Friday, September 23, 2016

The Los Lunas inscription, once more

NEW WORLD FORGERY WATCH: Oldest Paleo-Hebrew Ten Commandments Found Where?! (Tsivya Fox, Breaking Israel News).
It may surprise many people to learn that the oldest known Ten Commandments written in Hebrew on stone may not be in the Holy Land, but in America. The controversial carving resides west of Los Lunas, New Mexico at the bottom of a place called Hidden Mountain. Named the Los Lunas Decalogue Stone, it is also known as “Mystery Stone”, “Phoenician Inscription Rock”, or “Mystery Rock”. It contains the text of the Ten Commandments written in ancient Paleo-Hebrew.

Here we go again. The Los Lunas inscription forgery shows up in the media every few years. I replied to pretty much the same set of claims a few years ago here. If I may quote myself:
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 [earlier] 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.)
Further detail there. And as always, let me reiterate this:
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.
Follow that link for additional past posts on the subject. In particular, in this post I mentioned that the late Cyrus Gordon argued that the inscription was a genuine late antique (Samaritan) artifact. The 1995 article was in the Japanese (English-language) journal Orient and you can download it for free here. You can read his discussion of the New World inscriptions, including the Los Lunas inscription, in the first several pages. No real case is made. By real case I mean a serious, detailed paleographic and orthographic analysis. If someone wants to do that and to get it published in a peer-review journal, there would be a case to consider. There isn't now. My past posts on the Los Lunas inscription also deal with the Bat Creek stone inscription and the Newark Stones.