‘The Authentic Terrorist?: Mobilising the Past, Battling for the Future’

The Markers of Authenticity seminar series continues its 2017 program Tuesday 5th September at 4.00 pm, with a seminar on ‘The Authentic Terrorist?: Mobilising the Past, Battling for the Future’, presented by Dr Julian Droogan of the Department of Security Studies and Criminology at Macquarie University . The seminar will be held in the Australian Hearing Hub, Level 5, Seminar Room 212, from 4-6 pm, with light refreshments to follow the paper and discussion. All welcome!

 

‘The Authentic Terrorist?: Mobilising the Past, Battling for the Future’

Presenter: Dr Julian Droogan (Department of Security Studies and Criminology, Macquarie University)

One of the most revealing perspectives from which academics can meaningfully approach the phenomenon of ‘terrorism’ is to look at it as a communication strategy. Terrorists threaten, attack, destroy and kill in order to communicate a message and elicit a response. Concepts of authenticity and the ownership of the past and of ‘tradition’ are often central to these narratives of destruction and revolution. This presentation will look at two of the ways in which terrorists engage in a dialogue with the past in order to make claims about the present and communicate their aspirations for an idealised future. First, religious narratives are mobilised by some terrorist groups in a way that attempts to create a perceived connection with authenticity and authority. Second, the material realities of the places and structures that terrorists attack often embody narratives of historical and cultural importance. These symbolic targets, once attacked, often become places that embody competing narratives for terrorists, victims, nations and other groups, and can play a role in promoting resilience and reconciliation after the violence has ended.

Conference: ‘Imagining the real: Alternative (arte)facts from antiquity to the present day’, 13–14/10 2017, Macquarie University

‘Imagining the real: Alternative (arte)facts from antiquity to the present day’

October 13–14, 2017, Macquarie University Museum of Ancient Cultures

A Symposium sponsored by the Australian Research Council, the MQ Ancient Cultures Research Centre, the Australian Centre for Ancient Numismatic Studies, and the Macquarie University Faculty of Arts ‘Modes of Communication’ Research Theme.

Authenticity gives our experience of the world salience and purchase. The idea of a single real past, anchored in material culture and transmitted by cultural practices, remains cherished in popular culture even as it is steadily eroded by academic discourse. The notion of a stable distinction between true and false continues to the widely held, even as everything from fake news to forged objects dissipates this certainty.

All pasts are imagined, competing constructs of what should, or could, have been. Present relevance is, after all, the final arbiter of the shape of memory. The authenticity of an object, text, or idea, is constructed by the viewer, and does not inhere within it. As the security of an authentic material past is disrupted by forgery, so too do fake objects bring forth fresh imaginings of past and contemporary experiences, lives, and cultures. Forgeries may be in this way carriers of a more authentic representation of the significance of the past than real artefacts, dependent as they are on affinities with contemporary discourse. Authentication techniques, from ancient processes of legitimisation to modern scientific techniques, and from humanities to scientific approaches, rest on expertises and authorities that are routinely contested.

Papers at this symposium will examine contested objects from a range of genres and periods; traditional and emerging techniques used to authenticate them; and the discourses of authenticity and modes of knowledge that both enable their creation, and frame competing understandings of them.

Speakers include: John Melville Jones (University of Western Australia); Årstein Justnes (University of Agder); Margie Borscke (Macquarie University); Malcolm Choat (Macquarie University); Maree Clegg (University of Auckland); Heather Greybehl (Monash University); Ken Sheedy (Macquarie University); Clementine Vanderkwast (Macquarie University); Rachel Yuen-Collingridge (Macquarie University).

Attendance will be free, but rsvps are necessary for catering purposes. A registration site wil be activated soon, but to signal interest now, or for other inquiries, please contact malcolm@forgingantiquity.com

Authenticity, forgery, provenance, and ethics at the 2017 SBL Annual Meeting

This year’s Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting, to be held in Boston on November 18–21, features a bumper crop of sessions, panels, and papers on issues to do with authenticity, forgery, provenance, and the ethics of studying the past. No less than four sessions are devoted to these themes, alongside papers addressing these matters in sessions of the Qumran, Redescribing Early Christianity, and Digital Humanities program units, and a book review session on Candida Moss and Joel Baden’s new book on the Green collection and Museum of the Bible. It promises to be a fantastic meeting for those interested in these issues: indeed, one could nearly construct an entire meeting attending papers about this. Even more amazingly, only two of these sessions currently clash, but it’s a serious clash, and I hope it can be rectified.

