Update on the James Ossuary Fraud Trial

In an earlier post I provided an update as to the happenings of the fraud trial concerning the James Ossuary and other purported ancient relics. The information coming out of Israel is limited, but there is finally a new story from the Boston Globe about the trial. Jim West also has some information on the trial.

Here is what I have been able to discern.

As I wrote in the last post, one of the defendants had pleaded guilty. It appears that another defendant, Shlomo Cohen, has also pleaded guilty. One of the defendants who pleaded guilty was scheduled to testify on behalf of the prosecution last week but the appearance was delayed due to "new evidence" being raised. It is unclear how this testimony may reflect on the James Ossuary, however, because it appears that only one defendant, Oded Golan, is accused of committing fraud with the James Ossuary.

The first four days of testimony centered around renowned and wealthy collector Shlomo Moussaieff, who testified about the wheeling and dealing surrounding he had witnessed as a player in the antiquities market. But he insisted that all of the pieces he had bought from the defendants were authentic and that he believed that the James Ossuary is authentic. Prosecutors will no doubt point out that such opinion would be consistent with someone who wanted to protect their investments.

Much scientific evidence is anticipated, with the Court having to sort through it all. The Israel Antiquities Authorities' evaluation will no doubt take center stage for the prosecution, but experts are lining up against the IAA's conclusions, including "geologists, epigraphers and archeologists." Additionally, Mr. Golan will be calling world-renowned geologist Dr. Wolfgang Krumbein who has concluded that there is "no indisputable evidence confirming the claim that any or all of the items had been produced in the last several decades."

Prosecutors think this is only the "tip of the iceberg" and that there are many other purported artifacts that are in fact frauds.

Update: Regarding the new expert, Ben Witherington -- a steadfast defender of the James Ossuary's authenticity -- has provided a summary of Dr. Krumbein's report. There are direct refutations and criticisms leveled at the analysis performed by the IAA. One of the central issues was the patina in the inscription compared to the patina on the rest of the ossuary. The IAA found that the patina in the inscription was different than that on the rest of the ossuary, which they determined was authentic. Dr. Krumbein, however, has determined that the patina is the same as that on the rest of the ossuary. The bottom line is that Dr. Krumbein's report supports the James Ossuary's authenticity. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the trial.


kamagra said…
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