Jordan ‘Lead Codices’ Redux

There seems to be a lot of conversation again about the lead codices.  So for those new to the conversation, there are some important links.

The video on why the codices are believed to be fakes produced in a workshop in Amman can be found here:

The two academically published articles on the codices and why they are probably fakes can be found at Bible and Interpretation here (to my knowledge these are the most thorough discussions and contain multiple links to roundups, academic interpretations, and are the only articles academically published on the subject):

You’ll also want to check out the Biblioblog Reference Library, as they have a whole section devoted to the codices. The website is very useful since it contains all sorts of information and useful multimedia so you can see the evidence for yourselves on why these are probably fakes and why most academics don’t trust them. See here:

Steve Caruso Clarifies the Function of the Lead Codices

Steve Caruso responds to a blog comment which asks “if these are fakes, what is the original object they are making facsimiles of?”  The question is one that has been asked before so their function deserves to be highlighted and exposed.  Steve writes:

Whoever fabricated these is not making copies of a genuine artifact, more than producing fake “antiquities” to sell at a significant profit. As we saw on eBay, one was being offered to the tune of $13,000. That’s not a bad markup for $5 worth of ancient Roman lead.

I have seen the same pattern like this before several times only in “golden letters on leather” where a pastiche of re-used iconography is assembled in a pattern that seems authentic enough to someone who doesn’t know what to look for.

When I’ve been approached by individuals trying to fence fakes it was always a matter of presenting something with enough intrigue to make the sale, and then threatening that time is short to complete the transaction.

Within this method, the sealed book angle, given the Apocalyptic reference, is the icing on the proverbial cake, and what seals (no pun intended) the deal for a potential buyer.

via Blogger: The Aramaic Blog – Post a Comment.

 

Jordan Lead Codices: Palm Tree Iconography

There are two definitive Palm Tree stamps which were used in the production of the iconography on the lead codices.  The first is a 12-branch palm tree (Type A):

Found on these codices, for example:

The second (Type B) is one that has smaller branches (and more of them) which are shaped in a rounded fashion rather than the pyramid-like fashion from the one above:

Found on these codices, for example:

Now onto the analysis of these palm trees, starting with the one with thirteen-branches.  Right away, their authenticity is called into question.  First the number of branches is simply wrong.  Second, the style of the branches are completely inaccurate from what we would expect of iconography from the period in the region.  Palm tree iconography found on coins from the first and second Jewish wars all feature seven branches with the exception being the fourth year prutah during the first Jewish war which features eight branches:

Here are some examples of seven-branch palm trees featured on coins dating to the Bar Kokhba uprising (second Jewish war):

And even those minted by Roman procurators like Antonius Felix also contained similar palm tree iconography:

You can clearly make out the six branches in the image, even with its poor quality.

Marcus Ambivulus’ (prefect of Judea) coin iconography is the closest match one might find to the iconography of Type A found on the lead codices:

As one can see, the branches are in a wave style, that is that each branch–particularly on the top rows–form a wing-shape or a flattened “v” rather than connecting to a central trunk like the other palm tree coin iconography.  It is likely that these coins, found all over Israel and Jordan (and in museums), were the inspiration for the Type A  palm trees on the lead codices.  Although I have also found this ring with a palm tree on it as well:

This ring, said to be a temple offering during the first Jewish war (the iconography is clearly based on the year four, first Jewish war prutah), bears the same number of branches.  The thing is, Joe Zias has told me that this ring is similar to tourist trinkets he has seen in Israel, peddled by workshops as well.  In other words, if this is indeed fake (and I am inclined to believe it might be), it is remarkably similar to the design on the codices.  The difference, again, is the style of the branches.  This ring has the branhces connecting to a central trunk rather than the wave or winged pattern of the Type A palm tree on the codices and the palm tree on the Ambivulus prutah.  So while this is very similar, it is more likely, in this authors opinion, that the palm tree Type A iconography is based on the Ambivulus prutah.  Now on to Type B.

