Oded Golan Speaks Out on Forgery Trial Verdict

Asserts purchasers of looted antiquities preserve valuable information

Oded Golan

After being acquitted of all forgery charges, Oded Golan responded by noting the important role that licensed collectors play by keeping artifacts documented and in Israel.

Oded Golan, chief defendant in the so-called “forgery case of the century,” was acquitted of all forgery charges Wednesday, more specifically of forging an inscription reading “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus” written on a first-century C.E. bone box (or ossuary). “The hot-air balloon released by the IAA [Israel Antiquities Authority],” he told Biblical Archaeology Review in an exclusive telephone interview, “has finally popped.”

An industrial and management engineer, Golan has been a collector of antiquities from the Land of Israel for decades. His collection includes thousands of artifacts and constitutes one of the largest and most important private collections in Israel.

“I never considered my collection as a source of profit or income,” he says. “Out of my love for the field, I took steps to save thousands of artifacts discovered in Judea and Samaria [West Bank].” This, he says, was the center of Israel and Judah in the Biblical period. “Without my actions, these artifacts would have been removed from the country and disappeared.” He claims that more than a million antiquities from the West Bank have indeed disappeared from the country in this way.

Some authorities contend that buying unprovenanced antiquities on the market encourages looting. Others say that once they are looted, we must learn what we can from them. Golan is among the latter. So are some leading scholars. There is a lot to learn from them, he says.

Read a FREE ebook documenting the forgery trial from the first publications discussing the contested artifacts to up-to-date verdict analyses.

Posted in Artifacts and the Bible, Biblical Archaeology Topics.

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  • Michael says

    Dear Ron, Hi!!! Yes, these objects are authentic. Dr. Amnon Rosenfeld and other scholars have found ancient patina on the inscriptions of the James Ossuary, the Jehoash Tablet, and the Ivory Pomegranate. World class epigraphers like Dr. Andre Lemaire and Dr. Frank Moore Cross have stated that the James Ossuary Inscription was done in one hand. Unprovenanced inscribed artifacts make up most of our corpus. The Amarna Tablets and Elephantine Papyri were purchased on the antiquities market. The Dead Sea Scrolls were purchased on the antiquities market as well. Dr. Cross raised money and flew to Israel and he and Dr. Lapp purchased the Samaria Papyri. The late Professor Hanan Eshel purchased and published three Dead Sea Scroll fragments. The late professor Joseph Naveh, along with Dr. Lemaire, Dr. Porten, and Dr. Yardeni published, the recently found on the antiquities market, Aramaic Ostraca from Idumaea. Currently Dr. Cornelia Wunsch is publishing the Babylonia Cuneiform Tablets which give insights into the Babylonian Judaeans. Professor Yuval Goren has authenticated two clay bullae of King Hezekiah from the Israeli Antiquities Market, thus confirming the authenticity of two of the bullae published by Dr. Robert Deutsch in his “Lasting Impressions” article in Biblical Archaeology Review. The norm has been, at least since 1847, for scholars to purchase and publish unprovenanced inscribed artifacts. With Much Gratitude, Michael Welch, Deltona, Florida

  • Ron says

    So does this mean that the artifacts are real, or just that these men didn’t commit the forgery..and others may have?

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