Antiquities Dealers Indicted

By Eric J. Greenberg

Published December 31, 2004, issue of December 31, 2004.
  • Print
  • Share Share

In one of the most stunning developments in the history of biblical archaeology, Israeli authorities this week indicted four antiquities dealers for allegedly operating a forgery ring that involves some of the most significant biblical artifacts ever discovered.

The forged treasures include an ivory pomegranate believed to be the only relic from Solomon’s Temple, a stone tablet with directions on how to renovate the temple and the ossuary, or burial bone box, of James, Jesus’ brother.

“This has opened up the need for a whole re-evaluation of virtually all the major discoveries of the last 25 years in the land of Israel,” Lawrence Schiffman, chairman of New York University’s Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies, told the Forward on Wednesday.

The forgery ring took genuine artifacts and added inscriptions to them, falsely increasing their importance and greatly inflating their value, according to a 27-page indictment submitted by police to the Jerusalem Magistrates Court.

The operation was so sophisticated it fooled top antiquities experts, and some of the fake artifacts sold for huge sums, authorities said.

The indictment stated: “These items, many of them of great scientific, religious, sentimental, political and economic value, were created specifically with intent to defraud.”

Police charged collector Oded Golan, and three antiquities dealers — Robert Deutsch, Shlomo Cohen and Faiz al-Amaleh — with 17 counts of forgery, receiving fraudulent goods and damaging antiquities.

Golan, who generated worldwide headlines last year with claims about the James ossuary, denied the accusations, calling it a campaign of lies and rumors spread by Israel’s archaeological authorities to destroy the local antiquities trade.

Schiffman, an expert on the Dead Sea Scrolls, said that some of the most important discoveries might have been forged, especially those that relate to biblical names and events

“The most exciting things are the things most likely to be forged,” he said.






Find us on Facebook!
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • The real heroines of Passover prep aren't even Jewish. But the holiday couldn't happen without them.
  • Is Handel’s ‘Messiah’ an anti-Semitic screed?
  • Meet the Master of the Matzo Ball.
  • Pierre Dulaine wants to do in his hometown of Jaffa what he did for kids in Manhattan: teach them to dance.
  • "The first time I met Mick Jagger, I said, 'Those are the tackiest shoes I’ve ever seen.'” Jewish music journalist Lisa Robinson remembers the glory days of rock in her new book, "There Goes Gravity."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.