Thanks to all those who have organised these panels and shown how important these issues are. It’s going to be a great meeting!

For convenience, I list below the relevant sessions that I have noticed – for full details, including abstracts, head to the online program booklet. There’s probably sessions and papers I missed – apologies in advance, and do let me know so I can update the post (for a list of edits see the end of the post). And I haven’t even checked the AAR schedule yet.

S18-235– Papyrology and Early Christian Backgrounds
11/18/2017
1:00 PM to 3:15 PM

Theme: Authenticity and Dating

Roberta Mazza, University of Manchester, Presiding

Malcolm Choat, Macquarie University and Tommy Wasserman, Orebro School of Theology
The Cable Guy: Constantine Simonides and his New Testament papyri

Andrew Smith, Shepherds Theological Seminary
Analysis of Ink from Ancient Papyri through Raman Micro-Spectroscopy

Kipp Davis, Trinity Western University
Dead Sea Scrolls papyri, scribal features and questions of authenticity

Charles E. Hill, Reformed Theological Seminary
Dating and Breaking Up (the text): Textual Division as a Non-Paleographical Aid in Dating Biblical Texts

 

S19-140 Public Scholarship in the New Media
11/19/2017
9:00 AM to 11:30 AM

Robert Cargill, University of Iowa, Introduction

Panelists:
Nina Burleigh, Newsweek Magazine
Ariel Sabar, The Atlantic
Caroline T. Schroeder, University of the Pacific
Christopher Rollston, George Washington University
Jodi Magness, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

 

S19-238 – Qumran
11/19/2017
1:00 PM to 3:30 PM

Theme: Discovering and investigating manuscript and scribal features of the Dead Sea Scrolls

Alison Schofield, University of Denver, Presiding

Oren Gutfeld, Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Randall Price, Liberty University
The Discovery of a New Dead Sea Scroll Cave at Qumran

Ira Rabin, BAM Federal Institute of Materials Research and Testing
Material analysis: authentication or forgery detection?

Arstein Justnes, Universitetet i Agder
Yet Another Fake? A Pre-2002 Dead Sea Scrolls-like manuscript

Sarah Yardney, University of Chicago
Assessing Current Methods for Reconstructing Biblical Dead Sea Scrolls: A Quantitative Approach

Eibert Tigchelaar, KU Leuven
A Critique of Frank Moore Cross’ Typological Development of the Jewish Scripts

 

S19-206 Avoiding Deception: Forgeries, Fake News, and Unprovenanced Material in Religious Studies
11/19/2017
1:00 PM to 3:30 PM

Hosted by the Student Advisory Board

Why is provenance important? Although the forgery of documents and artifacts has always been a primary concern in religious studies, recent events surrounding the colloquially designated “Jesus’ Wife Fragment” and various unprovenanced fragments touted as part of the Dead Sea Scrolls have propelled scholars into a new era of forgery studies. While some may suppose that scholars are easily able to identify and disprove such items as forgeries, the complicated landscape in which such materials surface and are distributed has necessitated the adaptation of scholarship to remain diligent in preserving authentic items of history for study. This panel will address the challenges facing scholars in identifying and disproving forgeries in our current era. Invited speakers will similarly offer a space to examine the complexities and current status of forgeries in religious studies, identifying ways scholars can navigate the field without perpetuating erroneous materials in their scholarship.

