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I appreciate M. Lemaire's attention to my article in the SBL Forum. Nevertheless, I question whether he has read it carefully enough to understand fully what the point of it is.

Concerning the Ivory Pomegranate, he writes: "In fact the main reproach against its authenticity seems to be that it was sold for a very high price, but that cannot be a scientific argument for or against the authenticity of any inscription, and, if I believe the story as told, it became only a serious problem about seven years after I published the inscription in Revue Biblique."

In fact, I do not discuss in my article whether the Ivory Pomegranate is a forgery. The Israel Museum has already decided that the Pomegranate is a forgery. My point was, instead, that BAR 's role in "authenticating " and publicizing an artifact that later was believed to be a forgery made the magazine, by its own admission, a player in the illegal antiquities market. In hindsight, BAR might be considered to have contributed to the burgeoning market in false artifacts. I question whether that is a legitimate role for BAR to play.

Concerning the "Abdi" seal, M. Lemaire writes, "Why should it be considered a forgery? ' Although the 'Abdi son [sic!] of Hoshea' seal is not specifically mentioned in the text of the indictment, a photograph of it as an alleged forgery item was shown at the press conference announcing the indictments. ' Scholars should present more serious arguments! "

Once again, my main point was not that the Abdi seal was a forgery. My point was that BAR and Mr. Shanks drew several important conclusions from a seal that was unprovenanced, sold at auction, not subjected to technical protocols, and that now indeed is under investigation as a forgery. It is this eagerness to publicize and to sensationalize, without asking pertinent questions, that I criticize.

I have a very high regard for M. Lemaire and his accomplishments in the field of Northwest Semitic epigraphy. Nevertheless, I feel that he has misunderstood my article.

Citation: Edward M. Cook, " Response To Lemaire," SBL Forum , n.p. [cited March 2005]. Online:


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