Oded Golan (Hebrew: עודד גולן) (b. 1951 in Tel Aviv) is an Israeli engineer and artifact collector, who was placed on trial for forgery of antiquities. Some of the artifacts he has uncovered have produced great excitement in religious and archaeological circles, and have caused allegations of fraud and forgery. He was accused of faking the James Ossuary 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. Much interest was generated by this case, with a book written on the subject. In 2012, he was acquitted of these charges.
The son of an engineer and a microbiologist, Golan served in the Israel Defense Forces 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.
According to the BBC, 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 were examined. Police then 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; collector Shlomo Cohen; and antiquities dealer Faiz al-Amaleh. They were accused of being part of a forgery ring that had been operating for more than 20 years. Golan denied the charges against him. Faiz al-Amla, a Palestinian dealer from the village of Beit Ula in the Hebron Hills was convicted and sentenced to a six-month jail term as part of a plea bargain. Charges were dropped against two of the men, leaving only Golan and Deutsch. On March 14, 2012, the trial concluded with Golan's acquittal. Jerusalem Judge Aharon Farkash stated "that there is no evidence that any of the major artifacts were forged, and that the prosecution failed to prove their accusations beyond a reasonable doubt.". He was also "particularly scathing about tests carried out by the Israel police forensics laboratory that he said had probably contaminated the ossuary, making it impossible to carry out further scientific tests on the inscription." On May 30, 2012, Oded Golan was fined 30,000 shekels and sentenced to one month in jail for minor non-forgery charges related to the trial. As he spent time incarcerated at the start of the case, he will not have to serve any time in prison.
- "Oded Golan: I never faked any antiquity". Jerusalem Post. 2009-06-12.
- Burleigh, Nina (2009). Unholy Business: A True Tale of Faith, Greed and Forgery In The Holy Land. HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-06-145845-3.
- "BBC - Science & Nature - Horizon". Retrieved 1 October 2014.
- "King Solomon's Tablet of Stone". Retrieved 1 October 2014.
- Navad Shragai (April 14, 2008). "The art of authentic forgery". Haaretz. Retrieved April 14, 2008.
- Thomas D. Bazley (2010). Crimes of the Art World. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 72. ISBN 978-0-313-36047-3.
- "Breaking News: Golan and Deutsch Acquitted of All Forgery Charges". Biblical Archaeology Society. March 14, 2012. Retrieved March 14, 2012.
- "Antiquities collector acquitted of forgery charges in 'James ossuary' case". The Globe and Mail (Jerusalem). March 14, 2012. Retrieved March 14, 2012.
- "Judge Announces Forgery Trial Sentence". Biblical Archaeology Society. May 30, 2012. Retrieved May 30, 2012.
- Alleged forger of Holy Land antiquities held 23/07/2003, Haaretz,
- "Written in Stone," David Samuels, A Reporter at Large, The New Yorker, April 12, 2004, p. 48
- Oded Golan's refutation of the documentary's claims
- Review of The History Merchants
- UK Daily Telegraph investigative article (May 2005)
- The art of authentic forgery by Nadav Shragai, 14/04/2008 Haaretz,
- King Solomon's Tablet of Stone
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