Oded Golan
Oded Golan (b. 1951 in Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv , officially Tel Aviv-Yafo , is the second most populous city in Israel, with a population of 404,400 on a land area of . The city is located on the Israeli Mediterranean coastline in west-central Israel. It is the largest and most populous city in the metropolitan area of Gush Dan, with...

) is an Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i engineer
An engineer is a professional practitioner of engineering, concerned with applying scientific knowledge, mathematics and ingenuity to develop solutions for technical problems. Engineers design materials, structures, machines and systems while considering the limitations imposed by practicality,...

, Israeli artifact collector, and currently on trial for forgery
Forgery is the process of making, adapting, or imitating objects, statistics, or documents with the intent to deceive. Copies, studio replicas, and reproductions are not considered forgeries, though they may later become forgeries through knowing and willful misrepresentations. Forging money or...

 of antiquities
Antiquities, nearly always used in the plural in this sense, is a term for objects from Antiquity, especially the civilizations of the Mediterranean: the Classical antiquity of Greece and Rome, Ancient Egypt and the other Ancient Near Eastern cultures...

. Some of the artifacts he has uncovered have produced great excitement in religious and archaeological
Archaeology, or archeology , is the study of human society, primarily through the recovery and analysis of the material culture and environmental data that they have left behind, which includes artifacts, architecture, biofacts and cultural landscapes...

 circles, and have caused allegations of fraud
In criminal law, a fraud is an intentional deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual; the related adjective is fraudulent. The specific legal definition varies by legal jurisdiction. Fraud is a crime, and also a civil law violation...

 and forgery. He was accused of faking the James Ossuary
James Ossuary
The James Ossuary is a 2,000-year old chalk box that was used for containing the bones of the dead. The Aramaic inscription: Ya'akov bar-Yosef akhui diYeshua is cut into one side of the box...

 and other items in order to trap gullible collectors. In December 2004, he was indicted with four other defendants and accused of being at the center of an international antiquities forgery ring.


The son of an engineer and a microbiologist, Golan served in the Israel Defence Force before studying engineering at Technion. He later went on to work in a variety of high-technology roles, before founding his own informatics company.

Golan also has a keen interest in archeology and antiquities. Golan and those working with him have found a number of remarkable ancient artifacts, the discovery of which have excited great controversy. These include the Jehoash Inscription
Jehoash Inscription
The Jehoash Inscription is the name of a controversial artifact rumored to have surfaced in the construction site or in the Muslim cemetery near the Temple Mount of Jerusalem...

, an inscribed tablet detailing repairs done to the Temple of Solomon in the reign of King Jehoash
Jehoash of Judah
Jehoash or Joas , sometimes written Joash or Joás , was the eighth king of the southern Kingdom of Judah, and the sole surviving son of Ahaziah. His mother was Zibiah of Beersheba ....

, and (in 2002) the James Ossuary, an ossuary
An ossuary is a chest, building, well, or site made to serve as the final resting place of human skeletal remains. They are frequently used where burial space is scarce. A body is first buried in a temporary grave, then after some years the skeletal remains are removed and placed in an ossuary...

 with an inscription which (if it is genuine) supports the historicity of Jesus
Historicity of Jesus
The historicity of Jesus concerns how much of what is written about Jesus of Nazareth is historically reliable, and whether the evidence supports the existence of such an historical figure...


Today there is a scholarly and expert debate concerning the authenticity of Golan's findings, with some deriding them as obvious forgeries and some, including international experts stating there is no doubt the artifacts are authentic. Following investigations by the Israel Antiquities Authority
Israel Antiquities Authority
The Israel Antiquities Authority is an independent Israeli governmental authority responsible for enforcing the 1978 Law of Antiquities. The IAA regulates excavation and conservation, and promotes research...

, the Israeli police announced in December 2004 that they intended to charge Golan with crimes including fraud and forgery.

According to the BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

, when the police took Oded Golan into custody and searched his apartment they discovered a workshop with a range of tools, materials, and half finished 'antiquities'. This was evidence for an operation of a scale far greater than they had suspected. Investigators have established that collectors around the world have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for artefacts that came through Oded Golan's associates. Dozens of these items have now been examined and all have been revealed to be forgeries. Police now suspect that artefacts made by the same team of forgers have found their way into leading museums around the world.

The documentary film The History Merchants covered investigations into Golan and the provenance of his finds. The film alleged Golan (working with a team of people, including an expert in ancient semitic languages and an artisan) had produced a number of forged artifacts for sale on the religious antiquities market. Oded Golan describes the film as "rumor", saying it contained no real evidence and was part of a "media circus". He claims the IAA and police investigation was mishandled and persecutory. Professor Wolfgang Krumbein, an international expert in the field of ancient patina stated in his report that the tools the IAA used to examine the artifacts were unfit to make such allegations and that tests in a modern lab have proven the authenticity of at least the James Ossuary.

In 2004, "Horizon" aired King Solomon's Tablet of Stone on the BBC. This program aired allegations of a forgery and fraudulent activity of Golan.

Indictment and Trial

On December 29, 2004, Golan was indicted in an Israeli court along with three other men - Robert Deutsch, an inscriptions expert who has lectured at the University of Haifa
University of Haifa
The University of Haifa is a university in Haifa, Israel.The University of Haifa was founded in 1963 by Haifa mayor Abba Hushi, to operate under the academic auspices of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem....

; collector Shlomo Cohen; and antiquities dealer Faiz al-Amaleh. They are accused of being part of a forgery ring that had been operating for more than 20 years. Golan denies the charges against him. Faiz al-Amla, a Palestinian dealer from the village of Beit Ula
Beit Ula
Beit Ula is a Palestinian town in the Hebron Governorate, located ten kilometers northwest of Hebron, in the southern West Bank. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the town had a population of 10,885 inhabitants in 2007....

 in the Hebron Hills was convicted and sentenced to a six-month jail term as part of a plea bargain
Plea bargain
A plea bargain is an agreement in a criminal case whereby the prosecutor offers the defendant the opportunity to plead guilty, usually to a lesser charge or to the original criminal charge with a recommendation of a lighter than the maximum sentence.A plea bargain allows criminal defendants to...

Since then, charges were dropped against three of the men, leaving only Golan and Deutsch. As of June 2009, Golan is still on trial.

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