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Phony Biblical Relics

Date: 11-15-08
Host: Ian Punnett
Guests: Nina Burleigh, Dr. Jeffrey Meldrum

Investigative reporter Nina Burleigh talked about the James Ossuary and other contentious archaeological 'finds' from the Holy Land. Many of the archaeological digs in Israel are being financed and carried out by Fundamentalist Christians, Burleigh said. The person who crafted the James Ossuary played into their desire to find ancient objects that could confirm the validity of Scripture, she noted.

Burleigh traced the path of the Ossuary from an anonymous collector to renowned Semitic epigrapher Andre Lemair to Hershel Shanks of Biblical Archaeology Review, who to this day defends the authenticity of artifact. According to Burleigh, the James Ossuary is partly authentic -- it is an ancient bone box. However, scholars performed chemical analyses on the box and found modern materials stuck into the carved phrase "brother of Jesus," confirming the inscription was new. Further investigation revealed the anonymous collector had a workshop where such artifacts could be produced.

Burleigh also discussed the Ivory Pomegranate, another highly-prized inscribed object that was thought to have come from Solomon's Temple. The relic was looked at by the same team that examined the Ossuary and found to be fake, she explained.

Burleigh warned potential tourists to the region to beware of phony goods, as 90% of the 'ancient' merchandise in stores is not genuine. There are some real finds going on in Israel though. "Ancient history is being revealed on a daily basis," Burleigh pointed out. Dorot Director and Professor of Archaeology at the W. F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research, Sy Gitin, spent 20 years working on an inscribed object that spoke about the Phoenician civilization, she said. While not as exciting as finding the bone box of Jesus' brother, it was an important discovery nonetheless.

Bigfoot Research Update

In the first hour, Dr. Jeffrey Meldrum provided an update on his Bigfoot research. The DNA sample taken from a 'screw board' bear trap and originally thought to have belonged to a non-human primate may have been contaminated. It does not belong to Bigfoot, Meldrum said. He also shared details from the eerie stone throwing incident at a remote cabin in Canada that happened while he and the crew were taping an episode for Monster Quest. (see Sasquatch Attack? article)

Related Articles

Sasquatch Attack?

The Monster Quest crew experienced an unusual incident at a remote fishing cabin near Snelgrove Lake, Canada. A member of the audio crew had a rock thrown at his head from the woods (see video). Another mysterious rock hit the roof of the cabin, as did a wooden log, the crew member noted. About the occurrence Jeff Meldrum said, "Obviously, there's nothing in the woods, that's recognized anyway, that can lob rocks in that fashion" (see video). The most recent 'Sasquatch Attack' can be seen at watchmonsterquest.com. (*requires install of Zango)

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