Each year, the unsuspecting public is confronted with more and more unsubstantiated religious/scientific claims;  Noah’s Ark on Mount Ararat, Sodom and Gomorrah, bogus lead codices, fraudulent scrolls and now the  DNA of Jesus, his wife Mary and their son ‘miraculously’ discovered by American and Canadian ‘academics’ often posing as archaeologists.  Just when the public believes they have seen it all, these ‘academics’  suddenly ‘discover’ Atlantis, the iron nails used to crucify Jesus of Nazareth,  appearing on American television during Easter week.  While New and Old World archaeologists have dedicated their entire lives for the advancement of science; these so-called ‘scholars’ along with a film maker whose documentaries and books have been  aptly described by  rather  descriptive terms as , archaeo-porn,  ‘press conference archaeology’ or ‘archaeology for losers’.  Their often absurd ideas, with no serious academic support, are  never submitted for peer review, (an almost sacred responsibility in the world of science), but are presented before a closed press conference a day or two before the book or film premieres,  under the pretext of science.  Scholars, scientists, religious and non religious who dare criticize are threatened with legal action or, in this specific case, a near one million dollar libel suit. Now is the time for a Landmark decision against this abuse of science, Jerusalem archaeology and religion.


“Academics should be lawyers for the masses “ Seneca d. 56 AD


            As an Israeli biblical archaeologist/anthropologist for the past four decades, Joe Zias has been one of the professions’ most outspoken critics of self -styled preachers, ‘ark-eologists’, film makers, authors -- all posing as archaeologists, seeking fame and fortune at the expense of both science and religion.

            Zias’ interest in these scams began in Jerusalem in the late 1970’s while unexpectedly being visited by three Kansas ministers inquiring about the absurd and preposterous ideas of a self- styled American ‘ark-eologist’ claiming to have found Noah’s Ark, the ‘real’ Mt. Sinai, the site of Sodom and Gomorrah, the wheels of the Egyptian chariots from the Red Sea along with the blood of Jesus in Jerusalem.  While the general public would laugh at these ‘made for TV’ and supermarket tabloid claims, it was only when these ministers related to Zias that money which had formerly gone to their communities, used to provide care for the ‘blind, the lame and the halt’ was now being funneled into the pockets of these self- styled ‘archaeologists’ and film makers providing ‘signs and wonders’ on an unprecedented scale.


            It was then that Zias realized, as an academic educated by tax payers public funding that one is obligated to be, in the words of the Roman philosopher Seneca,  ‘a lawyer for the masses,’ irrespective of one’s religious views when confronting issues of public interest.


            These ‘pseudo’ archaeologists, along with film-makers commanding  virtually no credibility in the academic world, are often well connected to print media, Hollywood and the world of commercial and private funding.  Recently, two Canadians, one a self -proclaimed ‘King of the World’ at the 2008 Academy Awards along with a  Canadian film maker who boasts as being the ‘Ali-G of archaeology ,‘ have produced and directed a series on biblical archaeology, dammed by nearly the entire academic community worldwide.  After their second film, The Jesus Family Tomb `(2007) and book, The Jesus Family Tomb: The Evidence Behind the Discovery No One Wanted to Find (2009), in which they ‘claimed’ to have found the DNA of Jesus and his family, the self -proclaimed ‘king of the world’ producer to his credit disappeared, evidently having realized what academics were long aware of,  that many of their claims were in the realm of science fiction and not science.  The following year, their co-author was ‘outed’ for literary fraud in the New York Times. Both have now been replaced by a North Carolina professor in the Department of Religious Studies, often posing as a noted biblical archaeologist who rose to fame when he testified on behalf of David Koresh (Waco Texas) in congressional hearings three months after the Oklahoma City bombing, which McVeigh carried out in memory of Waco.   Later when confronted by Zias, retired curator of  Israeli archaeology/anthropology  (1972-97) over his questionable scholarship,  he replied , “… when colleagues abandon me for this abuse of archaeology, I’ll laugh all the way to the bank.”


            Due to the unrelenting worldwide criticism of their work within the academic community in  which virtually every film/book has failed, they retaliated by filing a major (nearly $1,000,000 lawsuit) in Israeli courts against the Israeli archaeologist/anthropologist, Joe Zias, in hopes of silencing and censoring him  and other colleagues critical remarks.  These well-known and respected scholarly critics who have dared to challenge these false scientific claims, (i.e. DNA of Jesus and Mary, four tombs of Jesus the last ten years, Jesus Nails, all marketed under the pretext of science) have been labeled as anti-Semitic, threatened with legal action or, in this specific case,  sued for libel and slander. If the academic community  and others caring about science and religion fail to react and support Zias and his colleagues vigorously, the world of science in general and biblical archaeology in particular, can and will be affected. 


            Scholars must be free to criticize those who willfully manipulate, distort, invent, and only occasionally tell some truth.  This is a landmark case.  Academic freedom is as stake. Your contributions are needed to support this effort.  Contact me at joezias@gmail.com for further details in order to contribute to this worthy cause.


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