Saturday, March 31, 2012

Israel Forgery Trial background

ODED GOLAN is interviewed by Nir Hasson in Haaretz: Israeli antiquities collector talks about his trial – and his acquittal. It also has lots of interesting background on the story. For example:
One of the most interesting sections in the ruling deals not with an artifact itself but with a black-and-white photo from the 1970s, taken in the home of Golan’s parents. Three shelves are visible in the picture: On the first are some books and a photograph of a young woman; on the second shelf, some ancient pottery vessels; and on the bottom shelf, the above-mentioned, now-famous James ossuary with the inscription in Aramaic, “Yaakov Bar Yosef, ahui diyeshua.”

The photo seemingly contradicts the prosecution’s claim that Golan had acquired the ossuary only after the turn of the millennium and took steps to forge the inscription on it. According to the state, a person who had developed extraordinary skill in forging ancient Hebrew inscriptions from the 9th century B.C.E. would have no trouble also forging a photograph from the 1970s.
Apparently quite a bit of effort was expended on both sides to establish that the photograph was either a fake or genuine. Golan even tracked down the woman, who was a former girlfriend, who then testified on his behalf.

Then this:
According to him, he and collectors like him rescue antiquities that otherwise would have been sold abroad. He is frustrated because most archaeological researchers ignore finds that were not discovered in a proper, organized excavation, on the grounds they cannot be authenticated or ascribed to a context. At the Israel Antiquities Authority, they also say that the collectors’ activity encourages robber excavations and the illegal trade in antiquities.
Also, there is good reason to suspect that many unprovenanced artifacts are fakes, and unfortunately it is often impossible to be sure in individual cases. (See here for more discussion and links.)

And this:
According to Golan, the community of antiquities collectors constitutes a very limited group of knowledgeable individuals, all of whom are experts, to whom it is not easy to sell fakes. He also mentions the absence of any logic in the forgery of which he was accused in the case of the Jehoash tablet.

“I said during the investigation that even if I had intended to make forgeries, I definitely wouldn’t have written 200 letters [of the alphabet], in which you can make mistakes in syntax and shape, and all this on stone that’s going to break,” he asserts. “If I were to forge, I’d make do with writing: ‘The Temple, entrance here.’ And if I’ve already written ‘brother of Jesus,’ wouldn’t it have been logical to add ‘of Nazareth’? Without that, it all remains in the realm of fantasy.”
On the first point, in other words someone got cocky and it didn't work. (I'm not saying Golan was the forger; he may have bought it in all innocence. But I do think it was forged.) On the second, adding only "the brother of Jesus" would leave just the right level of ambiguity to make the inscription more of a tease and somewhat more believable. Adding "of Nazareth" could have been too perfect.

Endless background to the forgery trial is here and here and links.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Saving Syriac

AINA: Saving Endangered Languages.
As part of the Spring 2012 World Policy Journal issue Speaking in Tongues, we invited acclaimed Lebanese singer Ghada Shbeir to write for The Big Question about the importance of keeping endangered languages alive. Shbeir writes and sings in the ancient language of Syriac, drawing attention to the beauty of the endangered Aramaic dialect that originated in the Mesopotamian city of Edessa, which now lies in Turkey. Syriac was the lingua franca of much of the Middle East from about the 7th century BC until the 7th century AD, when Arabic pushed the language to obscurity. After persecution of Syriac speakers in Ottoman Turkey during the 1890s and in the period of 1922-1925, the cities of Edessa and Diyarbakir in southeast Turkey, home to major Syriac populations, were abandoned. Some Syriacs stayed in the region of Tur Abdin, while many fled to neighboring countries like Syria and Lebanon in the late 19th and early 20th century or later immigrated to the West. Shbier is one of the last artists innovating and pushing the rich Syriac language forward, creating new and beautiful language in Christianity's ancient tongue. Shbier's short piece is a call to arms to preserve languages on the brink of disappearing.
Not to be too picky, but it's Aramaic (the diplomatic dialect of the Persian empire) that was the lingua franca of the Middle East in the-mid first millennium BCE. It was displaced as a diplomatic language by Greek after Alexander's conquest, but was still spoken very widely in the area for centuries. Syriac, as the article notes, started as the Aramaic dialect spoken in the Anatolian city of Edessa, but became the main language of Eastern Christianity.

