Tag Archives: Forgeries

The Economist on the Jordan Codices

The Economist has published an article about the Jordan Codices (HT Tom Verenna). The article broadly promotes suspended judgment and urges testing, wagging a finger at those who find the evidence of their forgery to be conclusive. The response of the blogging community to the codices is collectively characterized as “denunciation and ridicule.” I cannot say that I am pleased with the article’s insight or approach. The call to suspended judgment appears to me to be more an axiom than an informed conclusion.


Further Jordan Codices Update

David Elkington has posted fourteen more images of some of the codices. These he says were sent along from Hassan Saeda, and he does not comment on their authenticity. Many of the images below appear to be different shots of the same plate, whether obverse and reverse sides, or just different angles. Note that the codex I’ve designated Codex LXXIV is quite clearly genetically related to our earlier Codex XI, which was shared with Philip Davies and published in the PEQ article from last year. The same image was obviously used to produce the portrait on both codices.

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Although the iconography and the script is somewhat different in some of these codices, several of the codices are identical to earlier obvious forgeries, and there are enough consistencies in the script and the composition in all the codices to conclude they all come from the same forger or forgers. For instance, note that the date palm image in Codex LXXXII is exactly identical to the date palms I discuss here. It obviously came from the same die. The script appears to have been manipulated to appear more diverse and “cursive,” but many of the letters are identical to those appearing on the demonstrable forgeries. Codices LXXXIII and LXXXIV obviously used a portion of the same die for the fronds, the circular border, the inferior dividing line, and all the script above that line (!), and just used a different die for the imagery within the circuler border. As an illustration, compare the following three details from the codices:

New Jordan Codices Photos

David Elkington has released six more photos on his Facebook page of what he describes as “leather pages” from the codices collection. They are below.

Some initial thoughts:

– The edges of the pages are remarkably crisp for two thousand year-old leather
– The pages and the plates were together when the holes were punched
– The plate under page I has the star iconography found on several demonstrably forged plates, and the leather is clearly cut to fit that plate.
– Page II seems to have two layers of material underneath it. This plate is likely the middle layer, given the correspondance with the holes and the menorah image. I don’t know what kind of chemical interactions create that kind of image. Notice the rather intentional border on the right side of the plate
– Page III seems to me to be a lead plate, not a leather page. The script is the same as on the plate that underlies the other page, although it appears engraved rather than cast. The hole on the left is punched right through the text, as it is on the other plate, undermining the notion that the text itself was of any actual value to whoever punched the holes. The erratic arrangement of the text and iconography appears intentional, which is indicative in my mind of a naive attempt at archaizing.
– The crude iconography is the same as on many of the demonstrably forged plates

David Elkington Once Again on the Lead Codices

In a recent post on his Facebook group page, David Elkington has responded in a roundabout way to the charge that he deliberately altered the Peter Northover metallographic report to replace a judgment that the codices exhibited a property inconsistent with their putative provenance with a judgment that they exhibited a property perfectly consistent with that provenance. He states:

Thanks to certain critics of this page, we would like to highlight a correction to a small portion of text found within a transcription of the Oxford (OMCS) metallurgical report. Whilst typing from the original copy (the scanned original is also posted on this site ) a sentence was unintentionally omitted, which has since been corrected. Please note that this has no bearing on the final conclusions of the report.

First, that error was first pointed out about six months ago. It shouldn’t have taken six months for Elkington to acknowledge the error and correct it. Second, it strains credulity to think that the one portion of the report that directly conflicted with Elkington’s broad claims would be conveniently, and accidentally, omitted, especially in light of his repeated appeal to the report’s corroboration of those claims. I discussed the possibility of haplography in the post linked to above (note my assumption was shown to be correct), but if you consider Elkington’s reticence for the last six months and the claim he made on his recent appearance on Coast to Coast that he simply doesn’t have the skills to forge a different report (which was never the charge), it seems highly unlikely this was an accident.

For discussion of the video shot months ago and recently added to Elkington’s Facebook page, see Steve Caruso’s The Aramaic Blog.

Robert Cargill on the Jordan Codices and An Invitation

Bob Cargill has some thoughts up in a new post that directs readers to Tom Verenna’s recent video on the Jordan Codices. As an archaeologist who deals regularly with questions of authenticity, Cargill provides some insight into patterns common to amateur archaeologists/scholars trying to promote artifacts for their own monetary or ideological profiteering:

Like most unprovenanced “discoveries,” the Jordan Lead Codices are continuing to be exposed for what they are: a book-selling, documentary-pitching, money making, religious profiteering scheme, which uses a hungry media to prey on the faithful and the public, and employs the tried-and-true formula of 1) a sensational press release (without academic peer-review or scholarly evaluation), followed by 2) a pseudoscientific data dump that attempts to dilute and drown out the logic and actual science put forth by scholars responding to and debunking the claim (at least until the book gets released).

