Wednesday, February 13, 2019

More Aramaic books seized in Turkey

HERE WE GO AGAIN: 4 Ancient Assyrian Books Depicting Life of Jesus Seized in Turkey (Daily Sabah via AINA).
Turkish police have seized four invaluable ancient books written in Syriac and Aramaic, including one depicting the life of Jesus Christ.

Anti-smuggling police teams carried out an operation in southwestern Denizli province upon receiving intelligence that smugglers were planning to sell the ancient books.

Written on papyrus, the leather bound books are thought to be over 1,000 years old and were smuggled from the Middle East.

There is a low quality photo of the covers of the four books. They have decorations in gold leaf and they look similar to other recent objects emerging in Turkey (here and here - as noted, the former is a fake).

One of the four new books seems to have writing on it, but it's too small for me to read.

My guess is that they are modern fakes or modern or early modern devotional objects. They do not look a thousand years old to me. But any definitive conclusions about them would require an art historian (I am not one) and/or better photos.

In recent years many such objects have been seized from smugglers in Turkey. Mostly we hear nothing more about them, although in a few cases the information presented was enough for specialists working from the photos to figure out what they are. None have turned out to be ancient or of any great interest. For details, see here and follow the many links.

I always like to underline my appreciation of the work of the Turkish police in disrupting smuggling networks. I only wish the media were as diligent about careful and cautious coverage of what is seized from the smugglers.

UPDATE: I should also mention this post as potentially relevant: Hebrew forgeries from Arab countries.

UPDATE (14 February): More here. At least one of the books is a fake.

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