Also, an excerpt from Shbier's statement:
What is being done to sustain the remains of a language that has made such tremendous contributions to world literature? After hundreds of years with fewer and fewer speakers, those familiar with the Syriac language are still fighting to keep it alive by preserving and expanding its dictionaries and grammar books. And, as one of the few remaining believers in Syriac, I am contributing to the spread of this historical language in every possible way by writing texts and manuscripts that I record on CD. As a musician, I use Syriac's unique and complex sounds to create a new way of singing in Arabic. In order to do so, I drew from famous and great works of ancient Syriac writers, such as father Mar Evram. All these efforts seek to ensure that Syriac is passed on from one generation to the other in a truthful and authentic way.
Strength to her arm.

The Talmud in Arabic

Jordan group translates Babylonian Talmud to Arabic

By JEREMY SHARON (Jerusalem Post)
03/28/2012 22:54

Israeli experts: Tractates often used to show Jewish "intolerance."

A think tank on Middle East affairs in Jordan has for the first time published a translation of the Babylonian Talmud in Arabic.

Middle East Studies Center based in Amman produced the 20-volume work, which took six years to complete and is the labor of 95 translators, language experts and editors.

The center’s director Jawad Ahmad refused to speak about the project with The Jerusalem Post and a member of the staff said that Ahmad would not speak with the Israeli press.

Information on the project available on the think tank’s website describes the Babylonian Talmud as “the most important work of historical Judaism and its religious teachings and theories of Jewish groups.” The center took on the Arabic translation of the Babylonian Talmud, it says, to understand the religious and philosophical roots and thought of the Orthodox Jewish mentality and will “open broad horizons for academic researchers to understand Jewish religious thought and to understand its ramifications throughout history.”

According to Dr. Mordechai Kedar, director of a new center for Middle East and Islamic Studies at Bar-Ilan University and an expert in Arabic literature and Middle East affairs, the Talmud is usually portrayed very negatively in the Muslim and Arab world.

“I doubt this new translation was done out of the goodness of their heart,” he told The Jerusalem Post. “The Muslim world generally looks upon the Talmud as a kind of prototype for the Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” Kedar said in reference to the early 20th century fabrication purporting to contain Jewish plans for world domination.

I agree that there are precedents that raise potential concerns, and the petty refusal of the center to speak with Israeli journalists is not encouraging. I have discussed the problem of "Talmud libel" here and links. But all that said, Talmud libel depends on selective quotation out of context, and indeed quotations from made-up, spurious sources. To translate the whole Talmud for the purpose of Talmud libel would not only be ridiculous overkill, it would be counterproductive, since it would allow readers to evaluate quotations in context and verify sources. So I think there is good reason to give this translation the benefit of the doubt and not to assume bad motives on the part of the translators. Assuming it has been done accurately, I think the translation of the entire Talmud into Arabic is a welcome development and I hope it is widely read.

For another attempt at a ("Zionist") translation of the Talmud into Arabic about a century ago, see here.

Karaite Passover

THE KARAITES ARE ALIVE AND WELL and living, inter alia, in California.
Karaites celebrate Passover strictly from Torah

by faith kramer, j. correspondent (

On the first night of Passover, more than 200 families in the Bay Area will share some ancient seder traditions and foods that would be unfamiliar to Jews raised with the four questions and sweet haroset.

That’s because the Bay Area is home to the largest enclave of Karaite Jews in the United States. A sect with roots that go back to the eighth century, Karaite Judaism derives its practices strictly from what is in the written Torah and not from the Talmud or other rabbinic traditions.

Some earlier posts on the Karaites are here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Sensual mysticism in the Hekhalot Rabbati

JARED CALAWAY revives his Daily Hekhalot series and combines it this time with his more recent series on mysticism and the senses: God and the Senses (2): Hekhalot Rabbati §§163-164.
Nonetheless, this hymn stands out as a highly sensual account of the relationship between God and Israel as lovers who embrace during the recitation of the Qedushah: firstly flashing flirting eyes to each other as they recite, then smelling, and finally touching and embracing.
This reminds me of another passage in the Hekhalot Rabbati which involves God flirting, dancing with, and embracing the (female) living creatures who normally form part of the base of his throne. I have translated it here. That translation is a draft from my translation of the Hekhalot Rabbati, which is now nearing completion. You can find another draft excerpt by following the link here. Both passages have undergone some revision in the final version.

