Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Fake metal codices update

FAKE METAL CODICES UPDATE: The latest media dupes include:
Other recent blog reactions are also gathered by James McGrath here and here. And Tom Verenna flags some interesting gossip from MEMRI.

Unless the media can be interested in the truth, i.e. that the metal plates are forgeries (and efforts are being made to get their attention), this story is running out of steam fast.

UPDATE: Maybe not. Dan McClellan notes (on a bibliobloggers list devoted to the subject) that Peter Thonemann has published an article on the metal codices in the Times Literary Supplement:
The Messiah codex decoded

Are the lead tablets discovered in a Jordanian cave the ancient Christian codices mentioned in the Bible - or the "gibberish-inscriptions" of a modern forger from Amman?
If you guessed "forger" you got the answer right. The article summarizes Dr. Thonemann's statement on the codices. He also chides the media for their carelessness, more gently than I would:
One can hardly blame the newspapers: no editor could reasonably be expected to resist the combination of Jesus, the Kabbalah, mysterious death threats and a secret code. But it is a bit depressing that no one thought to consult any one of the dozens of British specialists in the field. As the Jewish Chronicle made clear when it originally reported on the find back in early March, those professional scholars who have had sight of these objects have dismissed them as obvious fakes. There are various reasons why we bother to fund research in the arts and humanities and this episode could have been one of them.
This is the first major media outlet that has published the correct story on the codices — five days after Daniel Petersen and I published it on our blogs. Let's hope the rest of the media will want to play catch-up with the Times.

UPDATE: Jamie Hall has an interesting post at the Primitive Method blog (which deals with "old techniques of jewellery making"): Lead Codices from Jordan: Some notes on manufacture. In an e-mail to me, he summarizes:
"After some discussion, it seems clear that lead pages would have to be made by centrifugal casting, or by a high-impact stamping process, neither of which were available in the pre-modern era. If the codices were made of harder metals, like copper or iron, then the issue becomes even more evident.

If you were making a metal book during any era, you would hammer sheet thin enough, and then impress it with a stylus. Lead would be easiest by a long way. Relief decoration would be a technically challenging way to make the books."
In the post itself, though, he explicitly refrains from drawing conclusions about the age of the plates.