After five years, the “forgery trial of the century” concluded in a Jerusalem courtroom and defendants Oded Golan and Robert Deutsch were acquitted of all major charges against them. In this collection of BAR articles, learn about the infamous James Ossuary and other alleged forgeries.


Burial Box of James the Brother of Jesus
Biblical Archaeology Review, November/December 2002 By André Lemaire

Amazing as it may sound, a limestone bone box (called an “ossuary”) has surfaced in Israel that may once have contained the bones of James, the brother of Jesus. We know this because an extraordinary inscription incised on one side of the ossuary reads in clear Aramaic letters: “James, son of Joseph, brother of […]

Brother of Jesus Ossuary
Biblical Archaeology Review, July/August 2003 By Edward J. Keall

“By accident most strange,” Shakespeare reminds us in The Tempest, can come “bountiful Fortune.” So, it might be argued, was the case with the tragic accident in which the now-famous ossuary (bone box) inscribed “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus” broke last fall on its way from Israel to Toronto for exhibit at […]

Summary Report of the Examining Committees for the James Ossuary and Yehoash Inscription
Biblical Archaeology Review, September/October 2003

20 June 2003 [released July 16, 2003] To: Shuka Dorfman, Director-General, Israel Antiquities Authority The Committees’ Establishment and Selection of Members

Final Blow to IAA Report
Biblical Archaeology Review, January/February 2004 By James A. Harrell

Sorbonne paleographer André Lemaire recently analyzed in these pages the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) report that declared the James ossuary inscription (“James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus”) to be a modern forgery.a Lemaire considered various aspects of the IAA report, such as paleography and orthography, and convincingly found the report deeply flawed. As […]

“Brother of Jesus” Inscription Is Authentic!
Biblical Archaeology Review, July/August 2012 By Hershel Shanks

In all the hubbub and flurry of the verdict last March in the “forgery case of the century,” one question—the central question—seems to have gotten lost: Is the ossuary inscription “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus” genuine or not? And if it is, does it refer to Jesus of Nazareth? After all, “Jesus” […]

Is It or Isn’t It?
Biblical Archaeology Review, March/April 2003 By Hershel Shanks

Mystery, politics, Biblical implications, gold—a newly surfaced inscription purporting to be by King Jehoash has it all. And it may be a forgery! If authentic, it would be the first royal inscription ever found of an Israelite king. If authentic, it may provide evidence for Israel’s claim to the Temple Mount. If a forgery, […]

Don’t Rush to Judgment
Biblical Archaeology Review, March/April 2004 By David Noel Freedman

BAR’s reports on the so-called Jehoash inscription—which describes repairs to the Solomonic Temple by King Jehoash in the ninth century B.C.E.—are unhesitatingly condemnatory: It is a fake. A piece by the BAR editor on the 15-line inscription is headed “Demonstrably a Forgery.”a My long-time friend Frank Cross (we wrote two joint doctoral dissertations […]

Probable Head of Priestly Scepter from Solomon’s Temple Surfaces in Jerusalem
Biblical Archaeology Review, January/February 1984 By André Lemaire

BAR recently published a fascinating article by Gabriel Barkay reporting on his excavation of a small rolled silver amulet, dating from the seventh or sixth century B.C. When the amulet was unrolled, it was found to contain the tetragrammaton—the four Hebrew letters yod, he, waw, he that form the unpronounceable name of God, sometimes […]


New Study Supports Authenticity of Yehoash Inscription
Biblical Archaeology Review, May/June 2009

BAR has defended the authenticity of the James Ossuary inscription (“James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus”)a and the Ivory Pomegranate inscription (“(Belonging) to the Temple of [Yahwe]h; holy to the priests”).b But we have taken no position regarding the Yehoash (or Jehoash) inscription, a lengthier text on a black stone plaque that records […]

Forgery Case Collapses
Biblical Archaeology Review, January/February 2009

On October 29, 2008, the San Francisco Chronicle headlined a story by Matthew Kalman, datelined Jerusalem, “Case Involving Jesus’ Brother Burial Box Hoax on Verge of Collapse.”

Forgery Trial Now in Hands of Judge
Biblical Archaeology Review, January/February 2011

Closing arguments in the Jerusalem trial to determine whether or not the James Ossuary, the Yehoash tablet and other ancient artifacts were forged by two defendants finally wrapped up in October. After five years of proceedings, all that remains is for trial judge Aharon Farkash to pore through the evidence and deliver his verdict.

Defendants Acquitted in Forgery Trial
Biblical Archaeology Review, May/June 2012 By Suzanne F. Singer

Jonathan Pulik and I, reporting for BAR, were among the first to arrive in the tiny courtroom in the large courthouse on Salah e-Din Street in East Jerusalem. By the time the wheelchair-bound judge, Aharon Farkash, entered at about 9:10, the place was packed, however. Standing room only.

Forgery Hysteria Grips Israel
Biblical Archaeology Review, September/October 2005

Forgery Hysteria Grips Israel

Forgery Trial
Biblical Archaeology Review, March/April 2005

The Indictment