New book: Khan, A Short Introduction to the Tiberian Masoretic Bible

Gorgias Press is pleased to announce the following publication by Geoffrey Khan

Title: A Short Introduction to the Tiberian Masoretic Bible and its Reading Tradition
Price: $39.00
Series: Gorgias Handbooks 25
ISBN: 978-1-4632-0166-1
Language: English
Format: Paperback, Black, 6 x 9 in, 134 pp.

This book is intended to provide a quick introductory overview of the Tiberian Masoretic tradition of the Hebrew Bible and its background. It was this tradition that produced the great Masoretic codices of the Middle Ages, which form the basis of modern printed editions of the Hebrew Bible. The presentation gives particular prominence to the multi-layered nature of the Masoretic tradition. These layers include the various components of the written text surviving in the medieval Masoretic manuscripts as well as the reading tradition that was transmitted orally in the Middle Ages. Particular attention is given to the Tiberian reading tradition. Much of our current knowledge of this reading tradition, which is essential for a correct understanding of the Tiberian vocalization system, derives from recently discovered medieval sources and has not been incorporated so far into the standard textbooks of Biblical Hebrew used by students.

Geoffrey Khan has recently been elected 'Regius Professor of Hebrew' at the University of Cambridge. He was elected Fellow of the British Academy in 1998 and Honorary Fellow of the Academy of the Hebrew Language in 2011. In 2004 he was awarded the Lidzbarski Gold Medal for Semitic Philology.
Follow the link to the Hugoye post for further details.

I didn't know there was a Lidzbarski Gold Medal for Semitic Philology. Cool.

A Golem Seder in Philly

A NEW GOLEM PRODUCTION is coming to Philadelphia for Passover:
The Golem at Your Seder?

March 28, 2012 - Michael Elkin, Arts & Entertainment Editor (Jewish Exponent)

Now this is one big matzah ball hanging out there.

The Golem is the monster mash of all monster tales, a mythological Jewish figure centuries old -- with actual origins extending some 2,000 years -- whose mud makeup was only missing a cucumber or two to qualify him as progenitor of the modern-day spa master.

Built as a protector of the Jewish people against blood libel accusations by a renegade rabbi (by one account), he is now being reconstructed in a world premiere by EgoPo Classic Theatre (, starting March 29 and running to April 15 at the Prince Music Theater in Center City.


Why is this Golem different from all other Golems?

Most other Golems choose just one of the versions from history. EgoPo's Golem is a fusion of the entire history of Golem myths going back more than 500 years. Our theatrical version deals with the cultural, spiritual and artistic history of Jewish life in Europe. It is told by a group of Philadelphia's top actors and uses a host of theatrical forms from klezmer to Czech puppetry to live action. Our story is a deep investigation into the uneasy relationship between Judaism and power.

Each performance is preceded by a seder.

Many more Golem posts here and links.

Elad wins court case

ELAD has won a court case regarding the City of David archaeological park:
Israel’s Supreme Court upholds privatisation of archaeological park
The Jewish organisation running the City of David site has been accused of marginalising its Arab residents

By Lauren Gelfond Feldinger. Web only (The Art Newspaper)
Published online: 28 March 2012

Israel’s Supreme Court rejected on 26 March a petition questioning the legality of management at the City of David archaeological park. The site, a few meters outside Jerusalem’s Old City walls, has been run by Elad under contract with the National Parks Authority. Elad is the first private organisation in Israel to fund and oversee an antiquities site in an Arab neighbourhood, while also settling Jewish residents there.

The petition, by the group Ir Amim, says that operations of national parks should not be in private hands, especially of an organisation with political mandates that are at odds with local residents. Since the ruling, which ends a three-year legal skirmish, Ir Amim has already begun working on a new petition to the court, requesting that the National Parks Authority publish the bids for the contract to run the site.

Background on Elad is here and many links.

Fulbright DSS award

CONGRATULATIONS to Justin Pannkuk:
Pannkuk receives Fulbright Fellowship to study overseas

March 29, 2012
The Daily Freeman Journal

ORANGE CITY - Justin Pannkuk, a 2009 religion graduate of Northwestern College, has received a Fulbright Fellowship to study the Dead Sea Scrolls at the University of Gttingen in Germany during the 201213 academic year, according to the United States Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

He plans to use the database of Dead Sea Scrolls information at Gttingen to conduct research on the relationship between the Hebrew and Aramaic materials found among the Scrolls. His research will be overseen by Dr. Reinhard Kratz, director of both the Qumran Research Institute and the Centre for Ancient and Oriental Studies. Pannkuk also will work with Dr. Annette Steudel, leader of the Qumran-Lexicon research unit; Dr. Ingo Kottsieper, an Aramaist; and Dr. Noam Mizrahi, a Hebraist.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Around the Biblioblogosphere

SOME BIBLIOBLOGOSPHERIC POSTS that I have been meaning to get to:

The Talmud Blog: Otzar Ha-Geonim He-Hadash- Review by Yosaif Mordechai Dubovick.

