Friday, June 12, 2015

On ISIS selling "ancient" artifacts

PLUNDER: ISIS sells priceless ancient artifacts on FACEBOOK: Gold statues, scrolls written in Aramaic and coins up to 10,000 years old being peddled online by terror group
  • Facebook has removed pages that were flagged for reportedly selling artifacts stolen by ISIS
  • Among the goods being offered were golden statues, scrolls written in both Hebrew and Aramaic, clay tablets, and ancient coins
  • The terrorist organization is believed to be using middlemen to sell the artifacts they plunder, and have made up to $100million
(CHRIS SPARGO, Daily Mail)

On the one hand, this is bad. On the other, there is a certain amount of garbling here: coins were only invented around twenty-five hundred years ago, so ten-thousand-year-old coins would be pretty scarce. All of the artifacts pictured in the article look modern to me (i.e., produced within the last few hundred years and maybe quite recently), although I am not a numismatist or an expert on gold statues.

There are two Hebrew scrolls. The script looks modern in both cases and it may be relevant that a Syriac manuscript in gold lettering has come up in the news in recent years and seems to be early modern to modern. That said, here is a report of a ninth-century Latin manuscript also written in gold lettering, so this is an old custom. But that said, Steve Caruso keeps better track of these things than I do, and he has seen a number of what he regards to be modern forgeries of Hebrew and Syriac manuscripts in gold lettering in recent years.

I do not think these Hebrew manuscripts are very old.

It looks like ISIS is looting modern artifacts too and selling them, and that some of these are being taken to be ancient. Some may even be forgeries. All in all it's a bad business.

Related post here.