rom dead sea scrolls exhibition breaks record

in the midst of a global economic downturn, toronto has something about which to be very excited: the royal ontairo museum’s exhibition of the dead sea scrolls was a huge success. according to canada’s national post:

“Words that Changed the World,” is the most popular exhibition staged at the Royal Ontario Museum in the past nine years.

the numbers are quite impressive:

331,500 people visited the exhibit between its opening on June 27, 2009 and its January 3 closing earlier this year. That makes the exhibit the most successful since Egyptian Art in the Age of the Pyramids almost a decade ago.

according to the museum’s press release,

From the exhibition’s June 27, 2009 opening to its January 3, 2010 closing, an exceptional 331, 500 visitors responded to this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see one of the greatest archaeological finds of the 20th century. This attendance includes those viewing the Ten Commandments Scroll, on display at the ROM for only 80 hours from October 10 through October 18, 2009. The great appeal of these presentations led to the Royal Ontario Museum’s 2009 attendance reaching 1,024,964 visitors. This figure includes Dead Sea Scrolls’school visits of approximately 12,000 students and accompanying adults, as well as over 790 organized groups representing approximately 23,000 visitors.

it is encouraging to see that 12,000 students got to see the scrolls. i’m always encouraged when young minds get to see anything ancient.

according to the press release the distinguished lecture series was also highly successful:

Approximately 4,500 people attended the Anne Tanenbaum Lecture Series, making it the largest, most successful lecture series in the ROM’s history.

the fact that 4,500 people were willing to pay to come and hear professional nerds talk about the scrolls also speaks to the intelligence of the toronto residents and visitors. imho, the distinguished lecturer series was a perfect blend of dss scholars, and one of the best and most relevant programs ever assembled.

so, despite drummed up protests across from the entrance, the rom experienced record attendance. i’m trying to determine what was different about the toronto exhibition that was not present in san diego and raleigh/durham. why was the toronto exhibition so positive? can anyone think of anything?

anywho, congrats to the rom, its administration, all the participants, and the curator, dr. risa levitt kohn for all their hard work. your success is well deserved!

new smithsonian article by andrew lawler entitled: who wrote the dead sea scrolls?

Qumran

The caves to the west of Qumran.

andrew lawler has written a new article for smithsonian magazine entitled, ‘who wrote the dead sea scrolls?’ it is a survey of the modern state of the qumran archaeological debate. it is fair, and represents everyone evenly, yet demonstrates how many different ways the site of qumran can be interpreted.

i’ve got a brief mention and quote towards the end, taking my usual place as one trying to make peace between the two sides. i am quoted as saying that qumran was a settlement, ‘that wanted to be self-reliant—the question is just how jewish and just how devout they were.’ the answer, of course, is that they were definitely jewish, and that their devotion was at least great enough to build a few miqva’ot (jewish ritual baths) at the site (and who knows, maybe copy a scroll or two…)

it’s a solid article, and i recommend it to everyone. kudos to andrew.

the copper scroll project gives an exclusive tv interview

Jim Barfield on GLC talking about the Copper Scroll Project.

Jim Barfield on GLC talking about the Copper Scroll Project.

jim barfield and chris knight, amateur archaeologists and directors of the copper scroll project, have finally landed a primetime television interview!! the two met with glc (god’s learning channel) founders al and tommie cooper, live from their satellite-access living room studio. the ark-eologists (they literally are looking for the ark of the covenant, see 17:10) – gave an exclusive, sit down interview to al and tommie and filled them in on their exciting summer. click here to watch the video hosted by waytozion.org.

there is but one word to describe this video: classic. it is simply classic!!! you must watch the first 10 minutes of this video. it is so, so very worth it. seriously. and set aside your whole, ‘watching the video only dignifies their actions’ argument. trust me, this is worth it. at least watch the first 10 minutes of this painfully long 1 hour 45 minute video. the last 90 minutes are admittedly excruciating, as jimmy barfield talks about himself for most of the interview. barfield does allow chris knight to get in a few words (on his cue), but most of the interview is barfield attempting to synchronize significant events in his own life with significant events in the life of the scrolls and the nation of israel, thereby providing irrefutable evidence that barfield’s interpretations are correct, god revealed this revelation to barfield personally, and that their mission is the father’s will. the bulk of the interview is rehash of barfield’s earlier videos, but the first 10 minutes are pure television gold.

Jim Barfield on GLC talking about the Copper Scroll Project.

Jim Barfield on GLC talking about the Copper Scroll Project.

after you get past the bob ross-inspired painted landscape background of the sea of galilee and the ceramic lion lying down with the lamb in front of the coffee table holding up what can only be described as the last remnants of the garden of eden, the interview will blow your mind.

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here are a couple of great lines from the interview:

speaking about the fact that their dig was cancelled shortly after it was begun, a bewildered barfield says at 2:58:

‘there’s no one gonna disrupt the timing of the father.’

Jim Barfield on GLC talking about the Copper Scroll Project

Jim Barfield on GLC talking about the Copper Scroll Project

that is to say, the fact that barfield and the copper scroll project were shut down shortly after it was discovered that the israel antiquities was working with them must be a part of the will and timing of god. it certainly has nothing to do with the fact that the iaa was embarrassed to be seen working with a bunch of amateur observers (including a fire marshal and a compact tractor salesman), who were raising funds and claiming to be ‘leading’ an excavation for the copper scroll. it certainly has nothing to do with the fact that a group of archaeologists began to question why the iaa would be mixed up with a group like this. no, the shutting down of the copper scroll project is all a part of god’s big plan.

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another great line from barfield speaks just as much about the israel antiquities authority as it does the copper scroll project nonsense. at 4:12 in the video, barfield claims that he met with shuka dorfman, head of the iaa. barfield claims dorfman gave them the ok to dig. describing this unprecedented opportunity, barfield says:

what they’ve [the iaa] done was an un…, is an unprecedented dig in israel. they dug, the antiquities authority of israel dug on the research on a fireman from oklahoma. [laughter] that was unprecedented.

