Saturday, June 03, 2006

Intact Jars--Watch Your Mouths!

This week Dr. Jim West completely-out-of-the-blue without being prompted-like-a-puppet by anyone behind-the-scenes posted a message questioning how the only-known intact Type 484 jar with an H4L impression came to leave Israel (owned by Harvey Herbert, on display at The Living Torah Museum).

Charles Halton quickly questioned the jar's authenticity, but Yakov Ben-Josef redirected the focus on its export. Here's a link to the original series of messages.

Since I was not involved in the jar's export, I redirected the focus towards the legitimacy of the post-fired inscription on another intact T484, originally published by Robert Deutsch & Michael Heltzer in their 1997 book, "Windows to the Past" (item #112.5; pp. 65-7), at which time it belonged to Oded Golan (presently on trial with Deutsch for allegedly conducting illegal activities with antiquities--that's the most generic, impartial way of describing the indictment).

Then Ben-Josef threw everyone a curve ball by claiming that these were 1-&-the-same jar, primarily based on a line running vertically from the middle to the bottom of both jars. So let's compare them:

Here's a photo of the Golan jar marked up in bright green to highlight its prominent features:

G1) The mouth's outline.

G2) The LMLK inscription across the shoulder area.

G3) A diagonal line above the central handle.

G4) The vertical line in question.

G5) Five prominent discoloration zones--3 light, 2 dark.

Next, we'll look at the Herbert jar with similar markups in dark blue:

H1) The mouth's outline.

H2) A prominent dark discoloration zone.

H3) The LMLK stamp on the handle.

H4) The vertical line in question (with the approximate location of the Golan jar's vertical line for comparison).

Unmarked photos are available on the LMLK Research website: The Golan jar & The Herbert jar. You'll notice that the Herbert photos differ slightly because here I'm using one where the camera lens was more level with the jar so the mouth is not as distorted. Both photos are courtesy of Rabbi Shaul Shimon Deutsch (LTM curator in New York; no familial relation to Robert Deutsch, scholar in Israel).

Points that prove Yakov Ben-Josef is quite mistaken in his allegation:

P1) None of the prominent discoloration zones match. These are caused by processes such as clay-content, firing, cleaning, etc.

P2) Notice that the vertical lines don't start in the same place, don't travel the same course, & don't end in the same place.

P3) I can tell you from examining a 2-Megabyte hi-res version of the Herbert jar that there is absolutely no trace of the diagonal line seen above the handle on the Golan jar in 1997--the wheel-turning rings are undisturbed. If a restorer were good enough at hiding the diagonal line, why did he/she not do likewise on the long vertical line?

P4) The Herbert jar has a pre-fired seal impression on its front handle & no inscription on its shoulder; the Golan jar has a post-firing inscription carved on its shoulder & no seal impression on its front handle. To suggest that Deutsch &/or Heltzer could've overlooked the stamp is absurd. To suggest that someone carved the impression since 1997 is equally absurd. Why would they have made a poor version of a common impression on only one of its 4 handles, & upside-down at that?!! (Its orientation is 5:30 according to the classification system I developed for the website.)

P5) The necks of the mouths were constructed with completely different slopes. Here's a photo showing them side-by-side:

Song of the week: "Conversation Piece" by Savatage (click the song title to visit Amazon; click here for a 29-second sample; 349kb).

G.M. Grena

P.S. After I posted this message last night, Rabbi Deutsch informed me of the following additional points:

P6) The Golan jar was described by Heltzer & Deutsch as being 58cm tall, while the Herbert jar is 64cm.

P7) The vertical line on the Herbert jar is an illusion caused by the camera lens; there is no such line on the actual jar.

As for the jar's authenticity, it has been inspected closely by Dr. Gabriel Barkay, Dr. Eric Myers, David Hendin, & Lenny Wolfe. In their opinion, it's ancient.

As for the export legitimacy, Rabbi Deutsch said, "The Lmlk jar left Israel with a Permit from the IAA."

Remember, this is a rabbi--everything in his museum is kosher! They do not even have any replicas of famous artifacts seen in other museums, such as the Siloam inscription, Taylor prism, Tel Dan stela, etc.


Jim said...

Your description- "This week Dr. Jim West completely-out-of-the-blue without being prompted-like-a-puppet by anyone behind-the-scenes posted a message questioning how the only-known intact Type 484 jar with an H4L impression came to leave Israel (owned by Harvey Herbert, on display at The Living Torah Museum)." is simultaneouly derogatory and insulting. Well played.

G.M. Grena said...

Dr. West (a.k.a. "jim") apparently rejected (a.k.a. censored) my previous comment from his blog, which seems quite "unethical & crippling" towards the discussion, especially when he chose to publish another comment from (someone claiming to be) "Yacov b. Josef" saying, "This silence is rather interesting." Yes, I agree--both the silence & the censorship are interesting. Pardon me for a few minutes while I go to my dictionary & look up "collusion" & "conspiracy".

G.M. Grena said...

I received the following message from Rabbi Deutsch in response to the latest postings on the subject by Charles Halton & someone claiming to be "Yacov b. Josef":

I must say that I am amused and delighted that there is so much interest regarding our Museum and the Lmlk jar. It is funny to me to see that there are assumptions being made about an item that not one of the people discussing it has ever seen. There is a discussion about lines that don't exist. Then there is a discussion about how it "slipped out of Israel". If boarding a plane with the Lmlk jar packed in a large box sealed and taped with the special IAA tape with a permit in hand with the EL AL crew helping so that the Lmlk jar got its own seat on the plane next to mine, I am not sure with how much more exposure the Lmlk jar leaving Israel can get. So before everyone keeps assuming, discussing, and theorizing about lines on an object that doesn't exist, about accusations that are false, and questions of authenticity, I do not know what you will think of next. Therefore, I hereby invite each and every one of you for a personal tour of the Museum to see the item for yourself. I will be glad to answer any questions that you may have. Looking forward to see you at the Museum soon.

Rabbi Shaul Shimon Deutsch
Director of The Living Torah Museum

P.S. The contact person who is in charge of issuing export permits for the IAA is Amir Ganor. I am sure he can answer any questions you may have as well.

I posted this message on behalf of the honorable rabbi so that I could add the relevant hyperlinks, especially the one for Mr. Ganor, where thorough researchers such as Dr. West can pursue their goals (whatever they may be) in this matter. I would have posted it on Dr. West's site if I thought that it would not be censored like my last attempt to post on his blog, & I would have posted it on Charles Halton's site if it were not experiencing so many technical problems (last night & this morning the entire site was unavailable).