Friday, October 24, 2003

More on SBL Ossuary session

There's a bit more detail on the SBL session on the Ossuary in the editorial of the current Bible Archaeology Review:

First Person: Gearing up for the Conference Season
Excerpt: "BAS has organized a panel at the SBL meeting on the James ossuary inscription (“James, the son of Joseph, the brother of Jesus”) and the Jehoash inscription, featuring scholars Andr√© Lemaire of the Sorbonne, Kyle McCarter of Johns Hopkins University, Chaim Cohen of Ben-Gurion University and Ed Greenstein from Tel Aviv University (for details on this session, see “The Debate Continues’). Less well-known to the community of Bible scholars are two scientists who will discuss the report of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) committee that declared both of these inscriptions to be forgeries. These independent scientists are Richard Newman of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, a leader of the museum conservation community; and James Harrell, an officer of ASMOSIA (Association for the Study of Marble and Other Stones in Antiquity) and a professor of Geology at the University of Toledo. The final speaker will be the owner of the ossuary—and alleged forger—Oded Golan.

Unfortunately, several people connected with the IAA or the IAA committee declined to join the panel. Professor Yuval Goren, who provided the scientific analysis to the committee, declined our invitation even though he will be in Atlanta at the time. Amir Ganor, the IAA’s chief fraud investigator, is also going to be in Atlanta at the time. Ganor was willing to appear on the panel, but Shuka Dorfman, the director of the IAA, refused to allow this.

Uzi Dahari, the IAA deputy director and chairman of the IAA committee that pronounced the inscriptions to be forgeries, has told several people that the forging of the inscriptions involved a conspiracy of several people, including an “honored Israeli archaeologist.” Unfortunately, Dr. Dahari also declined our invitation to join the panel. So has Dr. Avner Ayalon, the Israel Geological Survey scientist who performed the isotope experiments showing that the coating (patina) on the inscriptions could not have been formed in a natural way by resting in a cave for 2,000 years.

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