Archaeologist Busted for Faking Artifacts Showing Jesus Crucifixion

Archaeologist Busted for Faking Artifacts Showing Jesus Crucifixion

Archaeologists stand on trial, accused of faking a collection of holy artifacts including the earliest depiction of the crucifixion of Christ.

Archaeologist Eliseo Gil, geologist Óscar Escribano, and materials analyst Rubén Cerdán appeared, this week, in a criminal court in Vitoria-Gasteiz, the capital of Spain's Basque Country. They are accused of having forged ancient graffiti on the faces of hundreds of ancient artifacts.

The Telegraph reported that the three men are charged with having scratched religious images onto pottery, glass, and brick that were subsequently found in the Roman ruins at Iruña-Veleia, about 6 miles (10 kilometers) west of Vitoria-Gasteiz. Gil had boldly claimed the graffiti found on the artifacts demonstrated early links between the Roman settlement in Spain and the Basque language and he claimed three “crosses” found scratched on a fragment of ancient pottery were the earliest known depiction of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ .

Excavation at Iruña-Veleia. (Jabi Zabala / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 )

However, other archaeologists have pointed out that some of the graffiti was made in modern times.

At Least Try To Get The Period Right

In 2008, a provincial government scientific commission ruled that “476 of the artifacts were manipulated or outright fakes” and declared that Gil and his colleagues had “perpetrated an elaborate fraud”. At the time of the commissions’ report, Gil and his company were stopped from excavation at Iruña-Veleia and charged.

Rodríguez Temiño works in Seville for the provincial government of Andalucía and in 2017 he published a paper in the archaeological journal Zephyrus that detailed evidence that the artifacts from Iruña-Veleia were hoaxes. The trial has now begun.

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Archaeologist Eliseo Gil accused of faking Iruña-Veleia artifacts. Source: Noticias de 5 Minutos / YouTube.

Gil had soaked up media attention in Spain's Basque Country in 2006 when according to the archaeologists hundreds of broken ceramic pieces known as “ ostraca” showing Egyptian hieroglyphics and drawings and phrases in Latin, Greek, and Basque were unearthed at the Iruña-Veleia site. But the alarm bells began ringing when certain phrases in Latin were found to be “from the wrong period”.

Hundreds Of Years Out…

The graffiti on some of the artifacts apparently spelled out the name of the ancient Egyptian queen Nefertiti, in hieroglyphics, but she would have been unknown until her tomb was discovered in the 20th century. Not to mention one of the fragments of pottery had a Latin motto that had been created around 1913 for an international court at The Hague, in the Netherlands.

Other archaeologists also point to the fact that writings on the artifacts contain words and spellings from hundreds of years later, including modern commas and the mixed use of uppercase and lowercase letters which didn’t occur until about the 18th century. Experts also considered the depiction of the crucifixion portrayed on the most famous artifact had actually been created “hundreds of years later than claimed”.

Uppercase and lowercase letters were used on the Iruña-Veleia artifacts. ( Zephyrus)

But facing five and a half years in prison if found guilty of damaging heritage items and fraud, Gil and Escribano claimed they were not guilty of any such deception, while Cerdán faces two and a half years in prison charged with creating fraudulent documents confirming the authenticity of the artifacts.

There Is Always An Element Of Doubt

Doctor in History, specialty Archeology and Sciences of Antiquity, Ignacio Rodríguez Temiño, told Live Science in an email that he has “no doubts about their falsity” and that there is no dispute on the Iruña-Veleia case in the academic world. The prosecution is seeking more than $313,000 (285,000 euros) for damages to what were authentic artifacts from Iruña-Veleia and they've asked the court to jail Gil and his associates, to fine them, and to disqualify them from working at any more archaeological sites.

But without sufficient evidence to tie Gil to the crime, some archaeologists say they don't know if Gil and his associates were directly responsible for the creation of the graffiti. And speaking at a news conference Gil said his ostracism from the archaeological world was “like being tortured” and he maintained his innocence saying “there is no scientific evidence that the artifacts are fake”.

Yup, Gil actually said that, which in my opinion casts him into a darkened social realm populated with folk like ‘holocaust deniers’, who also point out that there is also no scientific evidence proving Hitler killed six million Jews. Also, in that category are religious zealots who claim there is no evidence that God doesn’t exist, and it seems it is this last category of people that the archaeologist was ‘playing’ too.

Rewriting History For Those With No God

Concerning the possible reasons for this archaeological deception, in Rodríguez Temiño’s 2017 paper he said Basque public companies and government bodies awarded Gil and his associates “sponsorships worth millions of dollars” for their work at Iruña-Veleia, which means on one level the scam was a multi-million dollar fraud. But it is also suspected that Gil and his cohorts created the fake artifacts not only to become rich, but to enhance “Basque nationalism”, by demonstrating early usage of their language and the Christianization of the Basque Country, which according to Dr. Temiño are two stories “that a certain segment of Basque society longs to hear”.

Ostracon with text in Basque on one of the Iruña-Veleia artifacts. ( Zephyrus)


We witnessed some biblical discoveries this year which proved true in many histories such as the watchtower of the 8th century, the church of the 5th century, a settlement connected to the crucifixion of Jesus among others.

Nevertheless, the scholars were surprised when archeologists had uncovered an almost similar text to the Dead Sea Scroll.

Jesus was born in 4 AD and crucified, it is said, by crucifixion somewhere between 30AD and 33AD and by resurrection three days later. through the resurrection, he came back. But a discovery in the 21st century shook off that belief.

The Dead Sea Scrolls date back more than 2,000 years

A team of archaeologists discovered Gabriel stone, which was a tablet with 87 lines of Hebrew text from the Dead Sea that also includes some controversial prophecies.

The biblical investigator Simcha Jacobovici recently explained these texts which date back to the 1st century BC.

The experts stated that “Perea is located on the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea, it is here that the most famous writings ever were unearthed. Discovered in 1948, the more than 2,000-year-old documents are the oldest biblical texts ever found.”

It should be noted that after the discovery of the Gabriel Inscriptions, archaeologists were stunned and when scholars deciphered it, they were startled by the fact that they were looking at the Dead Sea Scroll on a stone, said Jacobovici.

Church

Recently during Amazon Prime’s “Decoding the Ancients” series, Jacobovici mentioned that the similarities between the Gabriel inscriptions and the scrolls are impressive as both are written in ink, both the texts are written in two columns and have the Hebrew letters suspended from the upper guidelines.

Jacobovici said that this suggests that the stone, like the scrolls, originates from the shores of the Dead Sea.

“So in search of a Gabriel-like stone in the area of Perea, Simcha travels here to meet with archaeologist Konstantinos Politis, who’s been digging in this area for 20 years.

Among the artifacts unearthed by Politis, Simcha is struck by the ancient Jewish and Christian gravestones reminiscent of the Gabriel Inscription. And Politis has a lot more artifacts like this,” said the expert.

