Saturday, April 30, 2011

Congratulations to Nathan MacDonald and Matthew S. Rindge

CONGRATULATIONS TO NATHAN MACDONALD AND MATTHEW S. RINDGE, this year's winners, respectively, of the the David Noel Freedman Award and the Paul J. Achtemeier Award. Nathan MacDonald is a St. Andrews colleague who is currently on a major fellowship at Göttingen.

SBL announcements (downloadable here):
NATHAN MACDONALD
2011 Freedman Award Recipient

We are pleased to announce that the 2011 David Noel Freedman Award for Excellence and Creativity in Hebrew Bible Scholarship has been awarded to Nathan MacDonald (Theologische Fakultät, Georg-August Universität; and School of Divinity, St. Mary’s College). His paper is entitled, “Ritual Innovation: The Feast of Weeks from the Covenant Code to the Temple Scroll.”

Nathan has published numerous books and articles and has received several prestigious academic awards. He has been a member of SBL since 2005, and he currently serves as an Annual Meeting Program Unit Chair. Please join us in congratulating Nathan for this honor.

The goal of the Freedman Award is to promote excellence and creativity in Hebrew Bible scholarship. The award is given to a member who has completed their doctorate and been in a teaching and/or research position for at least two years and normally no more than ten years. There is a cash award of $1,000.00. Papers for this award are evaluated on the basis of three categories:
  • persuasive thesis that engages the Hebrew Bible,

  • clarity of expression and thought,

  • originality and creativity.
The 2011 award committee is Susan Ackerman (Dartmouth College), Carol Meyers (Duke University), and William H. C. Propp (University of California San Diego).

The call for papers for the 2012 David Noel Freedman Award will open in the Fall 2011.


Matthew S. Rindge
2011 Paul J. Achtemeier Award
for New Testament Scholarship Recipient

We are pleased to announce that the 2011 Paul J. Achtemeier Award for New Testament Scholarship has been awarded to Matthew S. Rindge, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, Gonzaga University. His paper is entitled, “Reconfiguring the Akedah and Lamenting God: Mark’s Theological Narrative of Divine Abandonment.”

Matthew, a member of SBL since 2002, has been teaching at Gonzaga University since 2008, has a strong publishing record, and has received several prestigious academic awards. He currently serves on two SBL Annual Meeting program unit steering committees. Please join us in congratulating him for this honor.

The primary goal of the Achtemeier Award is to stimulate the finest and most penetrating work in New Testament studies. The award is given to a member who has completed their doctorate and been in a teaching and/or research position for at least two years and normally no more than ten years. There is a cash award of $1,000.00. Papers for this award are evaluated on the basis of three categories:
  • persuasive thesis that engages the New Testament,
  • clarity of expression and thought,
  • originality and creativity.
The 2011 Achtemeier Award Committee consisted of Harold W. Attridge (Yale University), Steven J. Friesen (University of Texas at Austin), and Marianne Meye Thompson (Fuller Theological Seminary).

The call for papers for the 2012 Paul J. Achtemeier Award will appear in the Fall 2011.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Recap of the evidence that the metal codices are fakes

FAKE METAL CODICES WATCH: I had hoped this story would die down, but since it is flaring up again, this seems like an opportune moment for a recap of the evidence that the metal codices are fakes.

1. One of them, a copper plate in a codex, has a Greek phrase, badly copied (the writer didn't know alpha from lambda), which phrase makes no sense in context because it was copied from an ancient tomb inscription published by Milik in 1958. The phrase makes sense on the epitaph but not the codex. See here and here.

2. Many (most or all?) of the lead codices share iconographic motifs with the obviously fake copper codex. They are from the same "cache."

Dan MacClellan's conclusions can be applied more widely. Have a look at the large collection of photos here. Look for the star pattern, the marginal dots, the marginal rectangular pattern, the stylized palm tree, the odd paleo-Hebrew script. Are there any readable plates that don't have some of these features? The published photographs show a collection of inscribed plates that share many features and are clearly a single cache to which the one with the fake Greek text belongs.

