As we go to press, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) has released its long-awaited final report. What has become clear is that there is no final report—no document subscribed to by all committee members explaining the decision that both the James ossuary inscription and the Jehoash inscription are modern forgeries. Instead, the “final report” consists only of individual statements by committee members commenting on the inscriptions from the viewpoint of their expertise.
More significantly, this final report, such as it is, allays none of the doubts about the study expressed in these pages, nor answers any of the questions we have raised. They all remain.
The two most important statements—by the key geological scientists on the Materials Committee, Dr. Avner Ayalon and Prof. Yuval Goren—are inadequate summaries that deny other scientists the basic data needed to independently review their results. Both Ayalon and Goren admit this. Dr. Ayalon states: “I emphasize herein that the purpose of this summary is to relate general details, results, examinations and conclusions. This document does not constitute a scientific article or report [italics supplied]. In time, the results will be published in the usual scientific format in a professional publication.”
Prof. Goren states: “The following detailed summary is not a scientific article, and therefore the formal style of scientific papers was not used here. The purpose of this document is to give details of general results and conclusions reached, and is slated for future publication in the usual scientific format” [italics supplied].
In the next issue of BAR, we will comment more extensively on this “final report.” In the meantime, check our website (www.biblicalarchaeology.org), for updates.