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"Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." -Aldous Huxley

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wTuesday, June 24, 2003


PAUSE FOR LATTES: I seem to have a thing for children's books lately (the column on junk e-mail was "Green Eggs and Spam") but I am perversely proud of the title of the current column: "James and the Giant Reach."

It's about the controversy over the James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus ossuary. The question, Is it genuine? An excerpt:

Speculation turned into accusation last Wednesday, as the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced, but did not release, the "unanimous conclusion" of a report by a committee of 15 scholars: The ossuary was from the first century, but the inscription was a very well done fake. The forgery angle quickly metastasized into a fact in the popular press (and was broadcast by not a few religion bloggers), but has turned into something rather different among scholars of antiquity.

Shanks, who has always been a lightning rod figure in the field of archaeology, responded by questioning both the motives and the methodology of the IAA. In a rebuttal posted on the BAR website, he charged that the not-yet-released findings of the committee were really the findings of one man, Tel Aviv University's Yuval Goren, and that Goren had gone into his investigation with a strong bias against the inscription's authenticity. Further, Shanks charged that the director of the IAA, one Shuka Dorfman, had a motive to help push this conclusion on the rest of the committee. That is, Dorfman hates the antiquities market and has a personal grudge with Shanks, for speaking up for the hated collectors of ancient artifacts. [more]

posted by Jeremy at 11:58 PM