Friday, April 13, 2007

Maybe Jesus Is Buried in Grant's Tomb

Since, along with, most probably, the majority of archaeologists who deal with the ancient Levant, I have been asked about the question of the supposed tomb of Jesus and his family …, I thought that I should join the very clear message of the responsible archaeological community and say — this is HOGWASH!! (excuse my French!). ~ Dr. Aren Maeir

When I wrote recently about the Discovery Channel's sorry attempt at Biblical archaeology, The Lost Tomb of Jesus, I didn't realize that Simcha Jacobovici was, in fact, the Naked Archaeologist. As I noted in the piece, I had no intention of watching the program, so I never made the connection.

I should have known.

Mr. Jacobovici claims the James Ossuary is real despite the arrest of Oded Golan for forgery and the discovery his "antiquities" factory. He has stood on a mountain and claimed to have determined that it is Mt. Sinai so fervently that one expects him to point to a spot and further claim that the Ten Commandments tablets came from there.

Mr. Jacobovici plays so fast and loose with his archaeological "investigations", he makes Graham Hancock look profound by comparison.

At any rate, it seems that many of the scholars who were quoted or were shown making comments in the show are now "revising" their conclusions, a nice way of saying they wish they'd never had anything to do with it. Dr. Stephen Pfann, who mentioned in the earlier article, has now summarized both the claims of the show and the various corrections, clarifications, and outright retractions by scientists who appeared in or were cited in te program.

To show how bad it is, even an out-there site like The Bible UFO Connection (which is about as out-there as it gets) has a page of quotes lambasting the show.1

That's pretty bad.

But what is really bad is that reputable scientists allowed themselves to be drawn into this farce in the first place. All the "I never said" and "I didn't mean" doesn't make up for the fact that most of the people who watched the show and bought into the nonsense are never going to read Dr. Pfann's compilation of facts. They won't see the article in the Jerusalem Post, and it's unlikely Discovery will air a documentary saying that Tomb was just bad science for them to see.

In fact, despite the fact that one of the History/Discovery channels actually showed the investigation that eventually discovered the Golan fraud, I still talk to people who think the James Ossuary is really the box in which the brother of Jesus' bones reposed. It's worth noting that the investigative documentary has not been shown over and over like episodes of Naked Archaeologist. Truth is just not as much fun as fiction.

Anyway, how did these respectable scientists get themselves into this? I don't know for sure, because I most certainly was not there during the interview process. Perhaps they were victims of clever editing; maybe they didn't really look at the evidence; or they might have been asked highly speculative questions which they chose to answer as "possibilities" which is not the same as saying "probable."

One thing is certain: They certainly aren't being speculative now.

The person who really gets the short end of the stick here is Amos Kloner. Professor Kloner is the man who originally oversaw the excavation of the tomb in 1980. His work has been lost in all of this; worse, in the minds of those who will remember only the documentary, he will be associated with it.

Simcha Jacobovici's work needs to be relegated to the trash heaps along with "Chariots of the Gods" and theories of aliens building the pyramids.

1 To the folks at Please don't post comments complaining about my attitude toward your site. I'm sure you're very sincere. I respect that even though I think you're a few bricks shy of a load, and nothing you can say is going to change my opinion. If, on the other hand, you're not sincere, then you should be ashamed of yourself for not labeling your site as fiction.

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