The discovery of Gabriel’s inscription has caused controversy due to its context. An expert in Talmudic and biblical language at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, Israel Knohl, translated line 80 from the inscription which says, “in three days, live, I Gabriel command you”.

As per his interpretation, it was a command from the angel Gabriel who asked (someone) to rise from dead after three days. But he also understood that the recipient of this command was Simon of Peraea, a Jewish rebel who was killed by the Romans in 4the century BC.

Later, a biblical expert Ada Yardeni agreed to Knohl’s interpretation while other scholars have rejected Knohl’s reading.

However, later in 2011, Knohl accepted that “sign” is more relevant than “live” but the latter is a possible reading. No wonder, the year 2019 has witnessed some Biblical findings resurface to make these them relevant and controversial yet again.


The Institute for Creation Research

Skeptics have often pointed out that no archaeological evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ has been discovered. And they are correct, at least perhaps up until the present. A recent incredible discovery may put to rest that criticism.

A secondary issue must first be considered. Is it reasonable to expect such artifacts or inscriptions? After all, the man Jesus was not a prominent governmental leader. He was essentially an itinerant preacher, with few possessions, and eventually suffered the death of a common outlaw. Would the Romans have recorded His life or death with an inscription or statue? Certainly not.

Actually, Jewish archaeological evidence of the entire period is rather sparse. There are the remains of large and extensive Roman cities, and adequate inscriptions of leaders, including Herod, Pilate and Festus. There are also influential Jews such as Caiaphas, but almost nothing can be found recording the lives of ordinary individuals. And remember that in A.D. 70 Jerusalem was totally destroyed by Titus. What may still exist is buried under the thriving modern city. Certainly the odds are against an artifact's survival.

The scarcity of archaeological artifacts can be contrasted, however, with the wealth of historical evidence for Christ. Soon the apostles had written letters detailing Christ's life and teachings, to be followed by the writings of Paul all widely copied and circulated, within the lifetime of eyewitnesses. The Roman historian Josephus mentioned Christ several times while relating noteworthy civic events, including the execution of one named "James, the brother of Jesus who was called the Christ/Messiah" referring evidently to Jesus' brother James, leader of the early church and author of the New Testament book bearing his name.

The new artifact is an ossuary, a medium-sized box in which human bones were placed for permanent burial after the flesh had all decayed away. This practice was employed for only a brief period of time from about B.C. 20 to A.D. 70. The box is made of a soft, chalky, limestone, common to the area. The contents have long since vanished.

Most remarkably, an inscription has been etched into the side which reads, "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus" in the Aramaic script of the time. Careful studies, including scrutiny under a scanning electron microscope show the inscription to be genuine. The patina, or oxidized surface equally covers both box and the interior of the etched letters. The recognized expert on such matters, Dr. Andre Lemaire, concludes: "I am pleased to report that in my judgment it is genuinely ancient and not a fake."

All three names used were common in that era, but seldom was the deceased's brother mentioned, unless that brother was noteworthy. To have all three listed, in correct Biblical relationship certainly supports the possibility of this being the ossuary of the Biblical James.

With or without the ossuary or other archeological evidence, we can still be confident that the events are true. The Christian faith is a reasonable faith, well grounded in the facts of history, and the Bible is an entirely accurate document. On its teachings we can base our lives and eternal destiny.


Archaeologist busted for faking artifacts showing Jesus crucifixion

(ANCIENT ORIGINS) Archaeologists stand on trial, accused of faking a collection of holy artifacts including the earliest depiction of the crucifixion of Christ.

Archaeologist Eliseo Gil, geologist Óscar Escribano, and materials analyst Rubén Cerdán appeared, this week, in a criminal court in Vitoria-Gasteiz, the capital of Spain's Basque Country. They are accused of having forged ancient graffiti on the faces of hundreds of ancient artifacts.

The Telegraph reported that the three men are charged with having scratched religious images onto pottery, glass, and brick that were subsequently found in the Roman ruins at Iruña-Veleia, about 6 miles (10 kilometers) west of Vitoria-Gasteiz. Gil had boldly claimed the graffiti found on the artifacts demonstrated early links between the Roman settlement in Spain and the Basque language and he claimed three “crosses” found scratched on a fragment of ancient pottery were the earliest known depiction of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ .


What Archaeology Is Telling Us About the Real Jesus

Believers call him the Son of God. Skeptics dismiss him as legend. Now, researchers digging in the Holy Land are sifting fact from fiction.

This story appears in the December 2017 issue of National Geographic magazine.

Watch on National Geographic: Modern scientists investigate ancient traditions in Secrets of Christ’s Tomb, a one-hour Explorer Special airing at 9/8c on Sunday, December 3.

The office of Eugenio Alliata in Jerusalem looks like the home base of any archaeologist who’d rather be in the field dirtying his hands than indoors tidying things up. A tumble of dusty, defunct computer equipment sits in one corner, and excavation reports share crowded shelves with measuring reels and other tools of the trade. It feels like the office of every archaeologist I’ve met in the Middle East, except that Alliata is wearing the chocolate brown habit of a Franciscan friar and his headquarters are in the Monastery of the Flagellation. According to church tradition, the monastery marks the spot where Jesus Christ, condemned to death, was scourged by Roman soldiers and crowned with thorns.

“Tradition” is a word you hear a lot in this corner of the world, where throngs of tourists and pilgrims are drawn to dozens of sites that, according to tradition, are touchstones of the life of Christ—from his birthplace in Bethlehem to his burial place in Jerusalem.

For an archaeologist turned journalist like me, ever mindful that entire cultures rose and fell and left few traces of their time on Earth, searching an ancient landscape for shards of a single life feels like a fool’s errand, like chasing a ghost. And when that ghost is none other than Jesus Christ, believed by more than two billion of the world’s people to be the very Son of God, well, the assignment tempts one to seek divine guidance.

Which is why, in my repeated visits to Jerusalem, I keep coming back to the Monastery of the Flagellation, where Father Alliata always welcomes me and my questions with bemused patience. As a professor of Christian archaeology and director of the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum’s museum, he’s part of a 700-year-old Franciscan mission to look after and protect ancient religious sites in the Holy Land—and, since the 19th century, to excavate them according to scientific principles.

As a man of faith, Father Alliata seems at peace with what archaeology can—and cannot—reveal about Christianity’s central figure. “It will be something rare, strange, to have archaeological proof for [a specific person] 2,000 years ago,” he concedes, leaning back in his chair and folding his arms over his vestments. “But you can’t say Jesus doesn’t have a trace in history.”

By far the most important—and possibly most debated—of those traces are the texts of the New Testament, especially the first four books: the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. But how do those ancient texts, written in the second half of the first century, and the traditions they inspired, relate to the work of an archaeologist?

“Tradition gives more life to archaeology, and archaeology gives more life to tradition,” Father Alliata replies. “Sometimes they go together well, sometimes not,” he pauses, offering a small smile, “which is more interesting.”

