10 Controversial Archaeological Discoveries You Should Not Miss

2. Jehoash Inscription: A Legitimate Tablet which Describes Renovations of King Solomon’s Temple?

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. Chiseled in ancient Hebrew and dated to the ninth century BCE, the tablet describes renovations of the First Temple, which is said to have been built by King Solomon, that were ordered by Jehoash, son of King Ahaziah of Judah. It corresponds to the account in II Kings 12:1-17, in which the king laments the state of the temple and commands that money which the priests collect from the people be used to fix it up.

While some scholars support the antiquity of the patina, which in turn strengthens the contention that the inscription is authentic, the scientific commission appointed by the Israeli Minister of Culture to study the Jehoash tablet concluded that various mistakes in the spelling and the mixture of different alphabets indicated that this was a modern forgery. The stone was typical of western Cyprus and areas further west. Patina over the chiseled letters was different from that on the back of the stone and could easily be wiped off the stone by hand.

In a press conference in Jerusalem on June 18, 2003, the Israel Antiquities Authority commission declared the inscription a modern forgery.

The Israel state confiscated the sandstone artifact, charging collector Oded Golan (yes man, the same antiquities collector who is the James ossuary’s owner) with forging it and other antiquities and dealing in them.

The court didn’t actually rule in 2012 whether the tablet, ossuary, and various other artifacts were genuine or not, just that the state hadn’t proven that they were fake, and therefore Golan couldn’t be charged with dealing in fake antiquities. Despite the court’s ruling, the state refused to return the tablet to Golan and petitioned to bring the lawsuit to the Supreme Court, which has now had its say. On October 17, 2013, a panel of three justices rejected the state’s argument 2-1, and ordered that the tablet be restored to Golan.

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