Saturday, January 01, 2005

A List of Suspected Forgeries

At the risk of turning this blog into a Forgery Watch, I will mention this item before taking a breather, I hope, from forgery news. Joseph Lauer (via an email from Jim West) mentions a list of some of the forged objects in the Hebrew edition of Haaretz. The list is as follows:

1. The James Ossuary
2. The Mattanyahu Decanter (see below)
3. The Ivory Pomegranate
4. Stone Menorah
5. Seal of the King Manasseh
6. Baruch son of Neriah bulla
7. The Yehoash Tablet
8. The Widow's Plea Ostracon
9. The 3 Shekel Ostracon [the latter two also known as the Moussaieff Ostraca]

I'll try to blog about some of these items in the days to come. The decanter, which is featured in some of the press conference pictures, is described in an article by Hershel Shanks, "Is Oded Golan a Forger?" from the Sept./Oct. 2003 issue of BAR (also found here, scroll down).
On paleographic grounds, the inscription is dated to sometime before 600 B.C.E. The decanter, about 7.5 inches tall, is very well preserved and its inscription is easily read. The only decoration is three concentric circles around the neck of the vessel. The decanter apparently holds a quarter of a certain measure; just which measure, scholars do not know. Mattanyahu, a common name meaning “gift of Yahweh,” may have been a Temple priest.

Apparently, the IAA thinks the decanter, too, may be a modern forgery. It was reportedly sold to Moussaieff by Golan. It was published in Forty New Ancient West Semitic Inscriptions, by Robert Deutsch, an antiquities dealer who has been closely involved with Golan and Moussaieff (he is editing a festschrift for Moussaieff) and by Deutsch’s Ph.D. adviser, Professor Michael Heltzer of Haifa University.
Here is a picture of the decanter:


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