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9/22/2017 12:11:25 AM
Posted: 6/18/2003 9:51:40 AM EDT
[url]http://www.cnn.com/2003/TECH/science/06/18/jesus.box/index.html[/url] [img]http://i.cnn.net/cnn/2003/TECH/science/06/18/jesus.box/story.ossuary.jpg[/img] JERUSALEM -- A stone box touted as the oldest archaeological evidence of Jesus is, in fact, a well-crafted fake, Israeli archaeological experts say. The box, an object known as an ossuary, was said to have contained the bones of Jesus' brother James. Carved on one side is an inscription in the ancient language of Aramaic bearing the legend: "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus." Officials with Israel's Antiques Authority announced Wednesday that while the box may date from the correct era, the inscription is a forgery added at a much later date. "The inscription appears new, written in modernity by someone attempting to reproduce ancient written characters," the officials said in the statement. They said that a panel of archeological experts had agreed unanimously with the findings. The box first came to public attention in October last year when French archaeologist Andre Lemaire identified and translated the inscription. Writing in the Biblical Archaeology Review last year Lemaire, an expert in ancient scripts, said it was "very probable" that the box belonged to Jesus' brother James. (Evidence of Jesus?) The inscription has caused great excitement among biblical scholars. However, after months of detailed examination of the box and the inscription the team of Israeli experts concluded that the finding was incorrect. "The ossuary is real. But the inscription is fake," the director of Israel's Antiquities Authority, Shuka Dorfman, told Reuters. "What this means is that somebody took a real box and forged the writing on it, probably to give it a religious significance," Dorfman added. The committee said another indication that the box was not all it was claimed to be was that the stone from which it was hewn was more likely to have originated in Cyprus or northern Syria than ancient Israel. However, Oded Golan, the Israeli owner of the "James ossuary," dismissed the findings. "I am certain the ossuary is real, I am certain that the committee is wrong regarding its conclusions," he said. Golan had earlier said he had problems with the committee and its methods of investigation saying they had "preconceived notions." He said he had bought the ossuary in the mid-1970s from a dealer in the Old City of Jerusalem for about $200, but he was unable to remember the dealer's name. Ossuaries were commonly used by Jewish families between 20 B.C. and A.D. 70 to store the bones of their loved ones While most scholars agree that Jesus existed, no physical evidence from the first century has ever been conclusively tied with his life.
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