Rogue Classicism: Blogosphere ~ Defining Ancient Magic: A Brief Historiography and Exploration.

Larry Hurtado: Graffiti and Roman Literacy.

Apocryphicity: Alphonse Mingana on the Study of the Apocrypha (1927).

ETC: Review of Schüssler, Biblia Coptica: Die koptischen Bibeltexte 4.3

Abnormal Interests: Poster Presentations And Biblical Studies Conferences.

Bible Places Blog: The Green Collection.

Robert Cargill: dr. jacob wright comments about the cyrus cylinder in the huffington post.

Lootbusters: Reported Missing by Turkey: Syriac Orpheus Mosaics.

There's more, but I'm saving some because I want to take time later to comment on them.

Elaine Pagels interviewed

ELAINE PAGELS is interviewed by Wil Gafney in Religion Dispatches Magazine: Fight the Power: How to Read, and Re-Read, the Book of Revelation. A conversation with Elaine Pagels. It's an interesting read, despite all the typos. Excerpt:
Since prophecy is an interpretative practice and the text of Revelation is so polyvalent, are there any readings of revelation that are out of bounds?

Well the question is, who sets the bounds? For many groups, people will say, well the way we read it is the only right way. But I would start to look at the whole history of this book, and how it has lived beyond the context in which John wrote it (the Jewish war against Rome and the world that in which he and the Jewish people were suffering under Roman oppression). I found it most useful to look at as many interpretations as we find.
Background (on her new book, Revelations) here and links.

Duke research fellowship

H-JUDAIC: Research Fellowships in Jewish Studies and Hebrew Bible at Duke University
The David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library and the Center for Jewish Studies are pleased to announce the availability of new fellowships to support scholars, students, and independent researchers whose work would benefit from access to the Judaica materials held by the Rubenstein Library, the Duke Divinity School Library, and/or Perkins Library. Applicants must live outside of a 100-mile radius from Durham, NC. Grants must be used between July 1, 2012 and June 30, 2013 Grant recipients will receive up to $1500 per week for funding, plus airfare Grant recipients will be required to submit a research report, either verbally via an informal luncheon colloquia or via written report.
Follow the link for application details.

Article on Judean coin auction

Collectors Bid for Million-Dollar Shekel
Silver Coin from First Revolt Grabs Spotlight at Auction

By Lisa Amand
Published March 27, 2012, issue of March 30, 2012.

It was a single silver shekel that stole the spotlight at a recent New York coin auction. Its gavel price: $1.1 million.

Back in the day, the shekel might have represented four days of a soldier’s pay. But that was 66 C.E., during a bloody and doomed fight to the death by Jewish nationalists against their Roman overlords. On March 9, under the chandeliers and oil portraits of the Fletcher-Sinclair House, on Manhattan’s tony Upper East Side, this piece was just one of a trove of Roman era Judean coins eyed by a mix of numismatists, some in suits with deep pockets and others in jeans, at one of the largest auctions of coins from that era ever held.

This was an auction at which sela’im and zuzim­ — the equivalent of pocket change in Roman times — made a name for themselves. The event, sponsored by Heritage Auctions, a major house for ancient collectibles, also featured 260 silver-and-bronze pieces from the Bar Kokhba Revolt, a later, separate anti-Roman rebellion that broke out in 132 C.E. Several of those pieces fetched record-breaking amounts topping $100,000. Aficionados armed with loupes and credit cards, looking to start or complete a collection, converged on the turn-of-the-century mansion to pore over the bounty.

Background here and links.

