Wednesday, January 19, 2005

More from the Forgery Indictment

The following is a translated excerpt from the introduction to the official indictments for forgery of antiquities of Oded Golan, Robert Deutsch, and three others:
During the last 20 years, there have been sold or offered for sale in Israel and throughout the world many archeological items that seem to be antiquities. These "antiquities," many of which have great scientific, religious, emotional, political, and economic importance, were created initially for fraudulent purposes. The forgery of these antiquities, some of which have been widely published in the scientific literature, has caused, in addition to the monetary damage, a distortion of historical and archaeological research.

The typical method of the forgery was as follows: In most of the cases, original antiquities were used, and to them were added inscriptions or decorations, which greatly added to their value. These forgeries were carried out on the following antiquities, [list of items follows, which has been given previously in this weblog].

After most of the items described above had been forged, as well as others, the items were coated with a falsified patina (patina: coating formed naturally on an antiquity over the course of years). This patina was created with great expertise, until many experts were fooled into thinking that the antiquities described above were indeed authentic. Among the experts who were deceived in this matter were even experts from the Geological Institute in Jerusalem, and experts in laboratories and museums in Israel and throughout the world.

After completing the process of forgery, the antiquities were given to experts, either to verify that the forgery had indeed succeeded sufficiently to attempt a sale of the item or to obtain opinions concerning the authenticity or importance of the items. After the opinions had been obtained, attempts were made to sell the items or to publicize them worldwide in order to increase their worth for a future sale.

In addition, affidavits and other documents were falsified witnessing, as it were, to the ownership of the antiquities and to the circumstances of their discovery. This false documentation was intended to increase the chance of success of the fraud, and also to circumvent the laws preventing a private person from selling artifacts discovered or excavated after 1978.
The specific indictments follow, case by case. The document does not indicate what evidence will be brought in support, and I suppose (I'm no lawyer) that this is normal for an indictment.

Note: the ivory pomegranate was mentioned in the introductory material (in a portion that I did not render above), but is not mentioned in the detailed indictments that follow. This is confusing, but I take it to mean that that the pomegranate was used as an example only; in any case none of the accused are named as being involved in the forgery of the pomegranate. I still think that the pomegranate was the paradigm case that may have inspired this activity. But we'll have to wait for the trial, I imagine, for more details.

(I was going to list the scholars named as expert witnesses in the indictment, but I decided not to. Anyone who can read the indictment can see the list. Any other mention, I fear, would just amount to gossip, and might bring attention to those who would prefer to keep quiet about it until they are called on.)

For the Hebrew text of the indictment, see the link provided in the previous post.

1 comment:

Yuval Goren said...

Ed, the indictment is not supposed to include the evidence material. This will be presented later, in court. Like you, I understand that the pomegranate was not included in the body of the indictment but only in the introduction as an illustration for the other (later) cases, but this does not necessarily mean that none of the accused had any relevance to it. Since the forgery of the pomegranate was completed more than 20 years ago and nobody ever complained about it (legally), it may be problematic to include it now in the charges. But from looking at the very long list of witnesses, it is evident that the state attorney is not planning to put the emphasis on scientific opinions about, say, the authenticity of the inscription on the James ossuary or the Jerusalem lamp, but to bring to court witnesses who know about these forgeries from other sources of information. By the way, from reading the indictment I got the impression that besides forgery and fraud, other issues will be raised such as income tax and insurance felonies.