Shortly after beginning my coverage of the Jordan Lead Codices topic on my blog, a comment appeared on this post from someone identifying themselves as Ilan Shibli and purporting to be one of the Bedouins involved with the original acquisition of the codices. He stated:
The Books were orginally “discovered ” by a Bedouin from Shibli who worked with Hassan Saida. He bought them from a Jordanian Taxi Driver he was friendly with. Later the two Bedouins Paid vast sums of money to Elkington and Feather and the like to get the works authenticated. During this time not one of them tried to hand the works to any authority. On the contrary they obtained an export license under false pretences. ( the books already being in Europe) When a dead end was reached and not willing to hand over more money to the publicity seeking Elkington the Bedouins stopped all contact and hence his own campaign ” to do the right thing started” He was NEVER THREATENED! just IGNORED
many serious far more discreet scholars have seen the works and the real finder and owner is more than happy to supply photos free of charge and to be interviewed.
There is NO secret or conspiracy
The books ( and there are not 70!) are made of ancient metal and what is of interest more than content is the fact they ARE ONE OF THE FIRST BOOKS TO BE PRINTED
I’ve been in sporadic contact with this person since then. He appears to claim to be located in Israel, although his IP information (which is not always perfectly accurate) locates him in Great Britain, and some of his emails have come from a Blackberry. I asked for evidence that he had access to codices that were not already accessible online. He sent along, over the course of several days, the following photos (all of which are to be credited to Ilan Shibli):
These photos give us a much better look at the script used on the codices. For the best analysis of that script see Steve Caruso’s blog, especially this post. I’ve already discussed the iconography of the lower register in the first photograph (here), but the iconography in the upper register is also found scattered among a bunch of other plates. See the following, for instance:
This is obviously another cast image that was reused on a number of plates. The writing below the menorah in the image is meaningless, as far as I can tell. That the images on these plates are modern productions is, in my opinion, pretty much beyond dispute. Dr. Northover’s analysis supports an ancient provenance for the lead, but as others have pointed out, and as he stated in a note to me, there is quite a bit of ancient lead lying around, and the composition of the lead does not necessarily indicate the antiquity of the codices.
(Elkington is offering a number of other photos for purchase on various websites around the world. Some of the sites offer bigger preview photos than others. Some of the higher quality previews are available here.)
Back to Mr. Shibli. I later sent a few questions to help clarify some of the background of the codices. Following are my questions:
– How did you originally come to possess the codices, and were you told where they came from?– When and how did Mr. Elkington become involved?– Did you give Elkington any or all of the codices, and if so, how long did he have them?– Did Elkington arrange for the metallographic analysis with Dr. Northover at Oxford or did someone else?– How much money did Elkington end up charging for his services?– Who is currently in possession of the codices?
1. As I said before we trade Hay and Horses on the Jordanian Border. We met and befriended a taxi driver and the story started from there. In fact as you have probably guessed it I was the one who first made the contact and first got the books. Hassan later got involved.2.We had been knocking on doors in Europe some v eminent discreet researchers and we met through our friend in Jericho a Palestinian women working for the PLO, she made us all sorts of promises to buy the books and inlfated value etc. she introduced us ( against the advise of the reputable European Contacts) to a Nick Fielding and in Turn Robert Feather and DavidThis was in 2008/9. We hosted their visit to Israel and told them the truth about everything including the facts the books ( some of them were already – innocently in Europe) They came up with the idea to fabricate various stories and to invent export licences. We were a bit confused but naively went along with things. David made out he was the third wheel just there to take photos3. We gave them one book for analysis and paid them well over £5000 – infact in total close to £10,000 to send off for testing etc4. Meanwhile other translators and researchers continued to work for free and still are discretely5. Elkington until Hassan took the book back had access the books as did the other for over a year but it was Robert Feather ( we discovered later- a ” devout Jew’ who was hiding ” treasure in his house! Not once did Elkington inform the Jordanians and not once did feather alert the israelisas they kept demanding money and we were getting no where, we just parted company hence the surprise to see how he ” popped up again” He has been out of the picture for around 2 years/. We heard some chinese whispers that if he was not ” let back in’ he would go ” denounce us” but we told him to go ahead/ So far nothing had been proved just the age of the metal. We travelled previously quite legitimately not hiding anything. We truly had no idea what they wereMeanwhile other books appeared and Hassan ” bought them” Ellkington made his own trips to Jordan6. We are currently in possession of the Lead Codices as we always have been in Israel