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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9 Responses

  1. [...] things are problematic with this development, as other bloggers have already noted. In addition to these concerns, though, it seems off to me that the metals expert [...]

  2. [...] Daniel and Tom has a post up, as does Steve and so does Dr. Davila. Jim as well, who seems to imply that some of [...]

  3. [...] $13,000. For more information, see posts by Steve Caruso, Joel Watts, Jim Davila, Dan McClellan, Tom Verenna, Dirk Jongkind, Dorothy King, Jim West as well as the editorial by Philip Davies. But perhaps most [...]

  4. [...] You can check out the original Lead Codices press release, the Wikipedia page, as well as the Facebook page, whose editor/s (who many observers now believe to be David Elkington himself or someone close to him) have begun deleting comments questioning the authenticity of the find. The latest debunking of the case can be found here. [...]

  5. [...] Jordan Lead Codices: Case Closed as “Genuine” Forgeries? [...]

  6. [...] in entrambi i codici si sarebbe servito del medesimo timbro e degli stessi “arnesi da lavoro”. Ma c’è di più. Il quadruplice simbolo è precisamente una riproduzione di una raffigurazione contenuta in una [...]

  7. […] Barker then goes on to comment on the juxtaposition of the imagery and the “paleo-Hebrew”—not deigning to comment on the single proposed translation offered—stating that “to see images next to a sacred script is really something . . . well, it’s mind-boggling.” Barker had just finished pointing out that this “sacred script” was found on coinage from around the turn of the era, but, ironically enough, she evidently forgot that that “sacred script” happens to appear on that coinage alongside images, and specifically images that coincide with much of the imagery of the codices (see here): […]

  8. […] that the “real” codices and the “forgeries” were cast from the same mold. Where Tom Verenna was the first to point this out in detail, take a look at the following […]

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