James ossuary a fake, experts declare

Israel's Antiquities Authority says James ossuary, which supposedly held the bones of Jesus' brother, is a fake

A limestone box that was supposed to have held the bones of the brother of Jesus is a fake, Israel's Antiquities Authority said Wednesday.

The so-called James ossuary, which was on display in Toronto late last year, bears the inscription "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus."

Some scholars called it the oldest archeological link to New Testament figures, but Israeli authorities called the inscription a forgery.

"The ossuary probably is real, the inscription is a fake," said Shuka Dorfmann, with Israel's Antiquities Authority.

The Israeli owner of the ossuary, Oded Golan, rejected the findings, saying he was certain the experts reached the wrong conclusion.

The Antiquities Authority said another relic called the Yoash inscription was also a forgery.

Ancient Hebrew

The stone tablet, which Golan is also connected to, bears 15 lines of ancient Hebrew with instructions for looking after the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.

The existence of the James ossuary came to light last November.

Almost 100,000 people lined up to see it during a seven-week exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto that ended Dec. 29.

Golan said he bought the box in the mid-1970s, but police and antiquities inspectors started separate investigations into whether the items were recently stolen.

The police investigation continues.