I do note that in this picture there are two metal plates that look like scrolls rather than codices. Tom Verenna has suggested here that they look like lead curse scrolls. I have not worked with such scrolls myself, and in any case the scrolls are not readable. It is within the bounds of possibility (not probability) that a couple of genuine ancient lead curse scrolls have been mixed into this collection of fakes. I doubt it, but I can't say for sure without good, readable photographs of those particular plates.

With that one caveat, we can say with confidence that the metal codices whose pictures are available thus far are fakes.

Ancillary evidence:

3. In general, the iconography of the codices looks suspiciously like it was taken out of context from ancient resources available today. See here and here.*

4. Including a coin that itself is a modern fake.

5. Steve Caruso has also published script charts on the basis of which he argues that the "Hebrew" script is an odd combination of different Aramaic scripts from different provenances.

6. The "Hebrew" text doesn't make any sense. Code or gibberish? Given the above, I vote for gibberish.

7. I realize that at least some of the metal itself may be ancient, but such metal is available, so, given all of the above, that is not a persuasive argument in favor of genuineness. If some of the metal is ancient, in the highly unlikely and not-yet-argued event that some of it also has ancient markings on it, this in no way obviates the fact that the plates and their inscriptions and iconographic markings as they stand now are fakes.

The metal codices are crude fakes. If the new lot in the hands of the Jordanian Government are from the same cache with the same features, they are fakes too.

Background here etc. etc.


(*One should not make too much of the suspicion that the crocodile mold was made using a modern plastic toy, but it would be interesting to have a look at ancient crocodile iconography to see if the obvious resemblance is a coincidence or not. And to look at modern plastic toy crocodiles to see if one is an exact match to the relief in the plate.)

More on the new Jordanian metal codices

FAKE METAL CODICES WATCH: More on those "ancient manuscripts" recovered in Jordan:
Experts examining 'old Christian' discoveries to determine authenticity

By Taylor Luck
(Jordan Times)

AMMAN - Jordanian antiquities authorities have announced the recovery of several lead-sealed texts which they believe will prove whether a cache of metal books represent the oldest Christian writings ever discovered are authentic or well-crafted forgeries.

According to Department of Antiquities Director Ziad Saad, security services recovered this week several metal books from the local black market belonging to a horde of metal codices which some believe hold the secrets of early Christianity and could soon to be at the heart of an international dispute.

Upon examination, the recently recovered books were deemed to be identical to a set of 70 lead-sealed metal texts currently in the possession of an Israeli bedouin which authorities announced last month were illegally excavated from a cave in northern Jordan a few years ago, Saad said.
If they are identical to that highly publicized cache of metal codices, then they are fakes.
The location of the discovery, a series of caves near the east bank of the River Jordan near the village of Sarhan, and preliminary testing carried out by British experts dating the codices to the early first century AD, have set off speculation amongst the biblical academic community that the lead-sealed texts may be the earliest Christian writings ever discovered.
One British metallurgist has reportedly concluded that the lead of one of the codices is ancient. The study has not been peer reviewed or, indeed, published at all. Ancient lead can be obtained, so, assuming the conclusions are correct, this proves nothing.

Where exactly does this business about these codices being Christian come from? I've seen nothing in the photographs that points clearly to any Christian connection. The earliest media coverage at the beginning of March assumed that, if they were genuine at all, they were Jewish texts. Whose idea was the Christian connection?
Saad stressed that despite the international media attention, the declarations of linguists, archaeologists and religious experts attempting to determine the texts’ authenticity from the limited number of photographs that have so far been released are “premature”.

