Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Will Hershel Replace Dan Rather?

I imagine everyone has heard about the action of CBS News took yesterday, firing 4 of its employees because of their role in rushing forged documents on the air during the 2004 Presidential campaign. It's nice to see someone held accountable for poor reporting and low journalistic standards.

Speaking of Hershel Shanks, has anyone heard from him yet? While we're waiting to hear from Hershel concerning the cascade of possible forged antiquities that first reached the public eye through Biblical Archaeology Review, here's a couple quotes from the New York Times concerning CBS's actions yesterday. See if you can tell which one could also apply to Hershel Shanks:
"It appears to the panel that a crash to air the story was under way without effective consideration of the chain of custody" of the memorandums, Mr. Boccardi and Mr. Thornburgh wrote.

"These problems were caused primarily by a myopic zeal to be the first news organization to broadcast what was believed to be a new story ..., and the rigid and blind defense of the segment after it aired despite numerous indications of its shortcomings."
Why, that's right! Both of them could conceivably apply to Hershel Shanks and BAR!

Hey, I'm just kidding. We all know that Shanks is not a real journalist, and therefore can't be held accountable to journalistic standards.

Speaking of accountability, why won't museums offer even the barest of apologies for charging admission to see possibly forged antiquities? From MacLeans, we hear that one museum displayed the ivory pomegranate despite being warned that it was a possible fake:
The Canadian Museum of Civilization went ahead with displaying it as a highlight of the biblical archaeology show from late 2003 to the spring of 2004. Then, just before Christmas, the Israel Museum made world headlines by announcing it had determined that the inscription on the thumb-sized carving is a recent addition -- just as [Frank Moore] Cross had suspected. The object itself is now dated to the 13th or 14th century BCE, far older than Solomon's time, around the 8th century BCE. Israeli police have charged four antiquities collectors with altering artifacts so they appear to be connected to Bible stories, a linkage that makes them much more valuable. Other fakes could come to light as a result of the investigation. Still, Victor Rabinovitch, president of the Canadian Museum of Civilization, has defended the federal institution's handling of the exhibition, claiming no one suspected the pomegranate was fake at the time it hosted the show.
That last sentence is untrue; MacLeans ran a story on Cross's suspicions in October of 2003. All the museum now has to say is, "I'm sorry, we weren't careful enough. From now on, we're going to really pay attention to experts and avoid questionable artifacts, especially when we're taking money from people who think they're seeing a bit of biblical history." But, for some reason, they won't say it.

By the way, there is some confusion in the story from MacLean's. The inscription on the pomegranate was thought to be from the 8th century BCE and to refer to Solomon's temple — but Solomon himself, assuming he existed, belongs to the 10th century BCE.

UPDATE: Jim West chimes in with a "Hear, hear!" Danny Zacharias assumes, correctly, that I now think the James Ossuary is a forgery. I base this on the testimony of experts in fields in which I am not competent (e.g. chemists and geologists), as well as the highly suspicious circumstances of its coming to light, the unsatisfactory answers given by Oded Golan concerning its acquisition, and the involvement of Golan in the acquisition and sale of other antiquities that are arguably forgeries. As far as the Ossuary goes, my "expert" knowledge is limited to its language, and its language does not disqualify it or authenticate it (see my online article linked to the right). In this respect, it is different from the Jehoash tablet, the language of which points (IMHO) clearly to forgery.

UPDATE: I deleted an Anonymous comment added to this page because I considered it to be possibly libelous. If the commenter will re-write his comment, e-mail it to me, and allow me to remove libelous accusations, I will consider reposting it in the future.