And so with Father Alliata’s blessing, I set out to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, retracing his story as told by the Gospel writers and interpreted by generations of scholars. Along the way I hope to discover how Christian texts and traditions stack up against the discoveries of archaeologists who began sifting the sands of the Holy Land in earnest some 150 years ago.

But before I begin my pilgrimage, I need to probe an explosive question that lurks in the shadows of historical Jesus studies: Might it be possible that Jesus Christ never even existed, that the whole stained glass story is pure invention? It’s an assertion that’s championed by some outspoken skeptics—but not, I discovered, by scholars, particularly archaeologists, whose work tends to bring flights of fancy down to literal earth.

“I don’t know any mainstream scholar who doubts the historicity of Jesus,” said Eric Meyers, an archaeologist and emeritus professor in Judaic studies at Duke University. “The details have been debated for centuries, but no one who is serious doubts that he’s a historical figure.”

I heard much the same from Byron McCane, an archaeologist and history professor at Florida Atlantic University. “I can think of no other example who fits into their time and place so well but people say doesn’t exist,” he said.

Even John Dominic Crossan, a former priest and co-chair of the Jesus Seminar, a controversial scholarly forum, believes the radical skeptics go too far. Granted, stories of Christ’s miraculous deeds—healing the sick with his words, feeding a multitude with a few morsels of bread and fish, even restoring life to a corpse four days dead—are hard for modern minds to embrace. But that’s no reason to conclude that Jesus of Nazareth was a religious fable.

“Now, you can say he walks on water and nobody can do that, so therefore he doesn’t exist. Well, that’s something else,” Crossan told me when we spoke by phone. “The general fact that he did certain things in Galilee, that he did certain things in Jerusalem, that he got himself executed—all of that, I think, fits perfectly into a certain scenario.”

Scholars who study Jesus divide into two opposing camps separated by a very bright line: those who believe the wonder-working Jesus of the Gospels is the real Jesus, and those who think the real Jesus—the man who inspired the myth—hides below the surface of the Gospels and must be revealed by historical research and literary analysis. Both camps claim archaeology as their ally, leading to some fractious debates and strange bedfellows.

Experience the Tomb of Christ Like Never Before

Whoever Jesus Christ was or is—God, man, or the greatest literary hoax in history—the diversity and devotion of his modern disciples are on colorful parade when I arrive in Bethlehem, the ancient city traditionally identified as his birthplace. The tour buses that cross the checkpoint from Jerusalem to the West Bank carry a virtual United Nations of pilgrims. One by one the buses park and discharge their passengers, who emerge blinking in the dazzling sun: Indian women in splashy saris, Spaniards in backpacks emblazoned with the logo of their local parish, Ethiopians in snow-white robes with indigo crucifixes tattooed on their foreheads.

I catch up to a group of Nigerian pilgrims in Manger Square and follow them through the low entrance of the Church of the Nativity. The soaring aisles of the basilica are shrouded in tarps and scaffolding. A conservation team is busy cleaning centuries of candle soot from the 12th-century gilded mosaics that flank the upper walls, above elaborately carved cedar beams erected in the sixth century. We carefully circle a section of floor cut open to reveal the earliest incarnation of the church, built in the 330s on orders of Rome’s first Christian emperor, Constantine.

Another series of steps takes us down into a lamp-lit grotto and a small marble-clad niche. Here, a silver star marks the very spot where, according to tradition, Jesus Christ was born. The pilgrims ease to their knees to kiss the star and press their palms to the cool, polished stone. Soon a church official entreats them to hurry along and give others a chance to touch the holy rock—and, by faith, the Holy Child.

The Church of the Nativity is the oldest Christian church still in daily use, but not all scholars are convinced that Jesus of Nazareth was born in Bethlehem. Only two of the four Gospels mention his birth, and they provide diverging accounts: the traditional manger and shepherds in Luke the wise men, massacre of children, and flight to Egypt in Matthew. Some suspect that the Gospel writers located Jesus’ Nativity in Bethlehem to tie the Galilean peasant to the Judaean city prophesied in the Old Testament as the birthplace of the Messiah.

Archaeology is largely silent on the matter. After all, what are the odds of unearthing any evidence of a peasant couple’s fleeting visit two millennia ago? Excavations at and around the Church of the Nativity have so far turned up no artifacts dating to the time of Christ, nor any sign that early Christians considered the site sacred. The first clear evidence of veneration comes from the third century, when the theologian Origen of Alexandria visited Palestine and noted, “In Bethlehem there is shown the cave where [Jesus] was born.” Early in the fourth century, the emperor Constantine sent an imperial delegation to the Holy Land to identify places associated with the life of Christ and hallow them with churches and shrines. Having located what they believed was the site of the Nativity grotto, the delegates erected an elaborate church, the forerunner of the present-day basilica.

Many of the scholars I spoke to are neutral on the question of Christ’s birthplace, the physical evidence being too elusive to make a call. To their minds, the old adage that I learned in Archaeology 101—“Absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence”—applies here.

If the trail of the real Jesus has gone cold in Bethlehem, it grows much warmer 65 miles north in Galilee, the rolling hill country of northern Israel. As the names “Jesus of Nazareth” and “Jesus the Nazarene” suggest, Jesus was raised in Nazareth, a small, agricultural village in southern Galilee. Scholars who understand him in strictly human terms—as a religious reformer, or a social revolutionary, or an apocalyptic prophet, or even a Jewish jihadist—plumb the political, economic, and social currents of first-century Galilee to discover the forces that gave rise to the man and his mission.

By far the mightiest force at the time shaping life in Galilee was the Roman Empire, which had subjugated Palestine some 60 years before Jesus’ birth. Almost all Jews chafed under Rome’s ironfisted rule, with its oppressive taxes and idolatrous religion, and many scholars believe this social unrest set the stage for the Jewish agitator who burst onto the scene denouncing the rich and powerful and pronouncing blessings on the poor and marginalized.

Others imagine the onslaught of Greco-Roman culture molding Jesus into a less Jewish, more cosmopolitan champion of social justice. In 1991 John Dominic Crossan published a bombshell of a book, The Historical Jesus,in which he put forward the theory that the real Jesus was a wandering sage whose countercultural lifestyle and subversive sayings bore striking parallels to the Cynics. These peripatetic philosophers of ancient Greece, while not cynical in the modern sense of the word, thumbed their unwashed noses at social conventions such as cleanliness and the pursuit of wealth and status.

Crossan’s unorthodox thesis was inspired partly by archaeological discoveries showing that Galilee—long thought to have been a rural backwater and an isolated Jewish enclave—was in fact becoming more urbanized and romanized during Jesus’ day than scholars once imagined, and partly by the fact that Jesus’ boyhood home was just three miles from Sepphoris, the Roman provincial capital. Although the city isn’t mentioned in the Gospels, an ambitious building campaign fueled by Galilee’s ruler, Herod Antipas, would have attracted skilled workers from all the surrounding villages. Many scholars think it’s reasonable to imagine Jesus, a young craftsman living nearby, working at Sepphoris—and, like a college freshman, testing the boundaries of his religious upbringing.