“There has been a debate all over the net - some think they are fakes, some think they are very genuine - but we have yet to have a definitive conclusion based on a scientific approach,” Saad told The Jordan Times.
It sounds as though Mr. Saad has become aware of certain blog posts and is trying to defuse their implications. This is also known as "digging deeper." Not a single scholar of antiquity has come out in favor of the plates being genuine. Philip Davies seems to think the metal may be ancient and perhaps that not all the markings on it are modern. On the latter point, I am extremely skeptical, but will listen if anyone wants to make a case. I have not heard Margaret Barker say anything since it became clear that one of the codices is a clumsy forgery. Other scholars who have advanced an opinion think they are fakes.
Authorities are set to send the recently recovered books to three separate labs for further analysis - in Britain, the US and at the Royal Scientific Society in Amman - in order to determine if the texts are indeed “the greatest discovery since the Dead Sea scrolls” or little more than sophisticated forgeries.

According to Saad, it will take experts three weeks to complete the tests on the recently recovered texts.

“Our position is quite clear; we need to make sure these pieces are authentic before moving forward with our case,” Saad added.
Are they only testing the metal to see if it's ancient or are they bringing in specialists in ancient Greek and Hebrew paleography and philology and ancient Judeo-Christian iconography as well? If the latter, who are they? If not the latter, then these tests are incomplete and of limited value.
Hassan Saida, the Israeli bedouin farmer who is currently holding the cache at an undisclosed location near his home in the village of Um Al Ghanem, insists that the lead-sealed texts were passed down from his grandfather, who stumbled upon the cache while tending to his flock in northern Jordan in the early 1920s.
That story doesn't hold up. One of the plates copies Greek text from an inscription that was published in 1958.
Saida has dismissed the department’s claims that the books were illegally excavated from Jordan some four years ago as a “publicity stunt”.

“They [the Jordanian Department of Antiquities] are going about making all these claims about these codices and they don’t even know what they are,” Saida told The Jordan Times recently.
That last part is certainly true.
Rather than the records of the earliest Christians, Saida claims he has proof that the books date back even earlier - predating the time of Christ - and are strictly “ancient Hebrew texts” which he intends to place in an Israeli museum.
It just keeps getting better.
The Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA) has previously cast doubt over the books’ authenticity and denied any interest in the texts.

Saad said if the tests due confirm the texts’ authenticity, Jordan will resort to international law to “repatriate” the remaining books across the River Jordan and back to the land where they were uncovered.

In a statement to The Jordan Times, the Israeli embassy in Amman said it has notified the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the IAA’s willingness to discuss the fate of the texts with the Jordanian side.
Mr. Saad is getting way ahead of himself by invoking international law here. He has spent the last month setting himself up to be embarrassed.

Background here etc. etc.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Archaeologists discover Ark of Covenant from coded ancient manuscripts!

PLUS ÇA CHANGE ...
100 Years Ago in the Forward

Reports have surfaced about a group of English archaeologists who have found the ark, the tablets and the menorah from the Second Temple buried in a secret underground location in the Old City of Jerusalem. A Swedish researcher who found a coded message in an ancient manuscript in Constantinople apparently was the one who discovered news of the location. The researcher informed his contacts in England, and they embarked on a project to find them. This secret project entailed getting the Turkish Sultan’s permission, bribing guards and digging an enormous tunnel to the secret location, which is now considered a holy place by Muslims. And when local Muslims discovered that a group of Englishmen tunneled into the area, they rioted and attacked the Turkish governor. But it was apparently too late, as the English had already made off with the goods.
Background (foreground?) here, here, here, here, and here.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Hershel Shanks, 60 Minutes, and a false confession?

HERSHEL SHANKS accuses 60 Minutes of faking a confession by an Egyptian jeweler of forging the Jehoash inscription: First Person: The Lion and the Flea (BAR). Excerpt:
The only thing this article is about is whether 60 Minutes accurately reported what Marco said. Did Marco say that he made things “just like this [the Yehoash Inscription] for Golan.” Or did he say only that he “could” make something just like this, if that’s what his customer wanted?

There is no question that Marco denied to me that he ever said he forged the Yehoash tablet. He was firm and clear, as was his anger at 60 Minutes.
I agree with Hershel that 60 Minutes should release the full transcript of the interview. Heck, they should be willing to release the full videotape. That's just basic journalistic integrity. There's no reason why there needs to be any controversy over what actually happened.

