the same manner, is on display in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. The latter still awaits its laboratoryexamination.
The Moussaieff Ostraca
A pair of Late Iron Age ostraca, written by the same hand on different topics, are the next subject of discussion. Oded Golan, an antiquities collector from Tel Aviv, sold these items to Shlomo Moussaieff, awell-known antique collector from London. The first and most remarkable ostracon is an order by KingJosiah of Judah to bring three shekels of Tarshish silver to the House of God. The second is a plea by awidow to an official for preservation of rights over her property. After first being published in twoscientific journals , Hershel Shanks, the editor of
, published them in a series of articles in his journal under bold headlines, with particular reference to the first ostracon as one of the few materialevidences of the Solomonic Temple in Jerusalem and to its text as having been authenticated by therenowned Semitic epigrapher André Lemaire of the Sorbonne .The
articles also referred to the results of scientific examinations that were conducted on the patinacovering the letters by the Microfocus Oy laboratory in Helsinki . The examinations of the patinarevealed that it had two phases
the first carbonatic and the other siliceous
indicating its sequentialdeposition over the inscription. The researcher concluded that this sequential deposition was presumablyslow and natural, hence proving the antiquity of the inscription below. Therefore, the patina and thedeposits on the surface seem to have developed naturally during burial. No modern elements or materialsincluding adhesives were detected .However, shortly after the first publication in
there were some skeptical voices. Several scholarsreferred to the ostraca as being "too good to be true." Moreover, in a review article in the
Israel Exploration Journal
, the epigraphers Israel Eph'al and Yosef Naveh of the Hebrew University inJerusalem suggested, on the basis of text and style, that the inscriptions may be modern forgeries. Theyincluded an assortment of syntax and letter styles from various published epigraphic sources . Asimilar opinion was later expressed by Christopher A. Rollston . As a result of these uncertainties, theowner decided to submit the ostraca for more detailed laboratory examinations. This time, the sherds, theink, and the patina of the two ostraca were examined in the laboratories of Aventis Research andTechnologies, a biotechnological corporation based in Frankfurt, Germany, with branches in the UnitedStates.A detailed report by the head of the laboratory and a fellow researcher suggests that the two ostraca aremodern fakes . Further analyses were made by the present author and by Avner Ayalon, Mira Bar Matthews, and Bettina Schilman of the GSI . The analytical results clearly demonstrate that prior tothe process of patina deposition a sharp tool was used to modify the letters. The simulated patina that wasthen applied over the inscription contained modern paraffin, lime, and some ash and clay. From these datait is evident that the results of Microfocus were somewhat out of focus . It is of interest to note that inthe recent discussion on the authenticity of the ostraca in the 2003 May-June volume of
, the Aventisresults are completely overlooked by the editor .
The Jerusalem Lamp
A first century C.E. oil lamp, with seven nozzles made of Senonian chalk and decorated with Jewish