On a brilliant spring day after rains have left the Galilean hills awash with wildflowers, I hike around the ruins of Sepphoris with Eric and Carol Meyers, the Duke University archaeologists I consulted at the start of my odyssey. The husband-and-wife team spent 33 years excavating the sprawling site, which became the nexus of a heated academic debate about the Jewishness of Galilee and, by extension, of Jesus himself. Eric Meyers, lanky and white-haired, pauses in front of a pile of columns. “It was pretty acrimonious,” he says, recalling the decades-long dispute over the influence of a hellenizing city on a young Jewish peasant. He stops at the top of a hill and waves his hands across a sprawl of neatly excavated walls. “We had to dig through a bivouac from the 1948 war, including a live Syrian shell, to get to these houses,” he explains. “And underneath we found the mikvaot!”

At least 30 mikvahs, or Jewish ritual baths, dot the residential quarter of Sepphoris—the largest domestic concentration ever found by archaeologists. Along with ceremonial stone vessels and a striking absence of pig bones (pork being shunned by kosher-keeping Jews), they offer clear evidence that even this imperial Roman city remained a very Jewish place during Jesus’ formative years.

This and other insights gleaned from excavations across Galilee have led to a significant shift in scholarly opinion, says Craig Evans, professor of Christian origins in the School of Christian Thought at Houston Baptist University. “Thanks to archaeology, there’s been a big change in thinking—from Jesus the cosmopolitan Hellenist to Jesus the observant Jew.”

When Jesus was about 30 years old, he waded into the Jordan River with the Jewish firebrand John the Baptist and, according to New Testament accounts, underwent a life-changing experience. Rising from the water, he saw the Spirit of God descend on him “like a dove” and heard the voice of God proclaim, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” The divine encounter launched Jesus on a preaching and healing mission that began in Galilee and ended, three years later, with his execution in Jerusalem.

One of his first stops was Capernaum, a fishing town on the northwest shore of a large freshwater lake called, confusingly, the Sea of Galilee. Here Jesus met the fishermen who became his first followers—Peter and Andrew casting nets, James and John mending theirs—and established his first base of operation.

Commonly referred to on the Christian tour route as the “town of Jesus,” the pilgrimage site of Capernaum today is owned by the Franciscans and surrounded by a high metal fence. A sign at the gate makes clear what’s not allowed inside: dogs, guns, cigarettes, and short skirts. Directly beyond the gate is an incongruously modern church mounted on eight pillars that resembles a spaceship hovering above a pile of ruins. This is St. Peter’s Memorial, consecrated in 1990 over one of the biggest discoveries made during the 20th century by archaeologists investigating the historical Jesus.

From its odd perch the church offers a stunning view of the lake, but all eyes are drawn to the center of the building, where visitors peer over a railing and through a glass floor into the ruins of an octagonal church built some 1,500 years ago. When Franciscan archaeologists excavated beneath the structure in 1968, they discovered that it had been built on the remains of a first-century house. There was evidence that this private home had been transformed into a public meeting place in a short span of time.

By the second half of the first century—just a few decades after the Crucifixion of Jesus—the home’s rough stone walls had been plastered over and household kitchen items replaced with oil lamps, characteristic of a community gathering place. Over the following centuries, entreaties to Christ were etched into the walls, and by the time Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire in the fourth century, the dwelling had been expanded into an elaborately decorated house of worship. Since then the structure has commonly been known as Peter’s House, and while it’s impossible to determine whether the disciple actually inhabited the home, many scholars say it’s possible.

The Gospels note that Jesus cured Peter’s mother-in-law, ill with fever, at her home in Capernaum. Word of the miracle spread quickly, and by evening a suffering crowd had gathered at her door. Jesus healed the sick and delivered people possessed by demons.

Accounts of large crowds coming to Jesus for healing are consistent with what archaeology reveals about first-century Palestine, where diseases such as leprosy and tuberculosis were rife. According to a study of burials in Roman Palestine by archaeologist Byron McCane, between two-thirds and three-quarters of the surveyed graves held the remains of children and adolescents. Survive the perilous years of childhood, and your chances of living to old age greatly increased, McCane says. “During Jesus’ time, getting past 15 was apparently the trick.”

From Capernaum I head south along the Sea of Galilee to a kibbutz (a communal farm) that in 1986 was the scene of great excitement—and an emergency excavation. A severe drought had drastically lowered the lake’s water level, and as two brothers from the community hunted for ancient coins in the mud of the exposed lake bed, they spotted the faint outline of a boat. Archaeologists who examined the vessel found artifacts dating to the Roman era inside and next to the hull. Carbon 14 testing later confirmed the boat’s age: It was from roughly the lifetime of Jesus.

Efforts to keep the discovery under wraps soon failed, and news of the “Jesus boat” sent a stampede of relic hunters scouring the lakeshore, threatening the fragile artifact. Just then the rains returned, and the lake level began to rise.

The round-the-clock “rescue excavation” that ensued was an archaeological feat for the record books. A project that normally would take months to plan and execute was completed, start to finish, in just 11 days. Once exposed to air, the boat’s waterlogged timbers would quickly disintegrate. So archaeologists supported the remains with a fiberglass frame and polyurethane foam and floated it to safety.

Today the treasured boat has pride of place in a museum on the kibbutz, near the spot where it was discovered. Measuring seven and a half feet wide and 27 feet long, it could have accommodated 13 men—although there’s no evidence that Jesus and his Twelve Apostles used this very vessel. To be candid, it’s not much to look at: a skeleton of planks repeatedly patched and repaired until it was finally stripped and scuttled.

“They had to nurse this boat along until they couldn’t nurse it any longer,” says Crossan, who likens the vessel to “some of those cars you see in Havana.” But its value to historians is incalculable, he says. Seeing “how hard they had to work to keep that boat afloat tells me a lot about the economics of the Sea of Galilee and the fishing at the time of Jesus.”

Another dramatic discovery occurred just over a mile south of the Jesus boat, at the site of ancient Magdala, the hometown of Mary Magdalene, a devoted follower of Jesus. Franciscan archaeologists began excavating part of the town during the 1970s, but the northern half lay under a defunct lakeside resort called Hawaii Beach.

Enter Father Juan Solana, a papal appointee charged with overseeing a pilgrimage guesthouse in Jerusalem. In 2004 Solana “felt the leading of Christ” to build a pilgrims’ retreat in Galilee, so he set about raising millions of dollars and buying up parcels of waterfront land, including the failed resort. As construction was about to begin in 2009, archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority showed up to survey the site, as required by law. After a few weeks of probing the rocky soil, they were startled to discover the buried ruins of a synagogue from the time of Jesus—the first such structure unearthed in Galilee.