New book: Patmore, Adam, Satan, and the King of Tyre

Adam, Satan, and the King of Tyre
The Interpretation of Ezekiel 28:11-19 in Late Antiquity

Hector M. Patmore, Protestant Theological University of the Netherlands

The oracle against the King of Tyre, found in Ezekiel 28.12-19, is a difficult text that inspired diverse interpretations in Late Antiquity. For example, according to one rabbinic tradition the text spoke of the first man, Adam, while the Church Fathers found in the same text a description of the fall of Satan. This book studies the rabbinic sources, patristic literature, the Targum, and the ancient translations, and seeks to understand the reasons for the diverse interpretation, the interaction between the exegetical traditions and the communities of interpreters, in particular between Jews and Christians, and the effect the specific form and wording of the text had on the formation and development of each interpretation.
(HT Viv Rowett on the SOTS list.)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Mysticism and the senses (continued)

MORE FROM JARED CALAWAY: God and the Senses (General Suggestions) (Antiquitopia).

Background here.

New book: Mahieu, Between Rome and Jerusalem

Between Rome and Jerusalem: Herod the Great and His Sons in Their Struggle for Recognition
A Chronological Investigation of the Period 40 BC - 39 AD, with a Time Setting of New Testament Events

Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta, 208

Mahieu B.

Year: 2012
ISBN: 978-90-429-2497-0
Pages: XXXVIII-668 p.
Price: 96 EURO

The present study proposes a challenging new chronological framework for the Herodian age, a critical period in Jewish history. Not only do the rules of Herod the Great and his sons receive altered time settings, but the birth and death of Jesus are also placed several years later than is generally accepted. As a consequence of this the dates of Paul’s apostolate are reexamined. Ostensibly narrow in scope, these modifications entail far-reaching implications for our understanding of the Syro-Palestinian region at the beginning of the present era. Interconnections between numerous events are established and tensions within and between the Herodian and Hasmonean dynasties are laid bare. It is shown that Roman impact on the East was substantial, with a strong Hellenistic influence exerted on local cultures. Several customs of the Jewish and early Christian communities, hitherto unknown, are also brought to light. Both in its details and in its overall sweep this important work sets up a stimulating reference point for future historical investigations of the Herodian and New Testament worlds.
Again, HT Christopher Rollston on FB.

New book: Zuckerman Festschrift

CONGRATULATIONS TO BRUCE ZUCKERMAN, for whom a Festscrift is now in press with Brill:
Puzzling Out the Past
Studies in Northwest Semitic Languages and Literatures in Honor of Bruce Zuckerman

Edited by Marilyn J. Lundberg, Steven Fine, and Wayne T. Pitard

Bruce Zuckerman has transformed the way we look at ancient Semitic inscriptions. Through his efforts, the most important inscriptions of biblical times have been reread and the history of the biblical and Second Temple periods reimagined. He has made contributions to the fields of biblical studies and modern Judaism, and, in founding Maarav: A Journal for the Study of the Northwest Semitic Languages and Literatures, has made the research of many scholars available to the scholarly community. The series of articles included here honor his many contributions through discussions of a wide variety of inscriptional materials, Biblical texts, archaeology, lexicography and teaching methodology. Included in the volume is a republication of his path breaking exhibition catalogue, Puzzling Out the Past.
More on Professor Zuckerman here and many links.

I was the first research assistant for the West Semitic Research Project and I also worked as editorial assistant for Maarav for a while.

HT Christopher Rollston on FB.

Easter articles (archaeology, crucifixion, etc.)

EASTER IS COMING, and the pre-Easter articles are coming in too.

First, Craig Evans gives a preview of his new book in his Huffington Post post: The Archaeological Evidence For Jesus (PHOTOS). As you might guess from the title, the post includes lots of nice photos.

The Jesus Discovery/Talpiot (Talpiyot) Tombs controversy also comes up.

Second, Matti Friedman has a piece in The Times of Israel on the crucified man (also mentioned by Evans): In a stone box, the only trace of crucifixion: An ossuary at the Israel Museum contains the sole physical evidence ever found for the Roman practice of execution on the cross. Excerpt:
After Yehohanan’s body was removed from the cross, it would have been laid out in a burial cave. After the flesh had decomposed a year or so later, leaving only the skeleton, his bones were gathered in a simple stone box, an ossuary, in keeping with the Jewish practice of that time. Today, the box is displayed in a gallery at the Israel Museum alongside other artifacts from the period of Roman rule in Judea.

His name is inscribed in simple letters on one side: Yehohanan, son of Hagakol. (Some scholars, interpreting the letters differently, believe the second name is Hezkil.)

Inside the box, archaeologists found a heel bone with an iron stake driven through it, indicating that the occupant of the ossuary had been nailed to a cross.