As the manipulative nature of this kind of campaign is exposed, “archaeological hucksters” tend to react by appealing to argumentum ad hominem and a sense among laypersons of distrust for putative academic elitism and bias:

(Keep in mind, the archaeological hucksters often get a little bent out of shape when scholars call them on their nonsense and criticize their claims, and the hucksters’ responses can often take the form of personal attacks coupled with unwarranted claims of religious/ethnic persecution (i.e., anti-Semitic, anti-Christian, anti-whatever).

This is exactly the case with the comments from observers and from the admin on the Jordan Codices Facebook page. The admin recently made the following claim:

Note: We have had many requests for more photographs; however, we have been prevented from fulfilling this requests by those who have chosen to abuse the copyright of the photographs by lifting them for their own personal and commercial websites, in certain instances, misrepresenting and misinterpreting the photographs. Unfortunately the actions of a few has affected the enjoyment of many.

When it was pointed out multiple times in comments that the law prevents any kind of copyright claims on said photos, the admin simply deleted the comments:

The only post of the above two that remains is the one calling bibliobloggers “bastards.” Elkington responded to that post thanking the poster for his “sentiment.” The fact is, there is nothing in the promulgation of the photos on the internet that at all complicates sharing more photos, unless, of course, you just don’t want the actual contents of the codices to be further analyzed. This is obviously the reason the most recent photos Elkington released had pieces of paper obscuring the pages of the codices.

The only post of the above that remains is the one calling bibliobloggers “bastards.” Elkington responded to that post thanking the poster for his “sentiment” and stating the following:

Unfortunately there are those out there who are not satisfied with just keeping to their own opinions but must seek to go one step further and force them upon others. It is most unchristian: an irony really given that Christ preached love and tolerance. It makes you wonder why if they do believe that the codices are fake why they are investing so much emotion and persistence in trying to demonstrate their view, whilst ignoring the hard science of the metal reports. As we have requested, in the introduction to this page, we are seeking reasoned and responsible, well mannered debate – not the ill-mannered personal attacks that these misguided fellows have sought. They have our sympathy – as the first century Rabbi Hillel once stated: The ignorant man sins with a clear conscience.

This is part of the personal attack concomitant with this kind of fraud, but notice Elkington asserts that the “hard science of the metal reports” vindicates him, even though the comments he continues to delete show conclusively that Elkington has altered the relevant report to bring it in line with his claims where it originally falsified them. Other comments are equally pejorative:

They’re cockey, unfair, narrow-minded, accusatory, impatient, hot under the collar, and seem to delight in hastily jumping to conclusions before all the facts are on the table. For the sake of inflated pride, they put a higher priority on wanting to be “proven” right, rather than on dispassionately and evenhandedly weighing all the unfolding pros and cons of a given controversy.

The original source message is a strong powerful force of love and peace, of grace and dignity, and to attack that is strangely symptomatic of the crucifiction, so think about that before you write your abuse and post abusive videos – you are no better than Judas and Pontius Pilate – you are history repeating itself in a destructive way.

The first group of challengers is comprised of those scholarly types who early on in this process jumped to the conclusion that the Jordan Codices are fakes, based on very limited information: Now, as a result of “jumping the gun,” their reputations and egos are in jeopardy if it turns out the codices actually are authentic ancient artifacts. These persons must continually “fire away” as they attempt to reconvince themselves and their followers that they “got it right” the first time.

I agree about your evaluation of people who are so desperate to prove these are forgeries. You’d think professional and academic people or those involved in theology would have an open and inquisitive mind about these artifacts before judging.

Why are these people putting so much effort in when they are absolutely convinced they are fakes. That You Tube posting must have taken some time and effort to put together. Why???

Some of these comments ask about motivations, but they can expect no answer when the administration has barred critics from comment. The posts show nothing more than assumptions about what must be driving those who are trying to set the record straight. They all do not appear the least bit concerned that the Elkington has already shown himself phenomenally ignorant of Greek as well as Hebrew in the conclusions he asserts are coming from the world’s leading experts. They do not appear concerned that the Jordan Codices admin has been shown conclusively to have misrepresented scientific data in favor of the authenticity of the codices. Since that falsified information is the only evidence that has ever existed to support the antiquity of the codices’ images and texts, what is compelling them to assert a need to suspend of judgment, or to assert that we’re the ones jumping to conclusions?