Type B palm trees like very modern in style.  In fact, the palm tree iconography of Type B is unlike anything I’ve seen from antiquity.  Even on Judea Capta coins, where the palm trees look close (but not nearly close enough), the iconography has more differences than similarities:

Clearly not the same iconography.

The only palm tree iconography I could find which resembles the iconography of the Type B palm trees on the lead codices is the Nerva sestertius:

It is this authors opinion that the Type B iconography is loosely based upon this coin, or a modern equivalent.

And just to throw another wrench into the mix, I have included some fake coins in this lot to show that, not only are modern fakes with palm tree iconography are everywhere in our modern world (and the dies easy to come by), but that these dies are extremely close to the real thing.  Fake coins (with their palm tree iconography) are everywhere and more often than not are purchased by a lot of unsuspecting people.  Chances are you probably can’t tell the difference between the real ones and the fake ones, unless you are trained with a keen eye to spot them!

Jordan Lead Codices: Another Stamp Found

Upon investigating the leaf from one of the “500 fakes” I noticed this stamp:

And I knew immediately that I had seen this stamp before on this “authentic” lead codex here:

And as it turns out, the iconography is identical (note also that the helmet with plume and cheek straps from the Herod the Great prutah is on this “authentic” codex and also on the “fake” codex seen here).  Here is a comparison:

And here is a better comparison:

Once again proving that the same stamps were used to create the “authentic” codices and the “500 fakes”.

Bible and Interpretation – Update on the Jordan Lead Codices

My new article on Bible and Interpretation is up!  It is a brief update on the status of the investigation into the Jordan lead codices.  Here is a snippet:

None of the codices that have been released thus far for the public have proven to be authentic (including those which Elkington has supported as authentic) and none have shown to be more than the products of workshops, skilled in peddling fakes to tourists at a hefty price. It is also true that the iconography and even some of the script has roots in actual artifacts but these qualities were repurposed, out of context, from items found in museums in Jordan.

Update _Codices4.pdf (application/pdf Object).

Jordan Lead Codices: Exposing the Fakes [Updated]

As of today, the following blogs have posted this video and made very important comments.  Please check them all out and see what they have to say.  Don’t take my word for it!

  • James McGrath
  • Dan McClellan (with further explanations on the manipulated metallurgical report and pictures of the censorship!)
  • Jim Davila
  • David Meadows
  • Jim West
  • Mark Goodacre
  • Fr. Stephen
  • Steve Caruso, who notes:In a bit, I’ll have another post that actually goes over some clarifications that have been made to one of the metallurgical reports by the researcher who compiled it.
  • Joel Watts
  • Dorothy Lobel King also has brought up an excellent point.  According to BRIDGEMAN ART LIBRARY, LTD. v. COREL CORP., 36 F. Supp. 2d 191 (S.D.N.Y. 1999), Elkington cannot claim copyright on the photos by law!  Unless the photos are of fakes (and if he wishes to pursue the claim that I am stealing copyrighted material, he would have to admit to this), in which case the codices are indeed the property of the workshop and the photos would be his.  However, if these are the real thing, as he is alleging, then pictures of the lead codices, which would be considered artifacts and already in public domain, cannot be copyrighted.  So by attempting to copyright the photos, he has already admitted to guilt!
  • Kerry
  • Bob Cargill has very interesting things to say.  Bob, unlike David Elkington, is a real archaeologist (as is Dorothy Lobel King) and notes:
    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).

    This formula to misuse archaeology to make religious claims for ideological and/or money making purposes works regardless of the faith of the huckster making the claim: Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical, Orthodox, Jewish, Muslim – peddlers representing all faiths and even some “alien enthusiasts” (usually amateurs with no formal training in scholarship or archaeology) have used the formula to sell books, sell tickets, pitch documentaries, and attempt to proselytize the public and/or take its money. And, by the time actual scholars respond and debunk the story, the media has usually moved on (and if the media do publish a follow-up story, it is usually no longer a headline). Let’s face it: archaeological hucksters keep using the formula because it works (or at least always has), and it will continue to work in the future as long as scholars fail to respond to the false claims immediately and publicly.