The Tabernacle treasures Jim Barfield says are described by the Copper Scroll and buried at Qumran.

The Tabernacle treasures Jim Barfield says are described by the Copper Scroll and buried at Qumran. In case you missed them, here they are on one of Jimmy Barfield's powerpoint slides.

i could not have said it better. the idea of the iaa following the ‘research’ of a fireman from oklahoma with no archaeological training and a ‘kindergarten’ level understanding of hebrew truly is unprecedented.

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barfield hit a little closer to home when he actually referred to the archaeologists that have critiqued the copper scroll project and shown that the entire campaign is sheer and utter nonsense.  in an exchange with al and tommie cooper, barfield states:

barfield: there are gentlemen throughout the world that are angry at me, that hold a ph.d. they are…uh, you can go on the web and you’ll see that they are just hammering me!

al: why?

barfield: i don’t know.

tommie: because he’s an upstart.

al: oh, you don’t have the post hole digger thing on your name.

barfield: there ya go. i don’t have the uh, credentials. i don’t have a string of letters behind my name. and with all due respect to these men, i’m, i’m not trying to take over their, their occupation, i just happened to figure out something – i found something – and i just wanna, i just wanna present it to israel, and if i’m correct, and if they’re still there, i wanna get ’em back into the hands of the israelis. so, there’s no reason for them to be angry with me. i’ll be out of their way soon if they will just let me dig. one way or another we really need to find out.

Jim Barfield on GLC talking about he Copper Scroll Project

Jim Barfield on GLC talking about the Copper Scroll Project

first, the sheer lack of understanding of the value of an education is striking. post hole digger? really? only the uneducated don’t realize they are uneducated. only the uneducated don’t appreciate what it means to have an education. i would never claim to know what a fire marshal does because i visited a fire station. nor would i claim to even pretend to be able to know how to fly a helicopter because i enjoyed riding in one. i don’t have training in that field. therefore, i don’t pretend to be an authority in that field, even if i’m very enthusiastic about it.

i simply have to laugh a this notion that not having ‘credentials’ makes barfield’s ‘accomplishment’ more significant. it does not. what has barfield accomplished? what has he found? having no credentials does not mean barfield is impressive, it simply means he lacks credentials – proper education and training in a field he obviously doesn’t understand. and bashing the educated doesn’t make you smart just like bashing the rich doesn’t make you wealthy!

i do not sign my name:

Robert R. Cargill, AA, BS, MS, MA, MDiv, PhD

i don’t sign my name this way because letters behind one’s name does not make one any more correct than one without a formal education. rather, it is one’s methodology and willingness to submit to critical peer-review that determines whether or not one’s theories will stand up to scientific and critical examination. i am not objecting to mr. barfield’s lack of education. i’m objecting to his methodology, reasoning, and conclusions. were jimmy barfield’s conclusions the result of sound methodology and critical cross-examination, and found to be credible, i’d accept them whether he went to college or not. but he didn’t. mr. barfield has devised an absurd set of timelines and coincidences, interwoven them with his own life and a political and religious ideology, and is attempting to sell it to the public without even stopping to consider the last 60 years of accepted, tested scholarship.

second, mr. barfield is incorrect about scholars’ anger towards him. stop saying we’re angry. we’re not angry. not in the least. we’re scholars. our job is to point out real research, expound on its significance to the public, and warn the public about charlatans and fakes. the copper scroll project is, in my professional judgment, nothing but circularly reasoned nonsensical speculation. that’s it. there is not a single shred of evidence to support a single thing barfield says, and most existing evidence points to the contrary. he has found nothing. simply crying ‘if you’ll only let me dig deeper’ is laughable. there’s an expression about digging oneself into a hole. put down the shovel mr. barfield. there’s nothing there.

mr. barfield misunderstands a few things. the copper scroll was not authored by jeremiah. all of the treasures are not buried at qumran. the qumran tower is not a pyramid (that’s still my favorite). the date press to the south of the southeast potter’s station is not a ‘fountain of intercourse’ where married couples take a bath after they do it. it’s all sheer nonsense! we’re not angry, we’re just informing the public of the multitude of problems with your outlandish theories.

Jim Barfield accidentally mentions the name of the IAA 'archaeologist' working with the Copper Scroll Project.

Jim Barfield accidentally mentions the name of the IAA 'archaeologist' working with the Copper Scroll Project.

third, did barfield really say, ‘i’ll be out of their way soon if they will just let me dig?’ really?? where are you going to dig? who is going to permit your excavations? the iaa? no one in the state of israel is going to let you and your metal detector go anywhere near qumran. not anymore. and did you really say, ‘one way or another we really need to find out?’ one way or another? mr. barfield, please articulate what you meant by ‘or another.’ if you cannot dig in a permitted excavation, what is this ‘other’ way you will be digging?

and did shuka dorfman really approve barfield’s excavation as barfield claims? did he really summon the two main iaa qumran archaeologists for judea and samaria and instruct them to proceed with this excavation following barfield’s research? i highly doubt that. in the video, jim barfield keeps referring to this unnamed ‘archaeologist’ that was assigned to their project, but no name is ever mentioned and the ‘archaeologist’ page on the copper scroll project website is blank. either there was no archaeologist, or the archaeologist has ordered barfield to never use his name in association with the copper scroll project. which is it?

(by the way, at 45:22 in the video, barfield accidentally says the name of the iaa archaeologist helping him with this dead sea scrolls treasure hunt at qumran. barfield refers to him as ‘yuval.’ so the question becomes: what qumran archaeologist working for the iaa in judea and samaria named yuval was working with the copper scroll project? and was he really working for/with barfield, or is barfield making this up?)