Joshua Matson, Florida State University
Adrianne Spunaugle, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
Roberta Mazza, University of Manchester
Arstein Justnes, Universitetet i Agder
Kipp Davis, Trinity Western University
Jennifer Knust, Boston University
Christian Askeland, Museum of the Bible

S19-335 Redescribing Early Christianity
11/19/2017
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM

Theme: Pseudepigrapha, Deception, and Heresy

Sarah Rollens, Rhodes College, Presiding

Mark Letteney, Princeton University
Authoritative Forgeries and Authentic Apocrypha in Late Antiquity

Anna Cwikla, University of Toronto
The Coptic Apocalypse of Peter as a Pseudepigraphon

Glen J. Fairen, University of Alberta
Lies and the Lying Liars Who Wrote Them: Taking Seriously the Heresoligical Invention of Marcion

William Arnal, University of Regina, Respondent

 

S20-136 Provenience and Policy
11/20/2017
9:00 AM to 11:30 AM

Theme: A panel and discussion about the SBL Policy on Scholarly Presentation and Publication of Ancient Artifacts and Its Implementation

Christine Thomas, University of California-Santa Barbara, Presiding

Daniel Schowalter, Carthage College,
Introduction

Roberta Mazza, University of Manchester
Policy and Papyrology

Christopher Rollston, George Washington University
Policy and Cuneiform

Sidnie White Crawford, University of Nebraska – Lincoln
Policy and the Dead Sea Scrolls

Erin Darby, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Policy and Archaeology

Susan Ackerman, Dartmouth College
Issues of Provenience and Policy in ASOR

 

S20-246 Use, Influence, and Impact of the Bible
11/20/2017
1:00 PM to 3:00 PM

Theme: The United States of Hobby Lobby

In this session, invited discussants will respond to Candida R. Moss and Joel S. Baden’s Bible Nation: The United States of Hobby Lobby (Princeton UP, 2017).

Mark Chancey, Southern Methodist University, Panelist

Malcolm Choat, Macquarie University, Panelist

Peter Manseau, Smithsonian Institution, Panelist

John Fea, Panelist

 

S20-322 Hebrew Bible, History, and Archaeology
11/20/2017
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM

Theme: Forgery and Writing Provenance in Writing Histories of Ancient Israel and Judah

Laura Wright, Luther College, Presiding

Christopher Rollston, George Washington University
Washington’s Museum of the Bible, ASOR and SBL’s Policies on Pillaged Antiquities, and Modern Forged Inscriptions

Michael Johnson, McMaster University
A Case Study in Professional Ethics concerning Secondary Publications of Unprovenanced Artefacts: The New Edition DSS F.Instruction1

Roberta Mazza, University of Manchester
Market of cultural heritage mass destruction? A survey of the contemporary trade in ancient manuscripts from Egypt

Kathleen Nicoll, University of Utah and Matthew Suriano, University of Maryland – College Park
Cross-disciplinary perspectives on unprovenanced artifacts: Reexamining the authenticity of the so-called Jehoash Inscription as a case study

Robert Duke, Azusa Pacific University
New data for scholarship: Why unprovenanced items should not be dismissed

 

S21-116 – Digital Humanities in Biblical, Early Jewish, and Christian Studies
11/21/2017
9:00 AM to 11:30 AM

Theme: Reading, Publishing, Gaming: academic digital challenges

Paul Dilley, University of Iowa, Presiding

Richard Bautch, St. Edward’s University
Gameplay, Biblical Text, and What Drives the Prophet: How Students Turned Call Narratives into a Video Game

James F. McGrath, Butler University
Can the Dynamics of Canon Formation be Replicated through Game Mechanics? An Experiment in Gamified Pedagogy

Katherine Jones, George Washington University
Likely Lies: A Statistical Analysis of the Prevalence of Modern Forgeries

Claire Clivaz, Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics
Academic publishing in an Open Access world : a partnership approach

John Dyer, Durham University
The Habits and Hermeneutics of Digital Bible Readers: Comparing Print and Screen Engagement, Comprehension, and Behavior

*Edited on 15/6/2017 to add the full participant list for ‘Avoiding Deception’ panel, and on 16/6/2017 to add the session on ‘Public Scholarship in the New Media’.

 

 

 

Following the trail of Simonides to the State Library of Victoria

Recently we visited the State Library of Victoria (who we thank for their help and hospitality) to inspect a small archive of papers relating to the mid-nineteenth century manuscript forger Constantine Simonides. The papers once belonged to the London chemist and prominent microscopist Henry Deane, and chronicle his attempts to test the authenticity of some of the manuscripts which had been alleged to have been forged by Simonides, principally the palimpsest manuscript of the Kings of Egypt by Uranius, as well as some of the papyri from the Joseph Mayer collection in Liverpool.