That said, Mr. Marco comes off a little dodgy here even if he is telling the truth about the 60 Minutes interview. So he would be willing to make a Jehoash tablet for a customer, it's just that he didn't do it in this particular case? This is the sort of thing he does as a matter of course? I would like to hear a fuller explanation of what that is about.

Some recent coverage of the Jehoash/Joash inscription is here.

Israel Finkelstein on Jerusalem Archaeology

ARCHAEOLOGIST ISRAEL FINKELSTEIN has an article on the archaeology of Jerusalem in The Forward:
In the Eye of Jerusalem’s Archaeological Storm
The City of David, Beyond the Politics and Propaganda

By Israel Finkelstein
Published April 26, 2011, issue of May 06, 2011.

Archaeological activity in Jerusalem has been sucked into a whirlwind of conflicting political agendas, and the site commonly referred to as “the City of David” is in the eye of the storm. At issue is a place of seminal importance for the Jewish people and indeed for anyone who cherishes the heritage of Western civilization.

When dealing with archaeology in Jerusalem, one must first know the facts. Otherwise it is easy to be led astray by unfounded historical interpretations or to succumb to misinformation from those pursuing their own political agendas.

[...]
All of it is interesting and I'm not going to try to excerpt it further. Just go and read it all.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

More "ancient manuscripts" in Jordan?

MORE METAL CODICES? It just goes on: Jordanian police recover 7 ancient manuscripts (AP).

This is a bewildering announcement by Ziad al-Saad, the director of the Jordanian Department of antiquities, which says that these "manuscripts" (no other description) were taken from "local smugglers." Apparently he associates these with the metal codices (70 manuscripts, possibly "the most significant find in Christian archaeology since the 1947 discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls," whatever that means). The story is not very coherent: the documents were found both by Jordanian archaeologists and then stolen, and then a couple of paragraphs later they were found by a Bedouin.

It sounds as though the Jordanian Government has gotten hold of some possibly ancient "manuscripts" of uncertain nature, but which they seem to be associating with the metal codices and which they are now trying to authenticate. No point in saying more than that until we have more details.

It just had to be seven of seventy manuscripts didn't it? Well didn't it?

HT Joseph Lauer.

Scott J. Hafemann to take up St. Andrews NT post

NEW TESTAMENT APPOINTMENT: I am very happy to announce that Dr. Scott J. Hafemann has been appointed Reader in New Testament Studies at the Divinity School of the University of St. Andrews. He will be taking up his new post in September.

Coptic graffiti by ancient nuns

COPTIC WATCH: Scribbled by a community of nuns – Ancient Coptic graffiti adorns walls of 3,200 year-old Egyptian temple. The graffiti in question are from the fourth century CE. Here is the abstract (booklet downloadable here) of the scholarly paper:
Jennifer Westerfeld (University of Louisville)

Recovering Christian Abydos: Coptic Graffiti from the Temple of Seti I

The temple of Seti I at Abydos was the site of intense epigraphic activity from the Late Period into early Islamic times. A significant corpus of late antique graffiti from the temple appears to have been produced by a community of Coptic nuns who periodically visited the site. Although such a collection of epigraphic evidence for female monastic activity is virtually unparalleled in Egypt, this material has never been fully edited or studied. This paper will discuss a newly-proposed research mission to document the Coptic graffiti at the temple of Seti I, considering in particular the circumstances under which the graffiti were produced and the ways in which the Seti temple functioned within the Christianized landscape of late antique Abydos.
This would be an important source for non-literary early Coptic as well as for the sociology of female Egyptian ascetics in late antiquity. I would love to see what nuns in the fourth century had to say when they wrote graffiti.

KJB@400 in the Daily Mail

KJB@400 WATCH: Historian David Starkey has a cheerleading piece on the King James Bible and its back-story in the Daily Mail: The publishing sensation that made England conquer the world.