  • Dan McClellan also adds a few more comments on his blog, like this gem:

    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…

Alert the Press! Real Academics Don’t use Facebook or Blog!

According to Elkington (bold and italicized), who we all know is the erudite, scholarly fellow (/sarcasm):

Regarding the omission of academic postings on this site, it was set up to release news into the public sphere (due to significant demand) and not as an academic forum (real academics tend not to use Facebook and are not bloggers! – They respectably keep their counsel, which is why they haven’t participated directly on this site, although they support it).

Someone better alert Bob Cargill, James Crossley, Jim West, Dan McClellan, David Meadows, James McGrath, James Tabor, Mark Goodacre, and many, many others (too many to list)!  Apparently, Elkington feels that Real Academics™ are defined as those people who make sweeping claims and broad accusations behind a pseudonym on a Facebook page (which is exactly what he’s been doing).  This is just as classic as the time he said that Thonemann wasn’t a real Biblical scholar!  He continues on with his ignorant comment:

It takes numerous top level academics to arrive at a reasonable conclusion: not only to translate the text, but to put it into contextual meaning, taking into consideration the cultural, theological and political situation of the time. Some of the direct translation that has already been done would be very open to literalists to have a field day; however, when put into proper context, is exciting, as it largely supports the gospels (what has been translated and contextualized thus far, which isn’t a huge amount – this will take years of study). As you have probably seen from the widespread criticism out there – based on VERY LITTLE information, you can imagine the furore if we let any Tom, Dick or Harry offer their opinion. Of course everyone has a right to their views and opinions; however, we believe that it is the responsible thing to do to let the appropriately skilled individuals put their research out there first – we owe it to the public. Most of what has been published out there by the bloggers has been way off the mark and based on so little given out.

Spoken like a truly naive person.  Of course those who are criticizing the validity and authenticity of these codices are those who have backgrounds in the subject are also top notch scholars (I am not sure what ‘top level academics’ are–does Elkington think this is a game of WoW?  What an absolutely ludicrous thing to say).  Even those who used to initially accept them as ancient have since turned their backs on the idea, or at least expressed a large amount of skepticism towards their antiquity, like Philip Davies.  Like a child pouting in the corner when given a time-out, Elkington is showing everyone his last-ditch effort to establish credibility by stomping is foot, whining, and making faces at his critics rather than engaging them intellectually.

H/T to Dan McClellan for alerting me to this.

Lead Codices Updates: Evidence of Lifted Script from coins and Additional Updates from Dan McClellan

Steve Caruso made a breakthrough today with this image:

He writes:

Going on the coin inscription lead, I came across a sequence of characters lifted nonsensically from the prutot of John Hyrcanus I (135-104 BC).

via The Aramaic Blog: Lead Codices: Sequence Lifted From John Hyrcanus I Prutah.

Also Dan McClellan made this note as well:

It reads as follows with the Facebook admin’s reading:

. . . לגלשאגתלאלגלגבשאגתל . . .
. . . מבתבלאגתלגשבתבלאגתבב . . .
. . . מסרשאלגבבמסרשאלגת . . .

A small collection of letters are simply being nonsensically repeated (with the occasional accidental word appearing). It is difficult to make out in the photo above because of the blurring, but the first roughly half of the bottom three lines are repeated in exactly the same shape and orientation in the second half of the text. Whatever mold or die was used to create the first half of each of the three lines was simply used again for the second half. Philip Davies’ recent PEQ editorial, available for free here, mentions this repetition and calls the lettering “mostly purely decorative.” This rather conflicts with Elkington’s claim to have the world’s top paleo-Hebrew mind reaching a breakthrough in translation (unless, of course, Elkington doesn’t think Davies is one of the five who can read it!).

via A Preliminary Translation of the Jordan Codices is Offered « Daniel O. McClellan.

He also notes earlier today of the dishonesty of the Elkingtons on their Facebook page:

The admin in charge of the Jordan Codices Facebook group has posted four pictures from what it claims are forensic tests of the codices. He states:

This set of photographs are some examples we took during our forensic work on the codices.

