Monday, July 14, 2014

Rosenfeld on the Israel Forgery Trial

AMNON ROSENFELD: The Antiquities Game - Behind the Trial of the Century (Bible and Interpretation)
The IAA rejected our conclusions out of hand and scolded the GSI for even allowing tests on unprovenanced antiquities. The major criticism was not against the scientific validity of our research, but that the very testing of unprovenanced items would encourage looting at many of Israel’s archaeological sites. We were accused of sensationalism, naivety, and branded as intruders into the domain of biblical scholars and archaeologists.
(As reported over the weekend by Jack Sasson and Joseph Lauer and noted at the link, tragically, Dr. Rosenfeld died in a car accident on the 10th of July. May his memory be for a blessing.)

This is a long article and I won't try to excerpt it. For my part, I remain unconvinced on philological grounds that the Jehoash (Joash) Inscription is genuine and I find persuasive the argument that the plentitude of unprovenanced biblical-era Hebrew inscriptions vs. the few in Aramaic, Ammonite, Moabite, etc., as well as in contrast to the paucity of inscriptions found in controlled excavations, is suspicious and points in the direction of a lot of those Hebrew inscriptions being forgeries.

More on the Jehoash Inscription and the Israel Forgery Trial here and links. Some years ago I linked to a summary article of the case made by Dr. Rosenfeld and his colleagues for the authenticity of the Jehoash Inscription, also at Bible and Interpretation. My thoughts on how to deal with unprovenanced inscriptions are collected here and here and links.

Also, I have said earlier that I have not yet encountered a peer-review publication defending the authenticity of the Jehoash inscription on philological grounds. That still stands, but I should flag the following article mentioned in Dr Rosenfeld's piece (and noted earlier here):
Cohen, C. ( 2007). “Biblical Hebrew Philology in the light of research on the new Yeho’ash Royal Building Inscription’ in: New Seals and Inscriptions: Hebrew, Idumean, and Cuneiform, Ed. by Meir Lubetski (Hebrew Bible Monographs, 8), Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, pp. 222-284 [I have corrected the page numbering, which is cited incorrectly in the article - JRD]
Cohen is agnostic about the authenticity of the inscription, but he does not think it can be demonstrated philologically to be a modern forgery.