One of the most interesting sections in the ruling deals not with an artifact itself but with a black-and-white photo from the 1970s, taken in the home of Golan’s parents. Three shelves are visible in the picture: On the first are some books and a photograph of a young woman; on the second shelf, some ancient pottery vessels; and on the bottom shelf, the above-mentioned, now-famous James ossuary with the inscription in Aramaic, “Yaakov Bar Yosef, ahui diyeshua.”Apparently quite a bit of effort was expended on both sides to establish that the photograph was either a fake or genuine. Golan even tracked down the woman, who was a former girlfriend, who then testified on his behalf.
The photo seemingly contradicts the prosecution’s claim that Golan had acquired the ossuary only after the turn of the millennium and took steps to forge the inscription on it. According to the state, a person who had developed extraordinary skill in forging ancient Hebrew inscriptions from the 9th century B.C.E. would have no trouble also forging a photograph from the 1970s.
According to him, he and collectors like him rescue antiquities that otherwise would have been sold abroad. He is frustrated because most archaeological researchers ignore finds that were not discovered in a proper, organized excavation, on the grounds they cannot be authenticated or ascribed to a context. At the Israel Antiquities Authority, they also say that the collectors’ activity encourages robber excavations and the illegal trade in antiquities.Also, there is good reason to suspect that many unprovenanced artifacts are fakes, and unfortunately it is often impossible to be sure in individual cases. (See here for more discussion and links.)
According to Golan, the community of antiquities collectors constitutes a very limited group of knowledgeable individuals, all of whom are experts, to whom it is not easy to sell fakes. He also mentions the absence of any logic in the forgery of which he was accused in the case of the Jehoash tablet.On the first point, in other words someone got cocky and it didn't work. (I'm not saying Golan was the forger; he may have bought it in all innocence. But I do think it was forged.) On the second, adding only "the brother of Jesus" would leave just the right level of ambiguity to make the inscription more of a tease and somewhat more believable. Adding "of Nazareth" could have been too perfect.
“I said during the investigation that even if I had intended to make forgeries, I definitely wouldn’t have written 200 letters [of the alphabet], in which you can make mistakes in syntax and shape, and all this on stone that’s going to break,” he asserts. “If I were to forge, I’d make do with writing: ‘The Temple, entrance here.’ And if I’ve already written ‘brother of Jesus,’ wouldn’t it have been logical to add ‘of Nazareth’? Without that, it all remains in the realm of fantasy.”
Endless background to the forgery trial is here and here and links.