It’s my contention that the photos show no such thing. These are publicity photos taken by Elkington himself (or associates) and passed off as scientific.

In the first photo, the vast majority of the codex has been obscured by the portion of torn-off loose leaf notebook paper. What value does this photo have for a researcher? Absolutely none. In the lower picture a smaller piece of loose leaf notebook paper has been torn off to allow for the visibility of the tree image (and the numbering system is different). This is simply not how artifacts are photographed by professionals. Elkington is obscuring those parts of the codices that have text on them so that people who have the ability to analyze the texts for themselves cannot do so. He wants you to see the tree, though, since it’s pretty and it cannot be shown to be unintelligible.

If there is anyone out there who believes these to be authentic or genuinely ancient, they are either deluding themselves or in on the scam.

A Preliminary Translation of the Jordan Codices is Offered « Daniel O. McClellan

Dan McClellan offers us a very important clue in the discussion of the lead codices.  Here is a snippet:

A small collection of letters are simply being nonsensically repeated (with the occasional accidental word appearing). It is difficult to make out in the photo above because of the blurring, but the first roughly half of the bottom three lines are repeated in exactly the same shape and orientation in the second half of the text. Whatever mold or die was used to create the first half of each of the three lines was simply used again for the second half. Philip Davies’ recent PEQ editorial, available for free here, mentions this repetition and calls the lettering “mostly purely decorative.” This rather conflicts with Elkington’s claim to have the world’s top paleo-Hebrew mind reaching a breakthrough in translation (unless, of course, Elkington doesn’t think Davies is one of the five who can read it!).

via A Preliminary Translation of the Jordan Codices is Offered « Daniel O. McClellan.

Jordan Lead Codices: Case Closed as “Genuine” Forgeries?

And so we are once again brought back to these codices.  Elkington and company will not stop pretending, it seems.  This time they might have unintentionally admitted to their forgeries:

Approximately two months ago, Hassan Saida, the Israeli Bedouin who smuggled the Jordan Codices into Israel, telephoned to inform the team that he and his cohorts had made 500 forgeries of various of the codices and put them into the Jerusalem market.   We didn’t think too much of it as he tells lots of tales; however, one of team members was sent these two photographs by someone who purchased them in Israel. To those who have seen the real McCoy, these were obvious forgeries.   However, even comparing them to the posted photographs, the difference is all too apparent.   Below are some observations made by one of the metal experts assisting the team.  We expect more will materialise in due course.

Steve Caruso notes:

Interesting thing about the above image that came with the release: If it is based off one of the codices, it does not resemble any of the codices released thusfar. At first glance, this one is in a much more obvious Hebrew/Aramaic-flavored script rather than the seemingly “Paleo-Hebrew/Aramaic/Coptic” mix of the others. (Something that their “metal expert” noticed as well. I wish I had a name to put to their words.)

via The Aramaic Blog: Lead Codices: “Genuine” Forgeries?.

And Joel Watts:

David Elkington is not letting this die – as now the Bedouin who first smuggled out the ‘Lead Codices’ is telling everyone that he has created 500 forgeries. Of course, the ‘real’ lead codices is what David has… Do you know the mental mind-flips it takes to state that that guy who is telling everyone that he has made 500 forgeries is now lying and that your copy is the only real copy?

Jim Davila aptly notes:

I think the evidence presented so far is adequately explained by positing that someone in modern times made the fake metal codices, apparently using ancient metal, at least for some of them. If anyone wants to demonstrate that among the now admitted sea of fakes is a genuine ancient inscription, I refer them to my list of conditions that need to be fulfilled here. Take your time, but don’t expect me to hold my breath.

Dan McClellan writes:

Is this an attempt to account for the exposure of other codices as modern forgeries? If so, it falls well, well short of explaining the numerous genetic relationships shared between the script and iconography of the Thonemann codices and the others being promoted as genuine (see my discussion here and here). It also produces a rather unique codex that has little relationship to the other demonstrable forgeries. I can’t say the “team” involved in the promulgation of this hoax is impressing me with their craftiness.

