Here's another. In my exchange with Lawrence Mykytiuk over unprovenanced bullae (inscribed clay seals) I asked when the "monster forgery machine" started operation. At the time available information pointed to the 1980s, but if Lemaire saw the inscribed ivory pomegranate in an antiquities shop in 1979, it appears that sophisticated forgers were active as far back as the 1970s. If we follow Larry Schiffman's dictum "The most exciting things are the things most likely to be forged," what other important inscriptions need to be looked at again? Should the Avigad bullae be reauthenticated? Mykytiuk wrote to me in August:
Since then, it has become difficult indeed to find any experienced, senior epigrapher who seriously doubts the authenticity of the first-known bulla of Berekyahu. How many can you name? What reasons do they give?
None. But the same could have been said until very recently about the ivory pomegranate, and that Baruch bulla certainly counts as one of the "most exciting things." Clearly we can no longer rely upon authentications from the 1980s and 1990s. As I've said before, I don't keep up much with Northwest Semitic epigraphy any more, so I'm asking those who do. Which are the exciting inscriptions we need to look at again? How do we go about reautheticating them? What new questions need to be asked about lapidary inscriptions, bullae, papyri, etc.?
If you want realtime expert commentary on the forgery scandal as it unfolds, keep an eye on Ralph the Sacred River and Serving the Word.