Early coins excavated at Khirbet Qeiyafa

MAARIV: Early Coins Found at Khirbet Qeiyafa.

This sounds like an exciting discovery.

A tenth-century-BCE Hebrew(ish) inscription was also discovered at Khirbet Qeiyafa in 2008.

Giants in ancient warfare

WHAT COMES OF THIS: Giants in Ancient Warfare.

Via Rogue Classicism.

For the ancient Book of Giants see here.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Notes on divination technical terminology

SOME NOTES on divination technical terminology by Duane Smith: Divining Balaam: A Problem With Omens.

Sex advice re fallen angels

ASKING THE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS: Deane Galbraith: How Do You Know When You’re Having Sex With a Fallen Angel? Some Handy Hints from a Biblical Scholar. Some of these could double as seduction tips for mortal guys as well.

The subterranean excavations in Jerusalem

THE SUBTERRANEAN EXCAVATIONS IN JERUSALEM are the subject of a long Haaretz article:
Jerusalem's time tunnels

Horizontal excavations throughout the Old City of Jerusalem and Silwan are producing important archaeological discoveries, but opponents charge that they are undermining Palestinian foundations, in more ways than one


By Nir Hasson
The article is clearly suspicious of Elad's funding of the excavations (background here and follow the links), but it does make an effort to interview parties on both sides of the debate.

Some highlights:
After a few dozen meters, the tunnel suddenly drops from street level into the sewer below, which Josephus described. Once work is complete, visitors touring the City of David tunnels will be able to descend beneath the Old City walls and emerge from the ground at the Davidson Center, the archaeological park between just within the Dung Gate, to the immediate southwest of the Temple Mount. In the future, visitors may even be able to enter the Western Wall tunnels and continue all the way to the Via Dolorosa, in the heart of the Muslim Quarter. From there, it is a quick walk to the immense Zedekiah's Cave under the Muslim Quarter buildings. All told, this means that visitors could potentially spend hours on end exploring subterranean Jerusalem from end to end of the ancient city (though not including the Temple Mount), barely seeing the light of day.

The excavation of the extensive network of caves and tunnels below the Western Wall, Silwan and the Muslim Quarter is now nearing completion. The intensive activity has been under way for decades, generally without collaboration between the various agencies involved. Yet despite the lack of a unified policy, critics of the tunnels charge that the excavations have changed the geography and geopolitics of Jerusalem's Holy Basin. The tunnels have created a new Jerusalem, one illuminated by fluorescent bulbs - a Jewish-Israeli expanse devoid of Palestinians and conflicts. Whatever the case may be, it seems that from this point on, anyone who wants to talk about dividing Jerusalem will need two maps, one for above the surface and another for the subterranean.

[...]

The project's critics, mainly members of left-wing groups and independent archaeologists, view the excavations as a right-wing tool. The left argues that the tunnels are physically undermining Palestinian homes in Silwan and the Old City, while politically reinforcing Jewish settlement in the Muslim Quarter and Silwan. Others are concerned that the tunnels could be used by extremists to attack the Muslim shrines on the Temple Mount.

[...]

The most important tunnel excavator in the city's history was the noted British archaeologist Charles Warren. In the 1860s, tunneling was partly necessitated by the need to conceal from the Ottoman authorities some of the work adjacent to - or beneath - the Temple Mount. At the same time, the tunneling was also motivated by a mystical romantic hunt for the treasures of the ancient Israelites' Temple.

The tunneling halted during the British Mandate and Jordanian rule, and was renewed following the Six-Day War. Then, as well, it was the pursuit of Temple treasures that underlay the excavations. The most significant figure in this pursuit was then-Western Wall Rabbi Yehuda Meir Getz. Getz, who had a spiritual, mystical approach to life in general and to the Temple Mount in particular, believed he could find the greatest treasure of them all - the Ark of the Covenant.
Sigh. Of course he did.

