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The Most Precious Biblical Artifacts of All Time – But Are They Real?

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A set of biblical artifacts have been causing a storm of controversy for nearly a decade but a 10-year legal battle over the authenticity of the incredible biblical relics is finally drawing to a close.

One of the items under question, called the James ossuary, is a limestone box which is said to have held the bones of the purported brother of Jesus and if proven correct, would be the first physical link to Jesus. The first century AD burial box contains an Aramaic inscription that reads "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus."

Another artifact at the centre of the battle is the Yoash tablet, a rectangular stone about the size of a book, inscribed with 15 lines of ancient script outlining repairs made to Solomon’s temple, which echo a passage from the Old Testament.  The importance of the relic is that it would be the first ever relic of biblical King Solomon's First Temple. To date, there is no other proof of the First Temple other than what is mentioned in the Bible, which states that Solomon built the First Temple on Mount Zion. (King Herod built the Second Temple on the same site, of which the Wailing Wall is the last remaining part.)

The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) had tried to prove in court that the items were forged by antiquities collector Oded Golan, but they failed in their ruling and now the IAA has changed its’ tune and is trying to gain ownership of the items.

"They've been charging him for a dozen years, making his life miserable, arresting him, confining him to his home, causing enormous expense ... and now they seem to be saying it's authentic? It's hard to understand," said Hershel Shanks, editor-in-chief of Biblical Archaeology Review.

The Israeli Supreme Court will soon rule on who will possess the items, Golan or the state – after a 10-year battle which has seen more than 12,000 pages of documents and greater than 100 hearings.  

The IAA has declined to comment after repeated efforts from the media. "The IAA does not give interviews on that issue," the agency said.

By April Holloway

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