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Chris Knight holds up a facsimile of the Copper Scroll that Jim Barfield made

Chris Knight holds up a facsimile of the Copper Scroll that Jim Barfield made

another interesting statement comes at 8:07 when barfield is explaining how they want to continue to work with the israel antiquities authority. they are disappointed with the iaa because they did not allow him to ‘dig to the proper depth,’ but barfield claims that they were, in fact, sanctioned by the iaa and working with iaa supervisors. what’s more, barfield claims the iaa paid for the excavation at qumran:

they’ve [the iaa] been wonderful to us. they’ve done some… they’ve done some wonderful things. and it didn’t cost us anything. they paid for the, the diggers. they paid for the… they paid for everything… the equipment. so now they’re working on the word of a fireman from oklahoma. that gives me some credibility.

that the iaa paid for everything (the equipment, the diggers, etc.,) is troublesome. if this is true, i must ask: why was the iaa working with these people? and why is the iaa paying for it. that is, unless the iaa was going to dig at qumran anyway, and they let the copper scroll project bunch tag along and observe, in which case barfield is misrepresenting his role on this excavation. what is even more troublesome for the iaa is barfield’s continual claim that the iaa is ‘working on the word of a fireman from oklahoma.’ scary indeed. i know of only two other people who routinely praise the archaeologists working for the iaa digging at qumran. strange bedfellows indeed.

an even more problematic question must be asked: if the iaa is paying for everything: why is the copper scroll project raising money?? why does barfield need to raise money of the iaa is funding the excavations?

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still another great exchange takes place at 8:42 when tommie asks barfield if he actually knows hebrew:

tommie: jim, did, did you, um, study hebrew, do you, did… to know how to read hebrew?

barfield: i’m on about a kindergarten level. at best. and people say, ‘well how in the… and these ph.d. guys are jumping all over this. how did a guy with a kindergarten level understanding of hebrew figure this copper scroll out? it’s not that hard. here’s what i did: i used an investigative technique… i used a very technical piece of equipment. it’s called a uh, strong’s concordance. that thing works wonderful… i got the strong’s concordance number and i added it to it in case anyone ever questioned where i came up with this word at. i could show them. and it worked beautiful.

i don’t know where to begin. barfield admits to having a kindergarten level understanding of hebrew. this perhaps explains why barfield can’t tell the difference between mishnaic-style hebrew and biblical hebrew. and yes, we ph.d. types are ‘jumping all over this.’ think of this: barfield is claiming to have properly interpreted the text of the copper scroll, but only reads hebrew at a kindergarten level and can’t tell mishnaic hebrew from standard biblical hebrew. this probably explains why barfield believes jeremiah wrote the copper scroll.

and a strong’s concordance? for mishnaic hebrew??

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finally, at 23:38, we are told why barfield and knight are doing what they are doing and how they are doing it. according to knight:

Jim Barfield disappointed that the Copper Scroll Project was not allowed to 'dig to the proper depth' to allow them to find the treasures of the Copper Scroll

Jim Barfield is disappointed that the Copper Scroll Project was not allowed to 'dig to the proper depth' to allow them to find the treasures of the Copper Scroll

jim and i were friends since 03, and when we… he discovered the copper scroll and he deciphered it, as we began to pray about it and really f… try to figure out why in the world would god reveal to jim and m… myself to associate with him and helpin’ him to s… to research the copper scroll, and we could only come to one conclusion, and it was, and it was sealed our mission: was that the items are to be retrieved and returned to the nation of israel.

according to knight, jimmy barfield ‘discovered’ the copper scroll. jimmy barfield ‘deciphered’ the copper scroll. and most shockingly according to knight, god apparently revealed all this information to jimmy barfield for the specific purpose of discovering the items from the tabernacle and returning them to the nation of israel (before the palestinians get them).

again, i am speechless. i literally have nothing to say to that.

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another bombshell from barfield comes at the 35:31 mark:

because jeremiah… it, it is my undying opinion that he was the teacher of righteousness written about in the dead sea scrolls.

wow. just wow! jeremiah, who lived in the 6th century bce, is the ‘teacher of righteousness’ written about in mishnaic hebrew on the copper scroll (dating to the late 1st/early 2nd century ce). go figure. this must come from barfield’s kindergarten level understanding of hebrew.

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one final area of concern comes when barfield mentions that someone from the travel channel heard about him and interviewed him for a program called ‘secret worlds.’ i resolutely do not believe that any network, production studio, or director would have the lack of sense to put jimmy barfield on any television show. i have a feeling that any producer who gives barfield air time will suffer greatly from tarnished credibility. it will most likely be a black mark on their resumé, and will cause legitimate  archaeologists to avoid them from barfield forward.

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in sum, i am not out to make fun. i am not out to waste time on nonsense. it is important, however, for scholars to address ridiculous claims made by amateurs with the same vigor we critique those within the academy. popular amateurs are not exempt from peer-review simply because they avoid it. it is the responsibility of real archaeologists and scholars to help the public as well as production companies to understand when they are being lied to and being fed mere speculation. it is the responsibility of the academy to provide credible original research and to protect scholarship from claims from the likes of jimmy barfield and the copper scroll project.

n.b. don’t miss the commercial break at the 49:00 mark. again: classic!

new aliases popping up surrounding the criminal investigation of raphael golb

Anonymous Aliasseveral have noticed new aliases popping up around the internet commenting on articles and news items reporting on the criminal investigation of raphael golb, son of university of chicago oriental institute historian norman golb, on felony and misdemeanor counts of identity theft, forgery, criminal impersonation, and aggravated harassment. golb is accused of using multiple aliases to impersonate and harass perceived rivals of his father. the new aliases point readers to a blog containing a publicly available copy of the motion to dismiss the charges of forgery, identity theft, and criminal impersonation against raphael golb on the basis of ‘free speech’ filed by mr. golb’s attorney, ronald kuby.