By the way, there is an interesting cycle of legends around Zedekiah's Cave. I didn't realize until now that there actually was such a place. I assume it isn't really eighteen miles long (Num. Rab. 2.9).
Archaeologist Dr. Ronny Reich is considered the father of the new tunnels. He and Shukron conducted most of the excavations. Reich was recently appointed chairman of the archaeological advisory council, the supreme professional body of the Antiquities Authority, after which he announced he was retiring from Jerusalem excavations after 40 years.

[...]

"Despite the allegations, we didn't excavate haphazardly," he says. "We decided to do without what we would have found by excavating garbage and mudslides in favor of discoveries whose added value to Jerusalem's history is immeasurably larger. We found that the entire slope is covered with 8 to 10 meters of garbage. The archaeologists who worked here in the past excavated with a bulldozer. We carried out a meticulous excavation; we sampled the dirt. No one has ever done such a scrupulous charting, even those who are criticizing us."

Reich admits that it is not ideal to have a private foundation with a pointed political ideology underwriting the excavation. It would be better if the state itself were to fund it, he says. Yet Elad has never interfered with the scientific work, says Reich.
I could just keep excerpting and commenting, but I'll stop here. Read it all.

Samaritan Passover slide show in JP

THE SAMARITAN PASSOVER is the subject of a brief slide show in the Jerusalem Post/Reuters: Samaritans celebrate Shavuot atop Mt. Gerizim.

Other recent coverage of the Samaritans is noted here and here.

Masada Most Popular Pay-to-Enter Tourist Site

TOURISM REPORT:
Masada Most Popular Pay-to-Enter Tourist Site

by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu (Arutz Sheva)

The ancient Masada Fortress, overlooking the Dead Sea, was the most pay-to-enter popular tourist site last year, topping the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo and the Safari Park in Ramat Gan, adjacent to Tel Aviv.

The most popular tourist site, including those where entry is free, continues to be the Western Wall (Kotel) in Jerusalem.

[...]
Masada was in third place last year.

Review of Hoffman & Cole, Sacred Trash

SACRED TRASH, by Adina Hoffman and Peter Cole, is reviewed by Neal Gendler in the Jewish Chronicle: ‘Sacred Trash’ an engaging read despite ‘design quirks’.

Excerpts:
The combination is a readable, engaging and very edifying 241-page text of varying intensity. The parts about the quest, even something of a race, to find the geniza and bring its contents to England, and about the generations of scholars who discovered and pursued different areas of emphasis, read almost like a novel. But explanations of some of the most significant literary findings are thicker, more like an academic paper. And the authors are casual with precise but unusual words such as agon, vatic and sacredotal.

The result is a lively overview that downshifts for deeper details.

[...]

“Geniza” is the 18th book in the “Jewish Encounters” series, and it has annoying design quirks. One is numbering only right-hand pages. Another, diminishing the useful placement of illustrations on the relevant pages of text, puts the captions in the back of the book. And like its series predecessor, Deborah Lipstadt’s “The Eichmann Trial,” it is not indexed — cheapskate treatment for work of such value.
More reviews here.

Lod Mosaic now in San Francisco

THE LOD MOSAIC is now on display in San Francisco: Large mosaic unearthed in Israel on view at Legion of Honor.

Background here.

Aramaic finds in Saudi Arabia?

ARAMAIC WATCH: Aramaic finds in Saudi Arabia?
Archeological finds announced

(The Saudi)

RIYADH: The Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) has announced a series of discoveries of historical interest made over the last year at sites across the country. An annual report from the SCTA’s Antiquities and Museums Research Center said explorations by a joint Saudi-German team of archeologists at the site of a village in the Tayma region of Tabuk uncovered Aramaic engravings and earthenware pots decorated in the style of similar artifacts found in Madina and usually dated to the second millennium BC.