The position of the stake was evidence of a crucifixion technique that had not previously been known, according to museum curator David Mevorah. In the image of crucifixion made famous by Christian iconography, Jesus is pictured with both feet nailed to the front of the vertical beam of the cross. But this man’s feet had been affixed to the sides of the beam with nails hammered separately through each heel.

His hands showed no sign of wounds, indicating that they had been tied, rather than nailed, to the horizontal bar.
Professor Evans's book is Jesus and His World: The Archaeological Evidence (WJK, hot off the press).

Background on the crucified man and related matters is here.

As for the Talpiot Tombs, I haven't been paying too much attention, but here's an update from the indefatigable James McGrath from a couple of days ago: Talpiot Photos and a Video that may Change your Perspective. And add to it Antonio Lombatti, Observations on the “Jonah” Iconography on the Ossuary of Talpiot B Tomb (Bible and Interpretation). And earlier background is here.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Secret Mark book in press

GOOD NEWS FROM TONY BURKE: Secret Mark Symposium Papers At Press.

Background on the 2011 York Symposium on Secret Mark is here and here and links.

Interview with Joseph Cedar's father

PROF. HAYIM CEDAR—renowned geneticist and also father of Joseph Cedar, the director of Footnote—is interviewed by Nir Hasson in Haaretz:
The apple doesn't fall far from the Cedar tree

Prof. Haim Cedar explains his field of genetic research by means of terms used by the Talmud researchers portrayed in the Academy Award-nominated film made by his son, Joseph Cedar: text and footnotes.
Guess what? Prof. Cedar is nothing like Eliezer Shkolnik.

Another important difference is that Cedar, like the younger scholar in “Footnote,” Uriel Shkolnik, invests great effort in bringing his research to the general public. In recent years he has been teaching a course in molecular biology for humanities students at Hebrew University. He is also currently participating in a university project designed to bring academia and the public closer, called “Professor in Slippers.” Furthermore, in his own home, Cedar hosts a not-for-credit course, entitled “Life’s Footnote.” In this lecture series he tries to explain his scientific work by means of terms used by the Talmud researchers in the film directed by his son: “text” and “footnotes.”
Background on Footnote is here with many links.

More commentary on the forgery trial verdicts

NINA BURLEIGH gives her take on the Israel forgery trial acquittal in the LA Times: Faith, forgery, science -- and the James Ossuary: The particulars of science matter little to zealots defending a creed. Excerpt:
Israeli prosecutors were badly underfunded (the nation has its eye on bigger problems than relic forgery), and its investigators never mounted the kind of international, follow-the-money detective work that would have bolstered their case by showing a pattern of criminality involving a number of lesser-known objects that were also part of the case — allegedly ancient lamps and Old Testament-era royal seal impressions that scientists said were fakes.

Prosecutors relied on a parade of archaeologists and other scholars. These men and women were accustomed to addressing respectful colleagues and students. They had no experience defending their conclusions against the highest-paid lawyers in Tel Aviv.

Like scholars and scientists everywhere, their work doesn't reach a level of precision that can withstand legal cross-examination. They acknowledge doubts. Their opinions don't always agree in the particulars, even when they arrive at a consensus.

And while the scientists for the state conducted their investigations and testified for free, the defense paid for-hire scientists, who were willing to say the objects at issue were entirely authentic.
Background here and here and links. And more from and in response to Nina Burleigh here and links.

Sunday, March 25, 2012 on antiquities and a fake

CRACKED.COM: 6 Nobodies Who Stumbled Into World Changing Discoveries. Five major archaeological discoveries and one bogosity. On the Dead Sea Scrolls:
To this day, the goat herders who found the things probably still think the guy who bought them was a sucker for forking over 30 bucks.
Actually, they figured thirty bucks was thirty bucks, so they went back to the site and found more caves with more scrolls and then cashed in bigtime.

On the fake metal codices:
Oh, and then there are some scholars who think that the real reason we can't translate them is because they are bulls**t forgeries written by someone who didn't understand much about the language they were trying to imitate. But as usual, we are reserving hope that there's a little bit of Indiana Jones magic in this world. In the meantime, we're heading to the Middle East, and we're bringing our cave-diving equipment.
Yeah, good luck with that.

Very amusing piece that also covers Pompeii, the Venus de Milo, Otzi, and the recovery of Aeschylus's Achilles stuffed in a mummy. But, as usual with Cracked, if you are easily offended by crudities, you may wish to skip it.

(HT The Jordan Lead Codices are fake FB page.)