Laputan Logic
Wednesday, May 07, 2003

This is a highly disturbing the development.

The world is going to end on May the 15th and I'm stuck here while Japan's best and most avant-garde performance art troupe, the inimitable "Panawave Laboratory" are on their final tour.

If you haven't heard of them before, Panawave's routine consists of driving about in rural Japan, draping themselves and everything else in white cloth and terrifying the villagers with stories about communist guerrillas blasting everyone with electromagnetic radiation, hilarity ensues.

White cloth brigade

A caravan of vehicles belonging to a New Age group holed up on a mountain road in western Japan for almost a week left today after it was searched by hundreds of police and warned it was breaking traffic laws, an officer said.

The group, Panawave, has become a focus of media attention in Japan since it began camping along the little-travelled two-lane road in western Gifu prefecture last Friday, obstructing traffic and draping trees with white cloth.

Panawave says it is seeking sanctuary from electromagnetic waves generated by left-wing guerrillas in Japan as part of a conspiracy to destroy its leadership.

It claims the cloth neutralises the effects of the waves. [more]

Panawave in Pictures

White-robed members of a mysterious doomsday group which calls itself "Panawave Laboratory" make their way around their mountain road camp draped with white sheets in "protection against electromagnetic waves" in Kiyomi village, central Japan.

Cult members are convinced that the human race will be destroyed on May 15 this year because of a dramatic change in the angles of the Earth's axis.

Panawave group members wrap a tree in white cloth near their camp to deflect electromagnetic waves that they say have made their founder gravely ill.

A Panawave cult member in all white costume holds a mirror-like shield during a face-off with local police officers in a mountain road in Yamato, central Japan.

For years, they have traveled the backroads of Japan in an all-white caravan, swathing their camps in white fabric.

The white-clad cult members, who were forced by police to leave Hachiman, Gifu Prefecture, where they had occupied a section of road for a week since April 25, made a short journey in their fleet of white vehicles and arrived at a neighboring village of Kiyomi in the predawn hours of Friday May 2.


Thanks, Drew 
Tuesday, May 06, 2003
  Jehoash: definitely a fake

A Major Exciting Event on the Temple Mount

An Ancient Hebrew Inscription is Found Dating from the Ninth Century BCE Describing Temple Repairs by King Jehoash of Judah


The way in which the Arabs on the Temple Mount handled the discovery of the [Jehoash] inscription was also terrible, with no respect given to it and its holiness. They merely sold it to a collector of antiquities in Israel. It was a godly miracle that it was not sold by them to Arabs or other collectors outside Israel. In this way the inscription remained in Israel and its story could be shared with all the people of Israel and the world. It was only G-d Who closed an historical circle between one of the righteous kings of Judah and his people, Israel, in our endtime generation. It is no accident that this dramatic discovery was made at this time so close to the climax of the godly redemptional process of Israel when the Third Temple is soon to be built. This is a message from the G-d of Israel to the people of Israel to do what King Jehoash did and to repair and rebuild the Temple. This is the most important and exciting point of this discovery. We pray and will do everything possible to ensure that the Israeli Government and people will understand and accept this godly message and will do what G-d expects — immediately build the Third Temple.


On Relics, Forgeries, and Biblical Archaeology

[The Jehoash Inscription] has become a stone of contention in the bitter contemporary battle for the spiritual and physical possession of Jerusalem's Temple Mount, where, according to some sketchy and unsubstantiated reports, it was originally found. The militant Israeli group "The Temple Mount Faithful" posted photographs and detailed descriptions of the Jehoash Inscription on their website, declaring it "completely authentic," and noting that "people feel that the timing is no accident and that it is a clear message from the G-d of Israel Himself that time is short, the Temple should immediately be rebuilt..." A few days later, Abdullah Kan'an, secretary-general of Jordan's Royal Committee for Jerusalem Affairs, issued a press release asserting that extremist factions in Israel were using the claims of the discovered tablet to support their bid to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque and rebuild the Temple, and further warned that "If that happened, God forbid, a holy religious war will definitely inflame the whole region."


Hold that Holy War!

The Jehoash Inscription is a forgery and contrary to the findings of the Geological Survey of Israel, not a terribly good one at that. Even Hershel Shanks and Biblical Archaeology Review have despite some reluctance now accepted the inevitable.

While this should not come as much of a surprise to regular readers of Laputan Logic, for the sake of completeness please excuse me while I flog this rotting carcass one more time...

Assessing the Jehoash Inscription

The Paleographer: Demonstrably a Forgery

by Hershel Shanks

Was it too good to be true? In recent months, the world learned of an inscribed tablet apparently written by Jehoash, the ninth-century B.C.E. king of Judah. But almost immediately, questions were raised about its authenticity.

After examining the text of the Jehoash Inscription, Frank Moore Cross, professor emeritus at Harvard and America’s leading expert in ancient Semitic inscriptions, to cite one notable example, has concluded that the inscription itself “leaves little doubt that we are dealing with a forgery, and that, fortunately, it is a rather poor forgery”


The Linguist: Hebrew Philology Spells Fake

by Edward L. Greenstein. Department of Bible, Tel Aviv University

The language of the Jehoash Inscription is fake. It is not idiomatic ancient Hebrew but rather a perversion of it. If authentic, it would be a phenomenal find. But clearly it is not a genuine artifact.

To be declared authentic, any inscription that has not been excavated under controlled conditions by professional archaeologists must pass three basic tests. One is physical: The stone, the patina and any markings must all be judged to be ancient by an archaeological laboratory.

Second, the shape and form of the letters must be appropriate to the time and place that the inscription is believed to hail from. This is the paleographical test.

Third, the language, rhetoric and form of the inscription must be those common to monumental royal inscriptions of the First Temple period (tenth through early sixth centuries B.C.E.). This is the philological test, the area of my expertise. Paleographers have already declared the inscription a forgery. Geologists are apparently divided. As an expert in the language of the Hebrew Bible, I have no difficulty in declaring the Jehoash Inscription a fake. Colleagues with whom I have discussed the matter agree.

I will discuss several examples here [some of which are also referred to in the discussion of Frank Moore Cross’s analysis; we include Cross’s examples because Greenstein comes at the subject from a slightly different angle—Ed.] One might argue that one or two of them are not enough to prove that the Jehoash Inscription is a fake, but one can hardly ignore the cumulative weight of all.


This doesn't mean, however, that Shanks is ready to concede that the James Ossuary is also a fake. On this matter, where expert opinion remains genuinely split he continues to vehemently defend the bone box against the critics.

The lesson here is that if you are in the fake antiquities business, as with so many endeavors, keep it simple and don't overreach. Be economical with the "evidence" and try keep it as ambiguous as possible. Hopefully, in this way the artifact will be placed well beyond the reach of scientific proof or disproof. Let the preconceptions of others do the rest.

The hubris of Jehoash's forger was in being too anxious to provide scientists with conclusive proof. Greenstein makes this point quite nicely:

[W]hy would someone invest so much into producing an object that seems authentic physically but not linguistically?

[One possible reason is that the] forger does not realize how poorly he (or she) understands Biblical Hebrew. He or she possesses certain technical skills, but not of the linguistic kind. The chutzpah of the forger is evident in the length and full legibility of the inscription that he or she has tried to put over on us.
The James Ossuary, on the other hand, seems likely to keep them all guessing for a long time to come.


Fanciful. Preposterous. Absurd.

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