The find was especially significant because it put to rest an argument made by skeptics that no synagogues existed in Galilee until decades after Jesus’ death. If those skeptics were right, their claim would shred the Gospels’ portrait of Jesus as a faithful synagogue-goer who often proclaimed his message and performed miracles in these Jewish meeting places.

As archaeologists excavated the ruins, they uncovered walls lined with benches—indicating that this was a synagogue—and a mosaic floor. At the center of the room they were astounded to find a stone about the size of a footlocker that showed the most sacred elements of the Temple in Jerusalem carved in relief. The discovery of the Magdala Stone, as the artifact has come to be called, struck a death blow to the once fashionable notion that Galileans were impious hillbillies detached from Israel’s religious center.

As archaeologists continued to dig, they discovered an entire town buried less than a foot below the surface. The ruins were so well preserved that some began calling Magdala the “Israeli Pompeii.”

Archaeologist Dina Avshalom-Gorni walks me through the site, pointing out the remains of storerooms, ritual baths, and an industrial area where fish may have been processed and sold. “I can just imagine women buying fish in the market right there,” she says, nodding toward the foundations of stone stalls. And who knows? Maybe those women included the town’s famous native daughter, Mary of Magdala.

Father Solana comes over to greet us, and I ask him what he tells visitors who want to know whether Jesus ever walked these streets. “We can’t expect to answer that,” he admits, “but we see the number of times that the Gospels mention Jesus in a Galilee synagogue.” Considering the fact that the synagogue was active during his ministry and just a brief sail from Capernaum, Solana concludes, “we have no reason to deny or doubt that Jesus was here.”

At each stop on my journey through Galilee, Jesus’ faint footprints seemed to grow a bit more distinct, a shade more discernible. But it’s not until I return to Jerusalem that they finally come into vivid focus. In the New Testament, the ancient city is the setting for many of his miracles and most dramatic moments: his triumphal entry, his cleansing of the Temple, his healing miracles at the Pools of Bethesda and Siloam—both of which have been uncovered by archaeologists—his clashes with the religious authorities, his last Passover meal, his agonized prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, his trial and execution, his burial and Resurrection.

Unlike the disparate stories of Jesus’ birth, the four Gospels reach much closer agreement in their account of his death. Following his arrival in Jerusalem for Passover, Jesus is brought before the high priest Caiaphas and charged with blasphemy and threats against the Temple. Condemned to death by the Roman governor Pontius Pilate, he’s crucified on a hill outside the city walls and buried in a rock-cut tomb nearby.

The traditional location of that tomb, in what is now the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, is considered the holiest site in Christianity. It’s also the place that sparked my quest for the real Jesus. In 2016 I made several trips to the church to document the historic restoration of the Edicule, the shrine that houses the reputed tomb of Jesus. Now, during Easter week, I return to see it in all its soot-scrubbed, reinforced glory.

Standing shoulder to shoulder with holiday pilgrims waiting to enter the tiny shrine, I recall the nights spent inside the empty church with the conservation team, coming upon darkened nooks etched with centuries of graffiti and burials of crusader kings. I marvel at the many archaeological discoveries made in Jerusalem and elsewhere over the years that lend credibility to the Scriptures and traditions surrounding the death of Jesus, including an ornate ossuary that may contain the bones of Caiaphas, an inscription attesting to the rule of Pontius Pilate, and a heel bone driven through with an iron crucifixion nail, found in the Jerusalem burial of a Jewish man named Yehohanan.

I’m also struck by the many lines of evidence that converge on this ancient church. Just yards from the tomb of Christ are other rock-hewn tombs of the period, affirming that this church, destroyed and rebuilt twice, was indeed constructed over a Jewish burial ground. I recall being alone inside the tomb after its marble cladding was briefly removed, overwhelmed that I was looking at one of the world’s most important monuments—a simple limestone shelf that people have revered for millennia, a sight that hadn’t been seen for possibly a thousand years. I was overwhelmed by all the questions of history I hoped this brief and spectacular moment of exposure would eventually answer.


Archaeologist Busted for Faking Artifacts Showing Jesus Crucifixion - History

“And the bodies of them [ the Two Witnesses]
(will lay) upon the Great City’s Plateia,
which is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt, where our LORD —
was indeed — crucified.” Revelation 11:8, Translation mine

n locating the Plateia (or “street of Egypt”) in Jerusalem, “where our LORD was crucified”, we revisit Matthew 13:22 with Jeremiah 46:7-8, and surmise that “Egypt” in Jerusalem deals with the Kidron Valley.

We are required (by Scripture) to first locate this geography of Jerusalem that is called “Egypt” and then to intersect that location with the geography called “Sodom”. The manner in which the location of “the street of Sodom”, in Jerusalem, is identified as the Hinom valley — is quickly dispatched with the fact that the Hebrew Ge-Hinom (“Valley of Hinom”) is transliterated in the Greek as Ge-henna (“the Valley of Burning Fires”).

This part of the valley of Hinom to which we are most concerned, is directly SOUTH of the Temple, and runs in an east-west direction. Therefore, we need only to find the next intersection point: the Hinom valley representing Revelation 11:8’s “Sodom”, which Scripture describes as a place associated with “fire, brimstone (sulfur)… and great smoke as from a furnace” (Genesis 19:24,28). That intersect with the Kidron Valley, a Wadi in the First Century A.D., and formerly much deeper and with bridges that spanned the Kidron between Olivet and the Temple Mount were clearly obviously there, from Gethsemane to the Temple Mount and from just south of the Water gate over to Olivet’s third peak base.
There are other indicators. King Josiah took the idols brought into the House of YHVeH, took them East into the Kidron Valley, and burned them in the “fields of the Kidron” (2 Kings 23:4). He broke down all the altars and idols of Jerusalem, and beat them to dust. For Josiah, as a type of Christ and forerunner of Messiah, he was also the keeper of the greatest Passover Israel had ever seen from the days of the Judges to those times after him (2 Kings 23:21-23). Christ was the greatest and eternal Passover Sacrifice upon which all humanity in the theology of the Bible is judged by, past, present, future.

Gematriac insights to Azal [actually, the relationship of Azal in prophecy to its forthcoming valley that shall be created through Olivet’s third peak to the East at the end of the Great Tribulation for Israel’s last few thousand Jews on earth to flee to and through] and the Cross

“And you shall flee into the Valley of My Mountains,
for the Valley of My Mountains shall reach unto Azal.” (Zechariah 14:5a)

That secret concerns an “unripe” (or aphiyl ),
“pressed or urged” (alats Alef-Lamed-Tzaddai),
“Oak of the king” (allom melek Alef-Lamed-Mem-Lamed-Kaf)
that is “slender like a lotus tree” (a tse’el Tzaddai-Alef-Lamed).

The Cross also is unripe and slender like the lotus, upon which a King was hung, which also acts as a shade tree of sorts to which all the nations press upon (cf. the Cross with Lamentations 4:20). And yet, the Cross, the slender and unripe oak of the King, (revealed by Scripture as the acacia,) which is pressed, and holds a remarkable and wonderful secret.

