By now most people have heard of the ring of counterfeiters who were buying ancient artifacts in Israel and modifying them so that they represented Israelite or Christian history. They were captured because they took it a step too far with the ossuary that supposedly had the name of Jesus’s brother written on it. They did manage to get articles in Biblical Archaeological Review, and the Royal Ontario Museum brought the ossuary over to Toronto for an exhibit, but it was all downhill from there. The Israeli police has now charged 4 individuals and are investigating a broad range of sales over the years.
Here’s a list from AP of some of the pieces they forged.
They played on our collective history and desire to prove that history. They deserve to sit in prison for a very long time.
– The James ossuary, a burial box bearing the inscription “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.”
– The Yoash inscription, a tablet from about the 9th century B.C., inscribed with 15 lines of ancient Hebrew with instructions for maintaining the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. The tablet was offered for sale for $4.5 million.
– Shards of clay pots bearing inscriptions linking them to biblical sites and the biblical temples. Some of them sold to private collectors for up to $100,000 each.
-A stone menorah inscribed with depictions of plants and said to belong to the temple High Priest, offered to private collectors for $100,000.
-A gold and stone royal seal said to be that of Menashe, King of Judah, offered to a private collector for $1 million.
-A quartz bowl, bearing an inscription in an ancient Egyptian script, claiming that Egyptian forces destroyed the ancient town of Megiddo, a subject of intense academic debate.
-An ivory pomegranate thought to be that of the temple high priest. The Israel Museum bought the pomegranate from an anonymous collector for $550,000 in the 1980s, with the money deposited into a secret Swiss bank account.
-An ancient clay vase with an inscription said to be part of an offering at the temple.
-Numerous wax seals, said to belong to biblical figures. Some selling for $90,000.