these new aliases may look similar to the posts made by raphael golb’s chief alias ‘charles gadda‘ and others. however, we should not be quick to accuse ‘dead sea troll‘ and ‘rich cohen’ of being new sock puppets of raphael golb. for all that we know, this may be a tactic used by mr. golb’s defense. the defense could, theoretically, get someone to create new accounts on various blogs, message boards, and news websites and post ambiguous ‘copycat’ messages not unlike those of our old friend ‘charles gadda,’ and then wait for someone to accuse ‘dead sea troll’ of being raphael golb, when in fact, he or she is not. then, in court, the defense could claim, ‘see how easy it is to falsely accuse someone of being raphael golb?’

i’m willing to give this next round of new aliases like ‘dead sea troll’ the benefit of the doubt. it very well may be that some friendly newcomer has taken an interest in the never-ending saga that is the criminal case against raphael golb. there is absolutely no reason to believe these new comments are the work of raphael golb, especially when some of the ip addresses used to create and login to these new aliases are coming from some very interesting locations in europe.

one should not rush to conclusions, but rather, should rely on verifiable, hard evidence to demonstrate that ‘charles gadda’ is, in fact, raphael golb. hard evidence can be found at who is charles gadda.com. or, if you are still not convinced by ip addresses, word-for-word emails sent by different aliases from different email acounts, and email traces, you can simply take raphael golb’s father, dr. norman golb’s word for it.

so while the motion to dismiss the charges against golb still does not concede that raphael golb was charles gadda, raphael golb’s father, norman golb, has reportedly done so on his behalf. i’m sure the defense appreciated the elder dr. golb’s input.

in conclusion, we should take these new aliases with a grain of salt. i don’t think they are the work of raphael golb and neither should you. perhaps it’s just one more ardent, real life supporter of the theories of norman golb and the innocence of his son, raphael.

on recent news about the ‘cloak and browser’ case against raphael golb

Raphael (left) and Norman Golb

Raphael (left) and Norman Golb. Raphael Golb is accused of multiple felony and misdemeanor counts of identity theft, forgery, criminal impersonation, and aggravated harassment while using aliases to promote the views of his father, Dr. Norman Golb, and smear the names of his father's perceived opponents.

raphael haim golb was back in court on wed. nov. 3, 2009, providing the latest episode in the ever-enthralling ‘cloak and browser’ internet anonymity scandal involving the son of university of chicago historian norman golb, who impersonated another scholar and confessed to plagiarism in his name.

in his about new york column, new york times columnist jim dwyer wrote a nov. 6, 2009 piece about the raphael golb internet scandal entitled, ‘2,000-year-old scrolls, internet-era crime.’ likewise, the associated press wrote a summary of golb’s recent nov 4, 2009 court proceedings entitled, ‘lawyer claims parodies, pranks at risk in dead sea scrolls case.’ likewise, jennifer peltz of the associated press also wrote an article entitled, ‘ny case spotlights dead sea scrolls, fake e-mails‘ which appears on yahoo news. clearly, this case is important both for its implications regarding anonymity, impersonation, and identity theft on the internet, and its repercussions for scholarship within the academy.

and each day that this case drags on, university of chicago historian norman golb’s legacy and reputation becomes more associated with scandal, dishonesty, internet crime and academic fraud, and less associated with his life of scholarship. yet, raphael golb’s defense is insisting that golb’s actions are protected by the first amendment to the constitution.

recent proceedings in the case of the people of new york vs. raphael golb

while the recent press coverage of the golb scandal has been fair, it is relaying some claims by the defense that are misleading or simply not true.

for instance, in his new york times article, dwyer states:

For a while, no one knew that 50 different names in the Dead Sea Scrolls debate were the prolific Mr. Golb…

this is incorrect. i knew, as did a host of others. we all knew. i knew who it was. i tracked everything he did. the potential libel and defamation were civil matters, and i wanted an accurate log of everything golb did or wrote. but when he crossed the line and acted criminally by impersonating nyu professor dr. lawrence schiffman, i contacted schiffman (as i had done with several other scholars before him), told him who was behind it, and handed what i had collected over to the ny district attorney’s office.

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another instance is the claim by raphael golb’s attorney, ronald kuby, that what golb did is commonplace. according to dwyer, golb’s lawyer:

argued that prosecutors were trying to criminalize the commonplace. Both sides in the Dead Sea Scrolls debate, they said, use “sock puppets” — fake identities — on the Internet to make it seem as if scores of people are arguing a point.

“These bloggers marshaled their legion of sock puppets to engage in intellectual combat with the sock puppets allegedly created by Raphael Golb and others,” the lawyers wrote.

XKV8R License Plate

XKV8R (excavator) is currently the California license plate for Dr. Robert Cargill's hybrid Toyota Prius

this statement contains multiple problems. first, where is the ‘legion of sock puppets’ about which golb’s attorney speaks? golb had over 80 aliases (‘alias’ defined as a pseudonym intended to mask the true identity of an author). we know the alias’ names. but to argue that golb was simply battling against other aliases is misleading. many on the internet have internet ‘user names‘, nicknames, or ‘handles’ (like old cb radio handles), but these are not intended to disguise identity. for instance one of my handles is bobcargill (all lower case, one word) – not really much of a disguise. all of the posts i make on this blog are done in the username of ‘bobcargill.’ my user name/handle on wikipedia is ‘xkv8r‘ (previously ‘israelxkv8r‘). again, this handle points to my wikipedia user page, which is complete with pictures and a full biography, making my identity easily known. additionally, the fact that xkv8r.com redirects to my bobcargill.com website, and serves as my california license plate number makes it quite clear exactly who i am.

