not authentic," the Antiquities Authority said in a statement. The officials reached their conclusions after intensive exams by several committees of experts.

Oded Golan, the Israeli owner of the "James ossuary," dismissed the officials' findings.


Bummer. Nothing yet on the Israel Antiquities Authority website (whose news page hasn't been updated since the fall of 2001). I'm reserving judgment until I see a full publication.

UPDATE: More in the Jerusalem Post (requires free registration; via Rochelle Altman in Ioudaios-L).

UPDATE: Reader Justin Winger notes this article in the online edition of Archaeology Magazine:

"GOLD DUST AND JAMES BOND: Israel Antiquities Authority declares James Ossuary and Jehoash Inscription Fake"

It gives much more information than the press releases and promises a full article in the September/October issue. Bottom line: the committee agrees that the object is a genuine ancient ossuary but the inscription was incised much later. The epigraphers were divided on whether the inscription was genuine but the geologists agree that the patina on the letters is fake. Also, the "Joash Inscription" was rejected as fake both by epigraphers and geologists on the grounds of language and letter-shape errors and another fake patina on the letters.

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