Israeli police arrest owner of the James ossuary and Joash tablet
After a six-month investigation, Israeli police on Monday arrested antiques collector Oded Golan on charges of fraud, forgery, using forged documents, and perverting the course of justice. In recent days, investigators searched Golan's home and storerooms, including a workroom on his roof where they say he forged antiquities. "A number of other 'antiques' in various stages of production were uncovered," reports the Tel Aviv newspaper Ha'aretz.
Also on Golan's Tel Aviv roof, "without any security or protection from the elements," was Golan's most famous possession—an ossuary that apparently once held the bones of "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus."
Is this treatment of the ossuary another indication that the ossuary is a fraud, or that Golan is merely careless? After all, when he shipped the ossuary for display and testing at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, he packed it so poorly that it cracked—right in the middle of the inscription.
Now even the ROM's Ed Keall, who has been one of the main scholars saying the ossuary is authentic, says Golan might have intentionally damaged the bone box to make testing harder. "I'm afraid at this stage I can't discount anything," he told The Ottawa Citizen. "The story's so bizarre."
Keall said Golan, who was remanded for four days while police continue their investigation, seemed trustworthy: "He really came across as a very innocent, almost gullible person. Aside from all our investigation, scientific analysis…this guy seemed to be a very genuine item. He didn't come off as a fast car salesman who was trying to deceive you. That's why it is all the more puzzling to have this notification that the police arrested him." ...1