however, this is not the case with raphael golb. on several occasions, golb vehemently protested discussion about his true identity on wikipedia, perhaps fearful that were his true identity to be made known, he would be the target of any number of civil lawsuits. likewise, raphael golb was always careful to not betray any privy knowledge of or communication with his father, norman golb, for were it ever shown that raphael golb was in direct communication with his father, it may pose the same potential problem for norman golb and his employer, the university of chicago. therefore, raphael golb went to a great lengths to conceal his identity. criminals usually don’t like it when victims know who is behind the mask. but, the rest of us on the internet are not concerned whether the public knows who we are. this is because we are not cowards, but are willing to stand behind the free speech we make.

there is another problem with this line of defense. sock puppets are unfortunately a reality on the internet. but, this does not make them appropriate or legal in certain contexts. for instance, wikipedia prohibits the use of sock puppets on their site. ironically, it was golb’s use of multiple sock puppets on wikipedia (‘critical_reader‘, ‘philip kirby,’ and ultimately ‘rachel.greenberg‘) that provided the final piece of evidence we needed to prove that all of the sock puppets were, in fact, tied to alias ‘charles gadda,’ and therefore to raphael golb. thus, sockpuppetry is not permitted on several of the forums in which raphael golb participated, and it was the reason golb was banished from wikipedia.

the use of aliases by raphael golb was not to promote free speech, but to disguise criminal activity!

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another problem stems from the defense’s categorization of the crime. according to the associated press, golb’s lawyer, ronald kuby said:

“It’s usually very difficult to fit this into a (criminal) legal pigeonhole,”

the problem is: it’s not. again, golb is not being tried for the libel and defamation he spewed online against me and other scholars like risa levitt kohn, jodi magness, william schniedewind, stephen goranson, bart ehrman, david noel freedman, etc. those matters will be taken up in civil court after the conclusion of the criminal trial. golb is being tried for impersonation, identity theft, and aggravated harassment. the new york district attorney’s office rightly limited their charges to only those counts that specifically address criminal attempts to impersonate, harass, and steal the identity of lawrence schiffman, jonathan seidel, and stephen goranson. this means that the defense’s argument that

‘injury to a reputation is a civil matter, not a criminal violation’

is moot, because golb is not being charged for the civil crimes of defamation against me and others, rather, he’s being charged in the specific incidents of impersonation, aggravated harassment, and identity theft in the instance of schiffman, seidel, and goranson. while the defense attempts to blur the line between the civil matters and the criminal ones, the fact remains: it is not very difficult to ‘pigeonhole’ this criminal activity. raphael golb pretended to be lawrence schiffman in order to bring specific harm to him. in doing so, he impersonated him. impersonation is a crime. golb harassed schiffman in a most aggravated manner by writing a post using the alias ‘peter kaufman’ accusing dr. schiffman of plagiarizing his father, norman golb. (note: the nowpublic post by ‘peter kaufman’ has been removed by nowpublic, but that which raphael golb said about lawrence schiffman still exists in a cached web archive, and several blog posts, including this one, still remain online. coincidentally, golb used the alias ‘larryschiffman’ to post this blog.) aggravated harassment is a crime. raphael golb sent emails as lawrence schiffman, after signing up for email accounts and blog addresses in the name of lawrence schiffman. forgery is a crime. taking out an email address (lawrence.schiffman@gmail.com) and writing in the first person to confess to something and blogging in the name of lawrence schiffman is a crime. there is nothing ‘difficult’ about it.

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golb’s lawyer argued:

the e-mail messages were transparent parodies, and that in any event, injury to a reputation is a civil matter, not a criminal violation.

this is simply not true. there is no expectation of parody or satire with raphael golb. in the case of known satirists like stephen colbert, or known parodists like saturday night live, there is an expectation of parody or satire. that is, it can be argued that this speech is protected under the first amendment right to freedom of speech. however, with the case of raphael golb, this is not the case. in fact, the opposite is true. raphael golb was not claiming parody, but was actively attempting to disguise his identity while making false, often harmful accusations against his father’s perceived opponents by hiding behind multiple aliases. at no point was there ever an expectation or acknowledgement of parody or satire. raphael golb attempted nothing less than to defame and professionally harm the careers of his father’s perceived rivals, and ultimately acted criminally by impersonating one of them, lawrence schiffman, in order to do so.

it is important to remember that the schiffman incident was not an isolated incident. rather, it was the criminal culmination of a pattern of behavior involving a well-organized, premeditated, campaign of deceit and influence that escalated from comments on message boards and discussion forums, comments on internet news items, nowpublic articles, blogs, infiltration of wikipedia pages, emails to a graduate student’s faculty questioning whether he should he should receive his degree, written letters to board members of museums, emails to journalists encouraging them to write about golb and the ‘qumran controversy,’ and ultimately the criminal impersonation of lawrence schiffman, which included forged letters to his graduate students and colleagues.

this was not parody. it was a one-sided assault on scholars that disagreed with norman golb and the museums that hosted dead sea scrolls exhibitions. his intent was to harm attendance at museum exhibitions and besmirch the reputations of people who had done nothing wrong other than disagree with norman golb’s minority opinions about qumran and the dead sea scrolls.

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the defense has taken another odd tactic, which demonstrates a lack of faith in their ‘free speech’ defense. according to peltz’ associated press article:

Golb contests sending the e-mails. But whoever did send them was just pulling an “intellectual prank” and expressing ideas protected by free speech rights, said Golb’s lawyer, Ronald Kuby.

golb is attempting to invoke the right of ‘free speech’ while not admitting to making the said ‘speech.’ despite knowing exactly who was immediately responsible for the claims of the ‘charles gadda,’ ‘peter kaufman,’ and other aliases, raphael golb has still not admitted that he was actually the one who sent the emails in schiffman’s name. perhaps this is why golb’s lawyer is attempting to have the statements made by golb at the time of his arrest thrown out. perhaps this is why golb’s lawyer is contesting the search warrant and the search executed on raphael golb’s home: despite all evidence to the contrary (and his father, norman golb’s multiple purported statements essentially confessing that his son is ‘charles gadda’), raphael golb still does not want to admit to sending the emails.

golb’s lawyer, ron kuby, is attempting to invoke a ‘free speech’ defense without admitting to the speech. which begs the question: how confident is raphael golb’s laywer, ron kuby, in his own defense? one would think that if this really were an attempt to argue on behalf of free speech, mr. kuby would say, ‘yes, my client, raphael golb, made these claims, but he is protected by his right to free speech.’ instead, mr. kuby is attempting to argue, ‘this is a case of free speech, but my client does not admit to making the statements (sending the emails) in question.’ kuby undermines the confidence of his own defense by not admitting to his client’s participation in the so-called protected ‘free speech.’