In truth, this seems to me like a part of the bigger lie here.  What better way to validate your claims that these aren’t forgeries than to release real forgeries?  As if to say, “See?  These are the actual forgeries, and we are so incompetent we created terrible forgeries, so these others must be real!” or something to that effect.  In the end, however, Elkington and company have only revealed their hand: they have admitted to having the means and the shop to fabricate, and in a short amount of time, lead codices.  Just because this batch turned out to be crappier than their earlier versions does not make the originals any more authentic or ‘genuine’ than the 500 they admit are forgeries.  The only thing it means is that their workshop has not yet been discovered and they have not yet been held accountable for their lies.

UPDATE (8/23/11, 11:49AM EST):

The Facebook page for the codices has uploaded a new image of a fake:

Just from an initial glance, the iconography on this admitted forgery is identical to the iconography on the ‘genuine’ codices.  That is to say, the same stamps were clearly used.  The menorah, the Bar Kokhba imagery from coins, the palm tree, even the script, is clearly the same.  This further validates my position that the original ‘genuine’ codices were produced by he same shop which replicated these 500 fakes.

See this image from this front tablet:

This is clearly seen in other tablets.  See the same image from this post a few months ago:

Steve Caruso made this animated image of the “fake” codex image over the “original” codex image, and as you can see, the two are identical:

Even the lettering around the stamp is the same (because the script is part of the stamp).  This seals it then, so to speak.  These are fakes and so are the ‘originals’.

Also the interested reader should check out the dedicated page at the Biblioblog Reference Library here.

UPDATE (8/23/11, 4:35PM EST):

Steve Caruso and Dan McClellan were removed from the Jordan Codices Facebook page; both were politely inquiring about the codices in the images and clearly were censored by a nervous hand.  In other news relating to Elkington, the conman himself went on the air today and made some extremely dilettantish comments, showing one and all how little he really knows or, conversely, how good of a liar he is (transcript courtesy of Dan McClellan):

For those of you who didn’t listen to Elkington’s interview on that Coast to Coast radio show, I went ahead and transcribed a couple minutes of it that I found particularly ludicrous (specifically 13:51 – 15:31):

-       Elkington: Um, we, we’re–we’re–we’re performing more analysis now on the translation and the decipherment of the language. A lot of people have said, “Oh, I’ve seen these things on the web, the, uh, language is–is–is–it’s gibberish; it–it makes no sense. It’s a very odd form of Aramaic.” Well, um, actually the news is this: it isn’t Aramaic. The script is a square script, which means it’s Hebrew, and the form of Hebrew that it is, is called paleo-Hebrew, which is very, very ancient indeed, and there are only four or five people in the world who are familiar with it. And we’re working with one of those, uh, professors at the moment, who thinks he’s on the edge of a breakthrough with the language.

-       Interviewer: Wow.

-       Elkington: Some of it’s translatable, but a lot of it is still yet to be, uh, deciphered.

-       Interviewer: Ok, but paleo-Hebrew would date to a specific time that would, at least in my understanding, would come a long time before–before Christ and the Hebrew of the–of the first century as we­–as we know it. Is that not true?

-       Elkington: Yeah, that’s very true. That’s a very astute observation, if I may say so. Um, the use of paleo-Hebrew is extraordinary. It would be rather like you and I using Latin today.

-       Interviewer: Right, exactly.