Through Gematria, in the word Azal, we see that Messiah is given to us by GOD, through His Holy Word, a value through the descent of YH (being a yod י of 10) as Ya’ala (Yod-Ayin-Lamed-Alef), which divided means “the wild goat (Yod-Ayin-Lamed) of GOD (א).” This is the sacrifice of the Scapegoat, whose life is to be given for the sins of all Israel (cf. Leviticus 16:20-22 John 11:49-53). This activity directly links with the Torah’s example of the sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham, in which a ram (or wild goat prophetically) was provided in his place. From this “base” to the non-believer, but “pedestal” to them that believe (the mekownah Mem-Kaf-Vav-Nun-He), there rested Nineveh (Nun-Yod-Nun-Vav-He, “the one of offense”), who in Gematria is “The Son”, i.e., “the perpetuation” (Nun-Yod-Nun) “of VeH” (וה) – the Spirit of GOD.

It was from the west-most portion of this valley of Azal, at the gate of Siloam, in which the “bereaved” Messiah was “discarded and forsaken” (alman (Alef-Lamed-Mem-Nun), and to which the bride of Jerusalem, by way of a few corrupt rulers forced “widowhood and bereavement” (almon – Alef-Lamed-Mem-Nun) upon the nation of Israel. The Cross is a hammenek (He-Mem-Vav-Nun-Kaf), it is “a necklace or ornament ” of faith to the believer, but a chain of bondage to the unbeliever.

The word Azal indeed holds a pil’ly or “wonderful secret”, for it is the combination of the Hebrew letter Alef (א), and the word for “shade” in Hebrew, being “Zal” or “Tsal” (צל). Therefore, GOD’s “shade”, or the “Shade of the Right Hand” as told by Psalm 121:5, is directly and prophetically linked to this passage from Zechariah 14:5.

And what is the “wonderful secret”? “Zal” or “Tsal” is the shortest form of “Tselah” (צלעה ): “a rib”, or “the side” of a person. This refers to Adam, to which Christ is the “Second Adam”, whose “rib” (as it were) is to be His Church.
It is through this Valley of the mount of Olives that the river of YHVeH shall flow until it reaches the Jordan, and then will flow both north and south from there (Ezekiel 47:1-8). This river from in origin from the Throne of YHVeH: from the throne of YHVeH Father and YHVeH the Lamb (Revelation 22:1). Jesus tells us that it shall flow forth from the innermost part of His being (John 7:38). The waters that flow out of the city of Jerusalem will teach us to trust in the Salvation (literally “Yeshua” or “Jesus” in Psalm 78:22) of GOD: Psalm 78:20,22. To not acknowledge Jesus as the True Messiah, IN THAT DAY, will be to provoke the immediate wrath of GOD (Psalm 78:21).

“And as they led (Christ) away, they [the Roman guards] laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and they laid the cross on him, that he might bear (it), following behind Jesus.”
(Luke 23:26) KJV

The combined accounts of Matthew 27:32, Mark 15:20c-21, and Luke 23:26, in the Literal Greek to English Translation would read as thus:

“And brings out and leads Him so that He may be crucified
and after having searched, found a man returning from the wild fields,
a certain Simon,
–who by name and reputation is the father of Alexander and Rufus —
this one they beat about with the knees violently,
in order that he would take up, raise the Cross, and bear it
which he did take up, bear, and endure
behind the back of Jesus.” (Translation mine)

The emphasis in this verse is where Simon was coming from: the “country”. The word for “country” in the Greek, is the anarthous noun αγρου, “agrou” or literally, “a field”. When this usage is examined in relation to Jerusalem, it is directly used of that region which lies south of Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, the Passover rituals clean-ups are happening in and about Jerusalem….

And what was Simon the Cyrenian doing? It is all but a certainty, on the day of Pesach, that Simon the Cyrenian was carting ashes from the Temple Altar from out of the Temple and the city of Jerusalem (lest they defile the Temple) earlier in the day. Simon was coming north on the Dung Gate road as Jesus was heading east on the Siloam Gate Road, when Simon was kicked about with the knees by the Romans and pressed into service to carry the Cross. Another indicator Golgotha had to be to the EAST.

There are many other passages in prophecy and in Hebrew words and Hebrew tradition that indicate East and south and east of the Temple Mount. The location being just north of the well of Rogel, on Olivet. Anyone who thinks Jesus was crucified NORTH of the Temple is either Biblically illiterate on this subject, or an intentional LIAR. It is time that the Church Universal know the truth that the Bible is fully accurate, and there is a conspiracy of unbelief in every generation and at every quarter to deny the Scriptures for whatever nefarious reasons of sin on the part of those in denial.

In 2006 I copyrighted the information I am sharing, but never published outside free sharing of my work product on the internet. If the world ever realizes the true location of the Cross and the empowerment of the Faith to eternal salvation, Jerusalem will be such an overnight burdensome stone of contention, that the whole world system will have economic ramifications that will nearly fully alter the state of peaceful profit the West enjoys now…another reason why the unbelieving world that controls religious topic magazines and so many religious discussions fears the truth of the matter on this topic.

For the dedicated alcoholic/traveler: Weekend at Golgotha. Sorry, but I cannot resist. Life is for the living.


Ancient 'bone box' may be earliest link to Jesus

A carving on a newly found artifact refers to Jesus, James, and Joseph. But is it authentic?

A newly discovered ancient limestone box with a flowing Aramaic inscription could include the earliest mention of Jesus outside the Bible – and may turn out to be the most-dazzling archaeological discovery in decades.

The rough-hewn object – about the size of a big toolbox – appears to be a "bone box" used in 1st century burial rituals in Jerusalem. Letters etched into its side read, "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus."

Whether it's truly from about A.D. 63 – and whether it really refers to three of history's most famous family members – is likely to be widely debated. But if so, it would be the first extraBiblical mention of Jesus or his relatives created shortly after their lifetimes.

If authentic, "it's high on the list – probably No. 1" of the most important Jesus related artifacts, says John Dominic Crossan, cauthor of "Excavating Jesus." It is "the closest we come archeologically to Jesus."

Other than this box, a papyrus scrap from 100 years after the crucifixion is the earliest mention of Jesus outside the Bible.

While potentially rife with import for archeology, the bone box won't necessarily transform mainstream views of Jesus: Religious tradition has long connected him to James and Joseph. And for many Christians, archaeological finds don't create epiphanies of faith.

Ultimately, the box's biggest impact may be to stoke interest in James and his relationship to Jesus – and to remind millions that Jesus is more than the abstract icon so often pictured high above a pulpit. "Sometimes Jesus just drifts off into the clouds," says Dr. Crossan. But "we're not just dealing with mythical characters who are being theologically assessed. These were real people in real situations."

Indeed, bone boxes or ossuaries were used between the 1st century BC and AD 70.

