Israel Antiquities Authority vs. Conspiracy of (Alleged) Forgers
Statement of Jack Kilmon, independent researcher, as edited with the author’s permission from a posting on the blog of Jim West:
The forgery case will be dropped.
Yuval Goren is the IAA expert materials analyst. It was his testimony early on that a patina could be faked by grinding up some limestone, making a wash and brushing it on and then baking it on. I, at the time, discussed it with him because I could not see how a simple plaster-like wash could duplicate the centuries of gradually layered deposition of minerals and mineral salts that forms an ancient patina. Now the IAA wanted this box (the James ossuary) to be a forgery no matter what, for its agenda to do away with antiquities dealers. It was this “fake patina” that formed the basis of the trial of the accused forger. There was never a dispute that it was an ancient ossuary. The inscription incised on the box is “Yaqub bar Yahosef achuyi d’Yeshua” (“James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus”). One of the experts claimed it was not good Aramaic for “achuyi” (brother). There was no dispute that “Yaqub bar Yahosef” was ancient. I disputed that and told them that “achuyi d’Yeshua” was good Judean Aramaic. There was an example in the collection of ossuaries at the IAA warehouse (I had been there and had studied them). The end result is that the ossuary was genuine and the first part of the inscription was genuine. The entire forgery case revolved around the last part of the inscription, “achuyi d’Yeshua,” which syntactically is “brother (of him) of Yeshua.” The question was whether this was forged, and a fake “shake and bake” patina placed over it. I have some competence as a paleographer and contended the entire inscription was incised by one scribe. In 2002, I claimed that IF there was ancient patina in the second part of the inscription (achuyi d’Yeshua), the entire ossuary and all of the inscription was genuine. I was severely criticized by some “pro-forgery” scholars. I have stuck to my guns. For the last 6 years I have claimed the ossuary inscription is genuine. In the trial Yuval Goren admitted that microscopic analysis confirms ancient patina in “Yeshua.” That shattered the forgery claim and the entire case. On that basis, the judge has advised the IAA to drop the forgery case. The James ossuary inscription is genuine.
This entire trial was a hack job fostered by the IAA to indict a PROCESS (the antiquity market) by indicting some people, guilty or not. That ain’t the way it’s done. The question that will remain is how an organization (the IAA) with no legal authority influenced the Israeli justice system to go forward with this trial. Obviously it was the result of influence and cronyism between the head of the IAA and someone in the Israeli justice system’s prosecutorial department. Someone’s head should roll.
San Antonio, TX
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