-       Elkington: It would really make no sense to the large majority of people; but what, actually, it shows, is paleo-Hebrew may well have been the language of Moses, um, Moses on the mountain collecting the ten commandments. So, therefore, the use of it states that it really is like an official temple language, and that they’re using the original words of God, which makes this all the more extraordinary.
But Elkington is quite wrong and rather ignorant.  Let’s break this down a bit.  First, the paleo-Hebrew script is not necessarily that ancient.   For example, such script was used on coins during the Bar Kokbha rebellion (132-135 CE) on coins:

You’ll note, as I have, and Dan McClellan has, and Steve Caruso has, that the script on this coin is identical in many instances to the script on the codices.  In addition, there are other possible types of script as well.  It seems like Coptic (and above), Greek, and possibly other ancient scripts are also on many of these codices.  And there are a lot of scholars out there who are familiar paleo-Hebrew.  Even none-scholars, like educated amateurs, with an adequate grasp of the subject, can translate it.
Dan McClellan remarks (echoing my comments above):
First, scholars have been pointing out it seems to be a meaningless mixture and adaptation of scripts, not just that it is “a very odd form of Aramaic.” Next, a “square script” does not indicate Hebrew, and his claim that the script is paleo-Hebrew actually precludes it being a “square script.” Next, there are far, far more than four or five people in the world who are familiar with paleo-Hebrew. This is the most stunning and flagrant lie of the entire interview. Further, though, the use of paleo-Hebrew actually does not indicate antiquity, since paleo-Hebrew is actually a comparatively modern adaptation of the Old Hebrew script used specifically in texts considered particularly sacred or important. Multiple manuscripts from the Dead Sea Scrolls were written entirely in paleo-Hebrew, and the Tetragrammaton appears in several regular manuscripts in paleo-Hebrew.
Finally, David Meadows takes note with the recent (anonymous) metallurgical testing done on the codices and found this gem:
This in turn suggests that the lead has been re-melted and could well contain a mixture of lead from different sources together with lead from the copper alloy.  In contrast, the lead from the wire has overall much lower levels of impurities, with copper at only 100 ppm, and is much more likely to have come virtually direct from an ingot.
To which Meadows points out:
Later mention is made of the recycled nature of the lead in the sheets … that’s one point that needs to be mentioned if it hasn’t already.
At this point there can be no more disagreement.  These need to be called out for the fakes that they are.
Additional links:
UPDATE (8/27/11; 6:26PM EST):
I have posted up some new finds from Steve Caruso and Dan McClellan here!  Take a look, as it may just be the final nail in the coffin on these codices.
UPDATE (8/30/11; 1:30PM EST)
Steve Caruso and Dan McClellan have posted up some great material today, absolutely fascinating, and it must be shared.
First, Steve Caruso posted up defining evidence that the script on the codices come from the same stamps.  Here are his images:
And this stamps appearance on other codices:
Steve aptly notes:
We can see that in some of the larger plates that they are staggered in such a way to look like a unique sequence of text. This staggered pattern directly demonstrates that there is no attempt to preserve word order of the text itself. To do so, one would have to wrap each individual line until the sequence of characters was complete and this is how it appears on genuine inscriptions, no matter how messy, as it is the recording of the semantic content that is the focus of the exercise.Because of this regularity and pattern, it demonstrates that the “stamps” are the casting unit rather than the “text” itself that is in them.

Go read it all to see the other interesting things he says and more examples of the script!
Dan also posted an excellent blog today with fun images which, again, show quite definitively that we’re looking at fakes.  Dan tracked down the coin which the face of Alexander the Great appears (and is also a known fake–go figure!):
Dan writes:
The use of a number of stamps has been suggested in the past based on the frequent repetition of the menorah, the two different styles of trees, etc. See also the two different versions of the “Christ” face…
You can see the mold was manipulated somewhat after the stamp impression was made and before the casting was done. The images are not identical, but come from the same stamp. I cannot agree that this impression comes from a Mona Lisa image, though. This would require the forger created a three dimensional copy of the Mona Lisa image for the stamp. It would have been much easier to us an existing stamp image, and the helios coins are obviously the closest match (although I have not found an exact match). In the copper codex that was falsified by Peter Thonemann the stamps were just fake ancient coins. Earlier Robert Deutsch felt he identified the exact fake for the chariot scene…
Definitely check out what both Dan and Steve have to say.  Again, I reiterate my statement earlier.  There can be no doubts left against the conclusion that these codices are fakes.
Finally, check out the recent ignorant comments left by Elkington, the man who is pushing these fakes as the real deal.
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