A year after a person's burial in a tomb, family members would collect the bones into an ossuary. It was a ritual driven by necessity: Tombs, which were often carved into rocks, were expensive – and thus were reused.

For the ossuary in question – announced in "Biblical Archaeology Review" – there's first the question of authenticity.

The biggest red flag is that it comes from an anonymous collector in Jerusalem who is mum on its history. Observers worry it could be a fake from the sometimes shady antiquities market. There is a long history of archeological forgery. The largely discredited "Shroud of Turin" – supposedly placed on Jesus after the crucifixion – is one example.

The article's author, a well-known epigrapher from the Sorbonne in Paris, scrutinized this ossuary carefully. Scans by electron microscopes show no trace of modern tools – and full evidence of layers of a patina that could have developed only over many centuries. The inscription's grammar and script also appear to fit normal usage in the decades leading up to the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.

Then there's the question of whether the inscription refers to Jesus of Nazareth. The three names it mentions are as common as Jim, Jack, and John today. In tackling this riddle, the author turns to statistics. Of the 40,000 men living in Jerusalem at the time, he figures about 20 people could fit the description "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus." But the mention of a brother is highly unusual on ossuaries. This could hint that the Jesus mentioned here is particularly famous – thus perhaps Jesus of Nazareth.

Experts already disagree about the authenticity. Crossan figures it's most likely credible. But Robert Eisenman, author of "James the Brother of Jesus" worries the inscription is too good to be true. "It's too pat," he says. "Why add 'Jesus' to the inscription? It's like someone wanted us to be sure."

If the box is viewed as credible, the impact could be enormous. "It would perhaps rival the Dead Sea Scrolls," says Dr. Eisenman.

First, it would add to the scant extrabiblical evidence of Jesus' existence – though few today doubt such a man trod the Earth.

Second, it would renew a theologically charged debate about James's relationship to Jesus. The traditional Roman Catholic view is that Jesus is the only son of Mary. If Mary was always a virgin, the argument goes, then James must actually be a cousin or half-brother or step-brother. The ossuary may be "the nail in the coffin of the 'cousin' argument," says John Meier, a New Testament professor at Notre Dame University.

Third, it would perhaps renew interest in the man who has been called "James the Just." A reputed vegetarian who dressed in simple linen, he had little political power but used his enormous moral suasion to broker compromises between Christian factions.

Most broadly, it would remind people of the humanity of Jesus. "For the first time," says Mr. Meier, "you can actually put your hands on something connected to Jesus."

Biggest archaeological finds related to the life and times of Jesus – besides the new "James ossuary."

1. Ossuary of high priest Joseph Caiaphas, who's mentioned in the Bible as helping interrogate Jesus before the crucifixion. Found in Jerusalem in 1990.

2. Inscription mentioning Pontius Pilate, the Roman official who approved Jesus' crucifixion. Found in 1962 near the Mediterranean Sea.

3. The apostle Peter's house. Found in 1906 – but not confirmed until the 1980s – in Capernaum beneath the remains of a 5th-century church.

4. The Galilee Boat. A 1st-century, 8-by-26-foot fishing boat. Found in the mud of the Sea of Galilee in 1986.

5. The Crucified Man. Remains, including a bone heel pierced by a large nail. Discovered in burial caves near Jerusalem in 1968.


The Holy Foreskin

Jesus was circumcised as an infant and it was believed by many that the skin cut from the infant was preserved. There was some reference to the foreskin being preserved by an old Hebrew woman in an alabaster box of old oil of spikenard. However, the foreskin largely disappeared after that, with no real mention of it again until the Middle Ages.

On December 25, 800, Charlemagne was purported to have given it to Pope Leo III in gratitude for crowning him Emperor. When asked where he got the holy foreskin, Charlemagne responded that it had been brought to him by an angel as he was praying at the Holy Sepulchre. Another report claims that it was given to him as a wedding present by Empress Irene. Pope Leo III then took the foreskin and placed it Sancta Sanctorum and there it remained until Rome was sacked in 1527.

A German soldier stole the foreskin during the attack and took it to Calcata where he was captured. The soldier managed to hide the relic in his cell and there it stayed until it was found in 1557. From then on, the foreskin remained in Calcata and had several miracles attributed to it. The story and the miracles were enough to have the Catholic Church approve the authenticity of the skin in Calcata over the numerous other claims of holy foreskin.

In 1900, the Church grew tired of the celebration of the foreskin. So the Vatican issued a warning that anyone who so much as talked about the Holy Prepuce would be excommunicated. This did little to deter the people of Calcata ,who were proud of their sacred relic and would march it through the streets every year on the Feast of the Circumcision. However, the practice stopped when the relic was stolen in 1983. Some believe that it was stolen by or sold to the Vatican in order to get people to stop talking about the foreskin. It has not been seen since.


Fake News In Biblical Archaeology

In a world of fake news and internet hoaxes it’s important to carefully check your sources before you inadvertently spread misinformation. The world of archaeology is no exception to sensationalistic stories and purported “discoveries” that turn out to be flat-out false. This is especially true in the world of biblical archaeology, which has seen its fair share of fake finds. Unfortunately, this sometimes takes in undiscerning Christians and occasionally even “experts” who are overly invested in the news. So, to help clarify things and to put an end to the urban myths I continually hear touted by well-meaning people, here are five archaeological discoveries that are simply not true.

1) Egyptian Chariot Wheels in the Red Sea

Photo Credit: Wyatt Archaeological Research NOTE: Wyatt “Archaeological Research” does not carry out reputable “archaeological” research

This is probably the “discovery” I hear people repeat most often. Maybe you’ve heard it to: “Archaeologists have discovered Egyptian chariot wheels and bones in the Red Sea, which proves the story of the Exodus and the crossing of the Red Sea in the Bible.” This claim seems to have originated in 1993 through a newsletter put out by the “Wyatt Archaeological Research,” 1 which sounds impressive until you learn that:

a) Ron Wyatt was not an archaeologist (he was a nurse anesthetist). This, in and of itself does not mean that he could not make a discovery. It means that he had no training to interpret that discovery. One archaeologist has said archaeology is 10% excavation and 90% interpretation.

b) Ron Wyatt was never carried out a systematic excavation that was licensed by the Israeli government. Joe Zias, the former Curator of Archaeology and Anthropology for the Israel Antiquities Authority said, “Mr. Ron Wyatt is neither an archaeologist nor has he ever carried out a legally licensed excavation in Israel or Jerusalem…We are aware of his claims which border on the absurd as they have no scientific basis whatsoever nor have they ever been published in a professional journal. They fall into the category of trash which one finds in tabloids such as the National Enquirer, Sun etc. It’s amazing that anyone would believe them.” 2

c) Ron Wyatt never published any of his supposed finds in a peer-reviewed archaeological journal. Publishing something in your own newsletter or on your own website does not pass the checks-and-balances peer-review. Dr. Scott Stripling, the Director of Excavations at Shiloh, led by the Associates for Biblical Research, says that the goal of archaeology is not excavation, but publication.

d) Ron Wyatt never made any of his supposed discoveries available for trained archaeologists to examine.

e) Ron Wyatt never adequately addressed inconsistencies in some of his stories, such as how he discovered the supposed chariot wheels at a depth of 200 feet using scuba equipment designed for depths of 125-130 feet.