[...]
The second millennium BCE sounds early for Aramaic inscriptions. If the date is accurate, this would be an extremely important find. I would guess the first half of the first millennium or later to be a more likely date. Perhaps there is an error here or perhaps the pottery and the inscriptions are from different strata

The article also reports on the discovery of Old South Arabian inscriptions and other finds at other sites.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Fake metal codices watch: more from Philip Davies

FAKE METAL CODICES WATCH: Tom Verenna has published a message by Philip Davies on the metal codices. I quote it in part, with my comments:
Ok. Clarification:

‘Authentic’ means they are what they pretend to be. In the context of
a hypothesis tat they are ‘early Christian’ that would mean form the
1st or 2nd century CE. This I doubt, though if the scientific tests
continue to point to this timeframe, at least the metal is that old.
Which does not date the images, some of which are undoubtedly much later.
This in reference to Professor Davies's quoted comment in the Sheffield Telegraph article: "I think some of them may be authentic, and as yet I can’t work out what sort of a hoax they might be."

I think his point here is that the metal used to make the plates may in fact be quite old (as noted already in the earliest media coverage). Such old metal can be scrounged. But everyone is interested in the inscriptions and images, which clearly are modern fakes, so it seems confusing to bring in the word "authentic."

Is the metal of the plates ancient? We are told in that Jewish Chronicle article that Oxford metallurgist Peter Northover has produced a report that "concluded that their [the plates from one of the books] composition was 'consistent with a range of ancient lead,' and that it was clear from the surface corrosion that the book was 'not a recent production'." Until this research has been made available and reviewed by other specialists in ancient metallurgy — preferably by being published in a peer-review journal — I don't think anyone should take it seriously. We have no way of knowing now whether it is being represented accurately in context.

In theory, if the metal is ancient, it could have had some ancient markings on it too, and it seems as though Philip may be hinting that he thinks this to be the case. But I've seen nothing to indicate than any markings on the codices are actually ancient, whereas there is ample evidence that many of them, including all the writing, are fake. If something like this turns out to true, which I doubt very much, the images and writing that have been under discussion will still be fakes, although written on ancient metal with some other markings on it. That is the most generous interpretation I can put on Philip's comments.
What is most curious to me is the trouble taken to bind hundred of
sheets into book forms and stack them in a cave (if this story is
true, of course – the place need proper investigating). What has
really been going on?
I see no reason to believe the cave story without verification by archaeologists that it is the real provenance of the codices. The simplest explanation at the moment is that the cave story is made up.
As I have said ‘forgery’ is not quite the right term for objects that
are not making any claims to be anything. Maybe they are just trying
to look old. But I can’t see that they are more valuable in book form
than as single sheets. And why have they been hawked around museums and not gullible tourists or collectors?
If not "forgery," then at least "fake." (Me, I'll go for "forgery" too.) I don't know what it means to say that the objects are not making any claim to be anything. Producing fakes with fake ancient Greek poached from an ancient inscription, Hebrew lettering in faux ancient scripts, and fake iconography poached from real (and fake!) ancient objects is making an implicit claim that the artifacts are ancient. Since the writing and images are in fact modern, the artifacts are fake, whether or not the metal used to make them is ancient. The Shapira scroll forgeries (bottom of post), for example, made a similar implicit claim to antiquity, but no explicit claim (by, say, including a dated colophon etc.).

That said, Philip is raising some interesting questions about why the codices were made and why they were made in this particular way. As for why they are being hawked the way they are, to paraphrase Robert Heinlein, the answer to a question that begins "Why have they ...?" is frequently "money." The only real information we have right now is that the Elkingtons seem primarily interested in hawking the codices to the media in the hope of making money from a documentary and a book.

I am not implying that they are the forgers; I have no idea who the forger(s) might be. Remember, the forgery could be fifty years old and the motives of the forger(s) long since lost in more recent developments.

If it turns out that the metal is ancient — which, again, remains to be seen — we can only be thankful that the writing and images are such crude fakes. If this had been done by people who knew what they were doing, we might have had a much harder time determining authenticity. Scary thought.

Background here etc. etc.

Happy Easter

HAPPY EASTER to all those celebrating.