Israel's Antiquities Authority unanimously calls James Ossuary inscription a forgery
A committee of archaeological experts organized by Israel's Antiquities Authority has unanimously concluded that the inscription on the James Ossuary is a forgery.

The inscription on the bone burial box, which says "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus," "appears new, written in modernity by someone attempting to reproduce ancient written characters," the Antiquities Authority said in a statement. In addition, the archeologists said the stone of the box is more likely to have come from Cyprus or northern Syria than ancient Israel.

"The ossuary is real, but the inscription is fake," Shuka Dorfman, director of the Antiquities Authority, told Reuters after a Jerusalem press conference yesterday. "What this means is that somebody took a real box and forged the writing on it, probably to give it a religious significance."

Gideon Avni, one of the archaeologists, told CBS News that he believes "this forgery was done sometime in the last decades, maybe in the last years." (A recent Jerusalem Post review runs down other ossuary problems.)

Oded Golan, owner of the ossuary, stands by its authenticity. "I am certain the ossuary is real," he told the Associated Press. "I am certain the committee is wrong regarding its conclusions."

But Golan probably isn't the person to listen to on this issue. First of all, he's admittedly a collector and amateur, not an expert. Second, his dealings with the ossuary have been very secretive. Third, he has treated both the ossuary and another of his supposedly priceless artifacts, a small tablet corroborating the biblical account of Solomon's Temple, so shabbily that both items were significantly damaged. And fourth, according ...

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