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ultimately, the central claim made by the defense is nothing more than a red herring (or to be technical in a rhetorical sense, an ignoratio elenchi). according to peltz’ associated press article, golb’s lawyer, ron kuby, stated:

“An attempt to influence a public, academic debate by e-mails and blog postings authored under assumed names cannot be an object of criminal” laws designed to protect people from fraud, threats or physical harm, Kuby wrote in papers filed this week.

this is a red herring. of course, attempting ‘to influence a public, academic debate by e-mails and blog postings’ is not criminal. this is what scholars do. and yes, attempting to influence a scholarly debate using arguments ‘authored under assumed names’ may or may not be ‘an object of criminal laws.’ however, this is not what raphael golb is accused of doing!! raphael golb is accused of intentionally posing as lawrence schiffman and admitting to something he did not do! raphael golb is accused of taking out email addresses in the name of lawrence schiffman and writing to schiffman’s students and colleagues in the first person. engaging in or attempting to influence a public, academic debate is not a crime, but, doing so using the names of known scholars, criminal impersonation, identity theft, aggravated harassment, and forgery certainly is.

raphael golb does not stand accused of attempting ‘to influence a public, academic debate by e-mails and blog postings’. this, and harassment, libel, and defamation caused by his actions are indeed the subject of a civil court, and will be deal with accordingly once the criminal trial is complete.

conclusion

raphael golb’s actions in this criminal case were not an isolated incident, nor were they a prank, satire, parody, or other kind of joke. this was a premeditated, well-coordinated, well-planned, methodical, two-year campaign of defamation, intimidation, and harassment, ultimately ending in impersonation and forgery, perpetuated by raphael golb against those he felt were his father’s opponents. his intent was to harm museum attendance and denigrate the reputations of scholars that disagreed with norman golb.

likewise, arguments that raphael golb had to use pseudonyms in order to protect against academic backlash are unfounded. when rachel elior’s minority theory about qumran and the essenes became public, it was widely refuted, but she suffered no harm to her career or reputation by personally addressing criticism on the internet and in the press. she simply participated in the academic process. this differs greatly from what appears to be golb’s approach, which apparently involved raphael doing the dirty work of attacking his father’s rivals, and norman golb siting back in his endowed chair at the prestigious university of chicago oriental institute, seemingly above the fray, and answering inquiries from media outlets most likely drummed up by his son, raphael.

it appears the entire campaign was designed to denigrate norman golb’s rivals, and keep golb’s name – and his theory – in the news. raphael golb went too far, and broke the law.

this is not about free speech, it’s about getting caught breaking the law.

on the balancing act between faith and credible archaeology

i recently received a letter via facebook that asked an intriguing question: how does one do archaeology and still retain one’s faith?

the question alone gave me pause because it implied that doing science will ultimately lead one to renounce one’s belief in god, or at the very least shatter one’s theological understanding of the world.

this issue comes up again and again with students. essentially, archaeology students soon learn that while some of the passages and claims made within the bible are consistent with archaeological findings, many others are not. this quickly leads a person of faith to make one of two choices: either to cling to one’s faith and begin to look for alternate ‘methodologies’ that could explain the bible’s claims that are inconsistent with the archaeological evidence, or, to accept the scientific data and re-examine one’s religious preconceptions. afraid to admit that what they were taught or have believed for so long might be wrong, many students opt for clinging to their belief in the inerrancy and infallibility of the bible and seek out new ways to interpret the data so that it is congruent with their preconceived beliefs. yet, this methodology leads only to poor science, even poorer interpretations of the data, and ultimately to misleading claims about the nature of the remains.

sometimes, archaeology is nothing more than boring rocks in the ground. but the true archaeologist does not seek out the big discovery that changes all we know in one amazing find, but rather gives his or her life to seasons of excavation and discovery, letting the evidence speak for itself until the larger picture of the social, economic, and yes, at times, religious makeup of the society is slowly revealed.

so for those seeking to balance faith and archaeology, here are a few tips:

  1. follow the data wherever it leads. sometimes the data doesn’t line up with the text of the bible. this is true about many sites and many verses. in some places, the text just isn’t supported by the evidence. this does not mean that the bible does not contain truth in other places, but it does tell us a lot about the author and the message the author was attempting to convey. remember, even the early church father origen offered a straightforward explanation of the preservation of factual truth within documents edited by human hands. in his commentary on john 10:4, origen says, ‘the spiritual truth was often preserved, as one might say, in material falsehood.’ just because a factual error exists in the text of the bible doesn’t mean that truth cannot still be conveyed.
  2. follow sound scientific methodology. if your methodology is good, your claims will be better received, and you (and/or your organization) will retain credibility. don’t fudge. take good notes, log everything (especially if it is contrary to your hypothesis), and don’t cut corners. methodical monotony is boring, but will be your friend in the long run. baby steps, small turns, an inch at a time. it is by the archaeological method employed that the academy will judge an archaeologist. credibility is earned over a long period of time, not with a single find.
  3. not every ‘biblical archaeology’ object is the same. just because noah’s ark and the holy grail are most likely legendary, doesn’t mean the ancient israelites didn’t carry a gold covered wooden box (the ark of the covenant) around in front of them when they marched into battle (like every other army at the time). each object is unique and should be treated as such. walls and pots are often (read: usually) more important than gold and silver. treat every object with respect, wash every sherd, and always check for writing.
  4. partner up. the best way to earn credibility as an archaeologist is to partner with and work for an established, credible archaeologist or excavation. don’t seek to strike out on your own too quickly. this requires substantial fundraising and once you begin asking for funds more than you dig, scholars begin to question your motives, your credibility drops, and your conclusions will be questioned more often. be humble. pay your dues. earn your stripes. and then, when you have established the credibility and education you need, work with the authorities to secure your own excavation.
  5. never, ever search for the ark of the covenant, noah’s ark, or the holy grail. adventure quests will always bring immediate derision and condemnation from the academy. never claim to be the first to discover anything; someone else has already done something similar. cite them! remember that most scholars rightly reject any primordial notion of god destroying the earth with a flood; they opt instead to see this story as a parallel to the gilgamesh epic or some other early flood narrative. sensational claims are the quickest way to expose oneself as a fundamentalist. know the literature, read, and always see what your opponents have to say before you make a claim.
  6. submit to the peer-review process. the most credible archaeologists submit to the peer-review process and allow their findings to be critiqued by the academy. submit articles for publication in refereed journals and present papers at national conferences. welcome criticism and feedback. this is the only way to ensure your that interpretations will gain the traction they need to become the accepted consensus.

ultimately, it’s not about what you believe, or even what you can prove. rather, a credible archaeologist or archaeology program is judged by the methodology it uses to reach its conclusions. if the science is good, and the results are published in credible journals, the program as well as the scholar will be a success.

‘the distortion of archaeology and what we can do about it’ by eric cline

bi_jugbible and interpretation has published dr. eric cline’s new article entitled, ‘the distortion of archaeology and what we can do about it: a brief note on progress made and yet to be made.’ in the article, dr. cline laments the trend towards the sensationalism of archaeological claims made by amateur archaeologists, hacks, fakes, and scholars who should know better, and the media’s use of this quackery to sell books and magazines and drive traffic to television documentaries and internet sites.

dr. cline then details how some archaeologists are working hard to expose this nonsense, critique and correct the false claims, and re-establish legitimate archaeology as a science and not as a field held hostage by those who use the media and internet to drive minority opinions, spurious claims, and outright unsustainable theories.

give it a read.

the archaeology of qumran on discovery canada

Dr. Robert R. Cargill (UCLA) appears on Discovery Canada's 'Daily Planet' program to discuss Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls

Dr. Robert R. Cargill (UCLA) appears on Discovery Canada's 'Daily Planet' program to discuss Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls.

the daily planet program on discovery canada has not one, but two segments on qumran and the origin of the dead sea scrolls. the first segment pits archaeologists jodi magness and yuval peleg against one another in an on-site tour and explanation of the site. the two scholars are interviewed separately and both give their scholarly interpretation of the site. magness argues that the site was the home of a sectarian jewish community responsible for the dead sea scrolls. peleg argues that the site was a pottery production plant and that the scrolls have nothing to do with the site. (for those keeping score at home, dr. magness wins this round ;-)

then, after a segment on the recently named 2009 nobel prize winners for physics (british-american charles k. kao, canadian-american willard s. boyle and american george e. smith for breakthroughs in fiber optics and the invention of an imaging semiconductor circuit), the show highlights my graduate research at ucla, the qumran visualization project, presenting it as a new, collaborative, third option that could possibly bring the two warring sides together and resolve at least some of the interpretative issues regarding qumran. using video clips generated by the qumran digital model, the show pieced together an interview i did a few months ago to present my position on qumran, which understands the remains to be those of a hasmonean fort that was abandoned, and then recoccupied and expanded by jewish sectarians. these conclusions are detailed in my book, qumran through (real) time (gorgias press).

at the end, the show’s hosts, jay ingram and ziya tong discuss my approach. they conclude that while i attempt to bring all of the data together in an objective manner, archaeologists like magness and peleg will probably remain unconvinced, and will consider my approach to be simply one more subjective offering into the mix. of course, i disagree, but they’re the hosts; they get to say what they want. besides, i’ll do my responding in new orleans at this year’s 2009 sbl annual meeting ;-)

(n.b. qumran commentator and defender of the so-called ‘jerusalem theory,’ ‘charles gadda,’ was not interviewed for this segment.)

update in the new york vs. raphael golb identity theft case

Raphael (left) and Norman Golb

Raphael (left) and Norman Golb. Raphael Golb is accused of multiple felony and misdemeanor counts of identity theft, forgery, criminal impersonation, and aggravated harassment while using aliases to promote the views of his father, Dr. Norman Golb, and smear the names of his father's perceived opponents.

yesterday, new york supreme court judge carol berkman denied all defense motions to dismiss the case against raphael golb, son of university of chicago oriental institute historian norman golb, on the grounds of free speech. golb’s attorneys also attempted to suppress statements made by golb at the time of his arrest and suppress evidence gathered at his apartment (namely, golb’s computer) from being used as evidence during the trial.

raphael golb was arrested in new york on march 5, 2009 on multiple counts stemming from his activity is promoting the views and harassing the rivals of his father, ludwig rosenberger professor of jewish history and civilization at the university of chicago’s oriental institute dr. norman golb. golb stands accused of multiple felony and misdemeanor counts of forgery, criminal impersonation, identity theft, and aggravated harassment in conjunction with his participation in a larger campaign to promote the views of his father regarding the origin of the dead sea scrolls, and to harass, chastise, and in the case of new york university professor lawrence schiffman, steal his identity, impersonate him, and attempt to denigrate his reputation by charging him with plagiarism of his father. using the alias ‘charles gadda‘ and other anonymous personalities, golb created an elaborate network of blogs, news stories, and letter writing campaigns to persuade any who would listen that his father’s minority views on the origin of the dead sea scrolls were correct, and that his father was the victim of a conspiracy to ignore his views.

defense attorneys for golb argued that the forgery, criminal impersonation, identity theft, and aggravated harassment charges against golb should be dismissed on the grounds of golb’s first amendment right to free speech. judge berkman denied these motions to dismiss, allowing the case to continue.

golb is next scheduled to appear in new york supreme court on november 4, 2009.

additionally, according to publicly available records on the ecourts.com website, raphael golb is no longer represented by renowned first amendment lawyer martin garbus, who had been listed as golb’s attorney. according to the ecourts.com website, golb is now represented by private defense attorneys ron kuby and david breitbart (on retainer).

thoughts on the new hoard of bar-kokhba coins discovered in a judean hills cave

A hoard of Bar-Kokhba coins recently discovered in a Judean desert cave.

