Friday, March 01, 2013

Los Lunas inscription again

THE LOS LUNAS INSCRIPTION—a modern forgery of the Decalogue on a stone in New Mexico—has come to the attention of Batya Ungar-Sargon in Tablet Magazine: The Mystery Stone: Does a rock in New Mexico show the Ten Commandments in ancient Hebrew? Harvard professor says yes.

Even the headline is disingenuous and the article isn't much better. Yes, a rock in New Mexico shows the poorly forged Ten Commandments in ancient Hebrew. The Harvard Professor—Robert Pfeiffer—died in 1958 and it is not clear from the coverage here that he said "yes" in the sense of thinking that it was possible that it was an ancient inscription.

This article gathers together some entertaining anecdotes and occasionally some interesting information, but ultimately it tries to find a "debate" where there is none. No epigrapher of ancient Hebrew is willing today to defend the authenticity of the inscription. (James Tabor tried once in a popular article, but this article reports that he has changed his mind.) The evaluation by Comanche Ranch manager Martin Abeita seems to me to have some merit:
It’s a pain in my ass is what it is,” he says. “And it’s a fake. It’s a money-maker for the state.
As usual, if a trained specialist wants to publish an article in a peer-review journal which argues that the stone is really an ancient inscription that shows the presence of pre-Columbian Jews in New Mexico, I would be willing to listen to the argument. But in the meantime, it's a fake.

Earlier posts involving the Los Lunas inscription (including a link to Tabor's article mentioned above) are here, here, here, and here.