Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Sensational claims about new inscription discoveries

I'M SKEPTICAL TOO: Bible scholar’s sensational Hezekiah inscription claims prompt researchers’ outcry. Academics publish open letter calling for scientific treatment of ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ claims after new round of unsupported popular press headlines regarding Jerusalem ‘discovery’ (Amanda Borschel-Dan, Times of Israel).
[Prof. Emeritus Gershon] Galil’s most recent announcement, first published in a television report 12 days ago, says he has successfully deciphered five new royal inscriptions of King Hezekiah of Judah, including hundreds of letters and dozens of lines of text. According to Galil, the inscriptions he found alongside archaeologist Eli Shukron are etched into the walls of the City of David’s Hezekiah Tunnel in Jerusalem.

Galil’s announcement has brought a flurry of media headlines in some publications — and a deafening silence in others that generally cover Israeli archaeological finds. (The Times of Israel, which has covered some of Galil’s findings in the past, did not report on his latest Hezekiah inscription claims, among other of his recent claims, because they were not peer-reviewed and lacked accompanying scientific documentation.)

I saw this announcement on Facebook and elsewhere when it came out. Like most others, I decided not to comment on it in the absence of good photographs or peer-reviewed scholarly studies.

I refer you to my longstanding Lottery Rule. If a reported new discovery is the scholarly equivalent of our having won the lottery, we should be skeptical of it unless and until we have strong evidence that it is real.

So far, such evidence for these claims has not been produced. Should more be advanced, the scholarly world will certainly consider it.

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