Despite these serious deficiencies, those who uncritically follow Ron Wyatt continue to promote his almost 100 biblically-related “discoveries,” (all of which were made within a decade! Clearly these people don’t know how archaeological excavations are conducted in the real world.). These alleged discoveries include:

  • Noah’s Ark
  • the fire and brimstone balls from the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah
  • The tower of Babel
  • The Ark of the Covenant
  • The original 10 commandment tablets
  • Goliath’s sword
  • The site of Jesus’ crucifixion, including the blood Jesus in an “earthquake crack” beneath the crucifixion site that he claims he had analyzed and showed it only contained 24 chromosomes instead of 46.

The list of fantastical discoveries should, in and of itself, raise questions about any discovery Ron Wyatt claimed to have made. This didn’t stop his “discovery” of chariot wheels spreading. It has been repeated in articles and books and documentaries though. In actual fact, Ron Wyatt’s work has universally debunked by respected archaeologists and scholars. In fact, even two ministers in his own denomination (Seven Day Adventist) wrote an entire book called, “Holy Relics or Revelation: Examining the claims of Ron Wyatt” to show his work was largely a hoax. 3

The Egyptian chariot wheel story gained new a new life when it appeared in an online article in World News Daily, which claimed, “Egypt’s Antiquities Ministry announced this morning that a team of underwater archaeologists had discovered that remains of a large Egyptian army from the 14th century BC, at the bottom of the Gulf of Suez, 1.5 kilometers offshore from the modern city of Ras Gharib.” 4 Those who were taken in by this hoax obviously didn’t read the disclaimer at the bottom of the article which read, “World News Daily Report assumes all responsibility for the satirical nature of its articles and for the fictional nature of their content.”

To be clear, no chariot wheels from the Egyptian army that drowned chasing Moses and the children of Israel as described in Exodus 14 have ever been found.

In contrast to hoaxes like this, there is good research being done by respected scholars and archaeologists that has confirmed numerous details of the biblical account of Israel in Egypt 5 , identified the likely Pharaoh of the Exodus 6 , and highlighted evidence for the actual date of the Exodus. 7 8 9 Ron Wyatt supporters will often claim that his discoveries were suppressed because of professional jealousy. The reality is that the Associates for Biblical Research (www.BibleArchaeology.org) , a group of Christian archaeologists and scholars who are dedicated to demonstrating the historical reliability of Scripture, often promote the findings of other archaeologists who have made legitimate discoveries in a controlled archaeological excavation. The reason they do not promote Ron Wyatt’s work has nothing to do with professional jealousy it has everything to do his unsubstantiated, unscholarly, and, quite possibly, fraudulent claims.

2) The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife

The “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” is a credit-card sized papyrus which has been shown to be fraudulent. Photo Credit: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

In 2012, Harvard University professor, Karen King, announced the discovery of a papyrus that was written in Coptic (an ancient Egyptian language) that read, “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife…” and may have referred to Mary Magdalene. King provocatively named it the “Gospel of Jesus’s Wife” and dated it to the fourth century AD, maintaining that it might have been copied from a second-century AD “gospel.” 10

Almost immediately, scholars began to suspect it was a modern-day forgery, as one pointed out that the text and line breaks appeared to be copied from another papyrus that had been published in a 1924 book. Eventually Ariel Sabar, an investigative journalist from The Atlantic did an expose that tracked town the true original owner of the papyrus, a former Egyptology student named Walter Fritz who had at one time run an art website that sold pieces that looked like ancient manuscripts. Fritz eventually admitted to being the owner of the papyrus. While he never admitted to forging it, he did stress that he had never once claimed the papyrus was authentic. 11

Karen King eventually conceded that the papyrus is likely a forgery and that its owner had lied to her about its provenance. Sadly, as is all too common in cases like this, the original announcement was met with great interest and picked up by news networks around the world, while the retraction generated little interest and coverage.

People interested in following the discovery of new manuscripts related to the Bible would be better off following an expert organization, such as the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts at www.csntm.org or the Current Events updates at www.BibleArchaeology.org.

Goliath’s Skeleton – In the Bible, Goliath is the great Philistine warrior who is described as being over nine feet tall (1 Sa 17:4). In February 2018, a news story made its way around social media proclaiming that Goliath’s skeleton had been discovered. The sensationalistic claim went on to declare:

“Diggers in Israel believe they’ve made a giant discovery. For they’re convinced they’ve come across Goliath’s skull! And what’s more, they say, the stone from David’s slingshot is still embedded in the forehead.”

Archaeologist Dr. Richard Martin says: “We found the skull in the Valley of Elah, in the foothills of the Judean Mountains, where David’s battle with Goliath took place. The skull is huge and clearly belongs to a man of enormous stature.” 12

Some of the photos which accompanied the fake “Goliath Skeleton” story. Photo Credit: Snopes.com

The story is essentially recycled from a 1993 article that appeared in the tabloid Weekly World News. Some of the accompanying pictures were actually taken from a 2008 photoshop contest from the website Worth 1000, called “Archaeological Anomalies 12,” in which participants submitted pictures that were intended to “create and archaeological hoax.” One of the pictures was an actual photograph, but it was of a sculpture done by Italian artist Gino De Domonicis called “Calamita Cosmica” (“Cosmic Magnet”), which is in the Museo Nazionale delle Arti del XXI Secolo in Rome. 13

Rather than being taken in by obvious tabloid trash, there is real research being done by actual archaeologists on the Philistine people. The recent discovery at the Philistine city of Gath of a proto-semitic inscription dating to the 10 th century BC with a name that etymologically very close to Goliath, demonstrates that names like this were common at the time the Bible says they are. 14 In 2016, a cemetery was excavated at the city of Ashkelon, which demonstrated that Philistine burial practices were different than their Canaanite and Israelite neighbors. 15 To date, no giant skeletons have been found there.

Fake news is nothing new, and hoaxes are not unknown in the world of biblical archaeology. There are many reputable archaeologists doing good field work in the lands of the Bible. The work of the Associates for Biblical Research (www.BibleArchaeology.org) is one such group whose announcements and discoveries can be trusted. So check the source your information before your share it.

FINAL WORD: Fake news and archaeological hoaxes are different than different interpretations of archaeological discoveries. As the old saying goes: ask two archaeologists and you’ll get at least three opinions. Some have estimated that real archaeology is 10% digging and 90% interpretation. So healthy debate surrounding archaeological discoveries will always be present. For this blog, I’ve chosen to focus on “discoveries” that were patently false.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I am a staff member and writer for the Associates for Biblical Research.