In the second semester of 2019, the Forging Antiquity team were joined by a number of undergraduate interns working on a range of topics from the early history of scientific testing through to the range of ethics policies related to antiquities in place at Australian institutions today.
Two of our interns have subsequently joined the Forging Antiquities team (Evie Handby and George Topalidis as MRes thesis candidate and Research Assistant respectively).
Fake Jewish and Christian Manuscripts – Evie Handby
I’m currently completing a Master of Research in the Department of Ancient History. My research interests focus on the reception history of the Hebrew Bible and the intersection of social media and the illicit antiquities trade.
In 2019, I interned with Forging Antiquity on a project that sought to examine how a series of fake Jewish and Christian manuscripts surfacing in Turkey are represented in the news media.
The nature of this project meant that I was able to develop and strengthen a variety of Internet research skills, especially those relating to the collection, analysis, and dissemination of open source data. As an extension of this project, the aim of my Master’s thesis is to explore further the relationship between social media and the illicit antiquities trade by investigating how the manuscripts are advertised and sold on YouTube.
Konstantine Simonides in his own words – George Topalidis
I am a second-year Masters of Research student in Macquarie University’s Department of Ancient History. My fields of interest include ancient Greek religion and the Greek language both ancient and modern.
One of the projects of my internship included translating the writings of the elusive Konstantinos Simonides, a notorious Greek forger of the 19th century. My primary focus was on Simonides’ letter to the fictitious monk Kallinikos, purporting to demonstrate the ‘correct’ reading of Egyptian hieroglyphs in opposition to that of Champollion. Throughout this year, I have the privilege of continuing my work on Simonides as a Research Assistant, transcribing and translating the letters between him and his once good friend John Eliot Hodgkin.
In translating Simonides’ writings – both his forgeries and personal letters – I became intimately familiar with the aims and authenticating techniques of a forger. Simonides frequently employed forged ‘ancient’ authorities to enforce the authenticity of his arguments, while at the same time attempted to de-authenticate his opponents. Through his writings, it became clear to me that authenticity and the struggle to present oneself – or something else – as authentic lie at the heart of issues regarding forgeries, cultural heritage, and the reconstruction of the past. I hope that my work will contribute to the greater discourse surrounding authenticity, and bring focus upon Simonides’ work within the context of 19th century Greek history and identity.