A hoard of Bar-Kokhba coins recently discovered in a Judean hills cave.

the discovery of a large hoard of roman and jewish coins dating to the period of the bar-kokhba revolt was announced wednesday, sept 9, 2009 at a press conference at hebrew university in jerusalem.

congratulations to boaz langford, amos frumkin, boaz zissu, hanan eshel, and earlier cave explorer gideon mann on their work over the years and this recent find.

the discovery:

stephen smuts over at biblical paths has an excellent blog about the hoard of bar-kokhba coins discovered in a cave in the judean desert. i shall not attempt to replicate it here. avi joseph at gnews and brian blondy at the jerusalem post have also reported on the find. according to the jerusalem post:

The massive discovery marks the first time Israeli researchers have ever found a large hoard of ancient coins from this era. The gold, silver and bronze coins, 120 in all, were discovered in an undisclosed location within the ‘Green Line’ of Israel. The unlocking of the almost inaccessible cave also yielded iron weapons, storage jars, oil lamps, a juglet, a silver earring and a glass bottle.

many personal treasures left by jewish refugees were discovered. however, there was one particularly glaring object that was absent from this cave: there were no scrolls. (at least the archaeologists have not reported the discovery of any scrolls or written documents tucked away with this obvious cache of domestic valuables.) i found the absence of scrolls striking, especially since the article repeats the interpretation of the cache of objects as the remains of fleeing jewish refugees:

The artifacts are believed to be solid evidence proving the theory that Jews found refuge in the Judean Hills during the time-period.

and:

Prof. Frumkin added “this discovery verifies the assumption that the refugees of the revolt fled to caves in the center of a populated area in addition to the caves found in more isolated areas of the Judean desert.” The researchers believe that the Judean Hills cave served as a hiding place, with its proximity to the ancient city of Betar, for a dozen or more Jewish fighters.

interesting. again, there were no written manuscripts discovered hidden and among all of the other personal ‘valuables.’ this begs the question: did jewish refugees carry with them scrolls while fleeing jerusalem? were scrolls as common as ‘weapons, storage jars, oil lamps, a juglet, a silver earring and a glass bottle’ among jewish residents fleeing jerusalem? were scrolls not considered valuable? or were they so valuable that they were not carried and buried with the rest of a fleeing jewish refugee’s personal possessions?

most poignantly: what does the absence of scrolls say about the minority theory that claims the dead sea scrolls are not the product of a qumran community, but rather the belongings of jewish residents fleeing jerusalem?

Coins dating to the period of the Bar-Kokhba Revolt.

Coins dating to the period of the Bar-Kokhba Revolt.

now of course, absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence. but, there is no doubt that jews fled the roman suppression of both the great revolt of 70 ce and the bar-kokhba revolt. archaeologists have discovered dispatch letters from bar-kokhba himself, marriage contracts and land deeds, weapons, storage jars, oil lamps, juglets, jewelry, glass bottles, textiles, and many, many coins. but the fact that there is evidence of jews fleeing jerusalem and hiding objects in the desert does not necessarily mean that the dead sea scrolls discovered near qumran are among the objects hidden by jerusalem residents. when one couples this new discovery, in which just about everything but scrolls was discovered among the hidden personal treasures of jewish refugees, and one adds in the years of research demonstrating the congruity of ideology within the dead sea scrolls (especially the sectarian manuscripts), and one couples with this the evidence of obvious reoccupation and expansion at qumran, it all bolsters the tested, albeit aged and still not disproved majority theory that the dead sea scrolls are indeed a product of the jewish residents of qumran.

but i digress.

political undertones:

as always, one cannot help but sense that political undertones of the statement in the jerusalem post article that reads:

With this find, Prof. Zissu said that the distribution of the coins in the region helps to further “indicate the geographical extent of the Jewish presence outside of Jerusalem” during the Roman occupation of the land of Israel. Prof. Zissu further explained that “since there is not a definitive historian (from the era), we have to rely on the information we find from the coins and discoveries.”

it seems that every archaeological discovery made ‘within the green line of israel’ offers some evidence on jewish presence in the holy land. jewish presence in israel and palestine in ancient times from the iron age through the bar-kokhba revolt is undisputed. however, it is always interesting to observe that this presence is regularly, yet not so subtly highlighted as rationale for a continued presence in the west bank today.

some thoughts and predictions:

fun fact: bar-kokhba (and his coins) was my initial choice for a dissertation topic before the qumran visualization project came along. that decision determined my (and unfortunately, another’s) fate for the last four years.

let me guess: jimmy barfield will revise his ‘scientific’ arson investigation-inspired methodology and claim that this is one of the lost treasures of the copper scroll.

i can’t wait: norman golb (this time, without the assistance of his son) will self-publish some pdf and slap it up on his university of chicago website attempting to link this find somehow, someway to his slowly dying theory that the dead sea scrolls aren’t really from qumran. just wait for it…  it’s fascinating to see golb’s support disappear with his son’s 80+ aliases. but again, i digress…

congratulations again to archaeologists langford, frumkin, zissu, eshel, and the rest of the team and the university!

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