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Oded Golan

Oded Golan is a controversial figure, an Israeli engineer, a former army officer in the Israel Defence Force, and a Biblical antiquities dealer.

Golan is the collector behind such artifacts as the Jehoash Inscription, a tablet describing repairs to the Temple of Solomon in the reign of King Jehoash and, in 2002, the infamous James Ossuary. If the James ossuary is to be declared authentic in its inscription, “James, Son of Joseph, brother of Jesus,” it will be the first archaeological evidence of the historical Jesus.

The problem is, at this time, Oded Golan is being tried on charges of fraud and forgery in Israel. On December 29, 2004, Golan was indicted in an Israeli court along with three other men: Robert Deutsch, an inscriptions expert who teaches at Haifa University; collector Shlomo Cohen; and antiquities dealer Faiz al-Amaleh. Golan denies the charges against him involving several artifacts including the James Ossuary.

The James Ossuary made international headlines in 2002 when its existence was broadcast at a Discovery Channel press conference held in Washington, DC. By then, it had been authenticated by Andre Lemaire, the great epigrapher from the Sorbonne, Hershel Shanks of Biblical Archaeology Review, and Drs. Shimon Ilani and Amnon Rosenfeld of the Israel Geological Society, who examined the patina.

Thousands of the curious and faithful streamed in to peer in awe at the ossuary when it was exhibited at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. The exhibition followed the repair of the ossuary, as it had been cracked in transit from Israel, right through the inscription.

Taken by surprise, since Oded Golan had not indicated the nature of the package he was sending halfway across the world—the Israeli government recalled the ossuary to Israel, confiscated it from Oded Golan, and, by way of the Israel Antiquities Authority, announced that it was nothing but a fake.

The outcome of Oded Golan’s trial is yet to be seen.


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