I cannot respond to request for motivations or other answers on Facebook, but I invite any and all who think there is a possibility the codices are authentic to comment here. Your comments will not be deleted, edited, or ignored. I’m not a fundamentalist by a long shot and I have absolutely nothing to lose or gain by the falsification or authentication of these codices. I am perfectly willing to fully and honestly respond to any inquiries. If David or any others are honestly looking for sincere and dispassionate dialogue (or photos of the codices!), you can find it here. You cannot find it on Facebook.

Short Video on Jordan Codices

Tom Verenna has a video up on the Jordan Codices that explains a few of the more critical problems with the claims being made by Elkington through Facebook:

Here is a more detailed explanation of the manipulation that has taken place with the Oxford materials report. This is a claim that Elkington made on the Facebook page regarding the Oxford materials report (it is a response to a post that has been deleted):

The metal was re-melted in antiquity. If you read the report carefully, it states this fact. It then concludes that the metal is of ancient provenance and that the corrosion is uniform across the entire surface.

Does the report support this claim? This is the scan of one of the pages from that report that Elkington has placed on the Jordan Codices Facebook page:

Here is his transcription of this page:

The third sentence under the Corrosion section would seem to support Elkington’s claim that analysis suggest an ancient provenance:

Most of the other leaves show a surface which flakes off quite easily and can expose a very clean and just slightly oxidized surface with the characteristic of lead that has been buried where it would be expected that the surface crust would be thicker and that there would be greater penetration of the metal leaving, at least, a pitted surface.

If the syntax of this sentence seems off to you, you’re not alone. The second half of the sentence seems to be describing a situation that is expected but not observed, rather than a situation that has been observed. According to the sentence above the “where” is to be understood locatively, but it seems to be operating as a subordinating conjunction. A closer look at the scan, which has been intentionally made virtually illegible by Elkington, solves the problem:

The highlighted sentence reads:

In the present writer’s view this is not characteristic of lead that has been buried where it would be expected that the surface crust would be thicker and that there would be greater penetration of the metal leaving, at least, a pitted surface.

Elkington’s transcription removes the last portion of the sentence prior to the highlighted text and combines the resulting fragment with the second half of the highlighted sentence. Basically, the word “characteristic” in the highlighted sentence is moved back and replaces the word “characters” in the previous sentence, removing the portion of the report that conflicts with an ancient provenance for the codices. Will Elkington argue for haplography as a result of homoioarcton? Possibly, but it can be no coincidence that the edited text supports a fundamental claim that Elkington highlights and emphasizes elsewhere. Elkington has demonstrably altered the report to support his assertions. This is flagrant and egregious deception, and it shows quite conclusively that Elkington is willing to lie and to openly and transparently manipulate scientific data to make his codices appear ancient. They simply are not. Elkington is a demonstrable fraud and a dilettant (he is monstrously ignorant of basic principles of Greek and Hebrew). His deception needs to be exposed. Too many innocent people have been taken in by this man’s baseless claims, and they will soon begin to line his pockets with book royalties.

PS – A link to the video above was posted on the Jordan Codices page a few minutes ago by Mark Goodacre, associate professor of New Testament at Duke University:

It has already been removed by Elkington, along with the other comment (which Elkington does not seem to understand):

PPS – Since Dr. Goodacre’s post, two more professors, Jim West of Quartz Hill School of Theology and James Davila of St. Andrews University have posted the link, only to have it unceremoniously removed. Dorothy Lobel King, an actual archaeologist, pointed out that Elkington cannot, by law, claim copyrights on photos of the artifacts. That comment was also removed:



Jordan Codices Photos

Following are all of the photos I have found of the Jordan Codices. They are of varying size and quality. Elkington has claimed the two longer and thinner codices are forgeries, but you can see clear relationships between some of the iconography on one of the two codices and on others. The rest, as far as I know, are claimed to be genuine by Elkington. Some are likely new to you, and some you’ll have seen many times. This adds up to around 38 over 40 distinct codices, which provides a pretty representative portion of the original hoard. I haven’t been able to look closely at all of them, either, so any observations you think are noteworthy are welcome. If anyone knows of any that I’ve left out, please let me know.

Steve Caruso’s Analysis of the Codices at LiveScience

David Meadows has let me know that there is an article up at livescience.com (here) which describes the growing consensus among scholars that the lead codices are forgeries. Steve Caruso’s great analysis of the production of the script on the codices features heavily in the article.