Posts Tagged ‘James Ossuary’

The Kalman Interview at the Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem.



Read Full Post »


The stone burial box bearing the inscription “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.”

A modest limestone casket could be the first object ever found from the  family of Jesus Christ.

The stone burial box bearing the inscription “James, son of Joseph, brother  of Jesus” has been hidden from public view at the Israel Antiquities Authority  since 2003.

Tel Aviv antiquities collector Oded Golan retrieved the burial box from the Israel Antiquities Authority.

But now it has been released to be displayed around the world, following a  10-year legal battle in which Israeli authorities failed to show that Tel Aviv  collector Oded Golan faked the ancient Aramaic lettering on the box.

Golan bought the box for a pittance in the 1970s from an East Jerusalem  antiquities dealer and had it for more than 25 years before Sorbonne professor  Andre Lemaire pointed out the staggering significance of the letters scratched  in the side.

Close-up of the Aramaic inscription 'James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus' engraved on the side of the stone burial box

Close-up of the Aramaic inscription ‘James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus’ engraved on the side of the stone burial box.

“I never knew that Jesus had a brother,” said Golan.

The box is just 20 inches long and one foot wide, carved from a single piece  of reddish limestone with a flat lid — typical of the burial boxes used by the  Jews of first-century Palestine.

Close-up of the word ‘Jesus’ in the Aramaic inscription engraved on the side of the stone burial box. If authentic, it is the earliest known example of the name of Jesus

It was last displayed in Toronto in 2002, causing a worldwide sensation. But  the celebrations were short-lived.

The Israeli Antiquities Authority seized the ossuary, and its experts said  the words “brother of Jesus” had been added to the original inscription. Golan  was arrested in 2003 and put on trial.

Tel Aviv antiquities collector Oded  Golan retrieving the burial box with the inscription ‘James, son of Joseph,  brother of Jesus’ from the Israel Antiquities Authority. The IAA seized and held  the box throughout a ten-year investigation and trial. Golan was acquitted in  2012.

In March 2012, Golan was acquitted of forgery, but some experts still  maintain the box is a fake. Golan and other experts are convinced it is the real thing.

In an exclusive interview Golan said it is time for people to hear the whole  story.”The inscription is ancient for sure. We proved that at the trial,” he said.  “It’s time to have this debate in a public exhibition, and let people decide for  themselves.”

In their zeal to prove their allegations, the Israeli authorities may have  wrecked the chances of conclusive scientific tests.

“It’s not in the same condition as before the trial. The inscription was  defaced, contaminated,” Golan said. “I have to evaluate the damage, see if it  can be restored and if there is the possibility of carrying out further tests on  the inscription in future that will allow us to show its authenticity.”

Golan says he won’t be parting with it again – no matter how much he is  offered. “In the long term it will remain in Israel,” he vowed.

The whole piece with more photos here.


Read Full Post »

The Jerusalem Post:

A Jerusalem judge will announce on Wednesday whether he has decided to order the destruction of a burial box that could have held the bones of the brother of Jesus and an inscribed tablet that could have come from the First Temple.

At a Jerusalem District Court hearing in April, Judge Aharon Farkash said he might exercise “the judgement of Solomon” and order both items to be destroyed.

The stone burial box, or ossuary, dates to the first century CE and has an Aramaic inscription that reads “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.” The black tablet is inscribed with a passage recording repairs by King Jehoash around 800 BCE. Its surface is spattered with sub-microscopic globules of gold that suggest it might have survived a fire in which golden items melted into tiny airborne particles.

If genuine, the items are the only artifacts yet recovered that can be linked directly to the family of Jesus and the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem and could be of considerable historical significance.

Last March, at the end of a trial lasting nearly seven years, a Tel Aviv collector was acquitted of faking the two artifacts and other antiquities by Judge Farkash, vice president of the Jerusalem District Court.

But Judge Farkash reserved judgment on whether the ossuary or the stone tablet were authentic because of disagreements between the world’s leading experts.

On Wednesday, Judge Farkash will pass sentence on the defendant, Oded Golan, who was acquitted on 41 charges of forgery, fraud and other serious crimes, but found guilty of three minor misdemeanors of trading in antiquities without a license and handling goods suspected of being stolen.

At a hearing in April, the prosecution demanded a tough sentence including jail time and said that the ossuary, the tablet and many other items should be confiscated by the court, even though Golan had been acquitted of all charges related to them.

“Maybe I’ll order them to be destroyed and neither side will have them,” said Judge Farkash in comments that were not recorded in the official court transcript.

It would be “the judgement of Solomon,” said Judge Farkash.

“Neither of you will have the ossuary or the Jehoash tablet. They broke once already, they can be broken again. Just destroy them,” he said.

The ossuary cracked into two pieces 2002 while it was being shipped to an exhibition in Canada and was repaired by restorers at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. The Jehoash tablet broke along an existing crack in 2003 while it was being handled by investigators at the Israel Police forensic laboratory.

The judge also suggested that the items might be put on display for the public.

“Maybe they should be exhibited at the Israel Museum as items from this trial suspected of being fakes,” he said.

Experts who gave evidence for both sides last night urged Judge Farkash not to destroy the items.

Andre Lemaire, the Sorbonne scholar who published the first analysis of the ossuary in 2002 and has stood by its authenticity, said its destruction would be “scandalous” and “a manipulation of historical evidence.”

“It would be necessary from a scientific point of view to start a new suit, on a real basis this time, for voluntary destruction of historical evidence and tentative manipulation of history,” Professor Lemaire told The Jerusalem Post.

Christopher Rollston, professor of Old Testament and Semitic Languages at Emmanuel Christian Seminary who appeared as a prosecution witness, said “it is never prudent to destroy antiquities, regardless of the controversy surrounding them.”

“I would certainly not wish to see the Ya’akov (“James”) Ossuary destroyed. Indeed, to destroy the ossuary would only fuel the controversy, effectively turning this ossuary into an archaeological martyr of sorts. I wish to see it returned to its legal owner,” he said.

Prosecution witness Israel Finkelstein, professor of archaeology at Tel Aviv University, agreed that the ossuary should not be destroyed, but said it should not be returned to Golan. “The Israel Antiquities Authority has a place for alleged forgeries in their storehouses – why not put this item there too for posterity?” Finkelstein suggested.

Defence counsel Lior Bringer said the items should be returned immediately to Golan, who said he has not yet decided what to do with them.

“The prosecution is asking the court to punish the defendant for crimes for which he was acquitted,” said Bringer. “Golan admitted to the three minor charges he was convicted of in the first police interview. On these charges there was no need for a trial at all.”

“He spent more than two years under house arrest and was in prison twice. He has suffered enough,” said Bringer.


Read Full Post »