The site IO9 posted an article today about the James Ossuary. It shouldn’t be necessary to emphasize that the finding of an accused forger not guilty is not the same thing as the genuineness and authenticity of an artifact being adequately demonstrated. Unfortunately, as a result of cleaning and other things to which the bone box was subjected, we may never be able to answer that question to the satisfaction of experts. And in the absence of such test results, the fact that the artifact is of unknown provenance and came to light not through professional excavation but on the antiquities market, means that we have to assume its inauthenticity.
Some of the commenters on IO9 are discussing whether this could be a reference to some other James and Jesus. Since mentioning a person’s brother on an ossuary is, as far as I am aware, unprecedented, this would mean that the Jesus in question was famous enough – or important enough to those burying James – that they would mention him. And so if the artifact could be shown to be authentic, we could be confident that this was in fact that particular Jesus.If this doesn’t help you to understand the damage that forgers and the antiquities trade does to our historical knowledge, then nothing will.