Wyburd, Francis John, 1826-1893; Henry Deane (1807-1874), President of the Pharmaceutical Society (1853-1855)
Henry Deane Sr, a painting by Francis John Wyburd (1826–1893) in the Royal Pharmaceutical Society Museum (https://artuk.org)

Although these manuscripts are now universally agreed to be forgeries, and the Uranius had already been declared to be such by German scholars well before Deane began to examine it in 1862, the issue of their authenticity was very much alive in England in the early 1860’s, chiefly promoted by John Eliot Hodgkin, a Liverpudlian businessman and collector antiquities, who was the chief supporter of Simonides and his manuscripts in England at this time. Hodgkin engaged Deane, as well as his fellow scientists Francis Wenham and Richard Beck, to determine the authenticity of the manuscript. While the others declared it a forgery, Deane wrote a report asserting it was genuine. The manuscript of Deane’s report, along with briefer reports from Wenham and Beck, is now contained in the State Library, along with a small archive of letters, mainly from Hodgkin to Deane, concerning the latter’s work. These range over 1863 and 1864, and chronicle the progression in Deane’s opinions on the Uranius from his firm statement of its authenticity in 1863, to a complete reversal of this position – to the dismay of Hodgkin – in the following year.

1250 Deane
The old Deane and Co building, Clapham. Source: http://paintedsignsandmosaics.blogspot.com.au. Image: Sebastien Ardouin

What are these papers doing in Melbourne, far from Clapham Common in London where Deane had his Pharmacy (which functioned as a chemist up until 1986, and whose sign can still be seen at 17 The Pavement Clapham)? Deane’s son, Henry Deane Jr, emigrated to Australia in the 1880’s, where he worked over the succeeding decades to build the railway network in New South Wales, including the (now sadly dismantled) Sydney tram system. He retired to Victoria, and made a gift of his father’s papers on the Simonides affair to the then Public Library of Victoria. His name lives on round Sydney in Henry Deane Plaza in the city, and a swish cocktail lounge in Millers Point.

These papers help tell a small part of the story of the attempt to scientifically authenticate the Simonides manuscript, which will be supplemented by the other side of the correspondence, which we will read again in the British Library when we visit England in September. And as we continue this work, we’ll bear in mind this connection with 19th century Australia, and the story behind these letters being in Victoria.

Malcolm and Rachel.

Markers of Authenticity Seminar, 2/6/17

This Friday 2nd of June at 4:00–5:30 pm, the Markers of Authenticity seminar series continues in X5B 321 (Museum of Ancient Cultures Seminar Room, Macquarie University), with a paper sharing insights from the first six months of work on the new  Australian Research Council Discovery Project ‘Forging Antiquity: Authenticity, forgery and fake papyri’.

‘Forging Antiquity: Insights from a new ARC Discovery Project’

Malcolm Choat, Rachel Yuen-Collingridge, and Vanessa Mawby (Department of Ancient History, Macquarie University)

The Australian Research Council Discovery project ‘Forging Antiquity: Authenticity, forgery and fake papyri’, a collaboration between Macquarie University and the University of Heidelberg, began in early 2017 with a study of two early modern scholars, Pierre Hamon and Jean Mabillon, and the earliest forged papyrus in the modern age. The treatment of the papyrus by these two scholars illuminates the emergence of methods and resources for the authentification of documents which are still in use today. By comparing the techniques developed to both construct and uncover the forgery, we will demonstrate how the two processes are entwined and provide salient lessons about the communication and reception of scientific practice.

CfP: Panel on Forgeries at SBL Annual Meeting

Papers are invited for a panel on forgeries to be held at this year’s Society of Biblical Literature Meeting in Boston in November as part  of the ‘Papyrology and Early Christian Backgrounds’ program unit. The panel will feature papers by members of two international projects on forged ancient manuscripts, ‘The Lying Pen of Scribes’, and ‘Forging Antiquity’, and further papers are invited on topics related to the theme: these could be examinations of forged ancient manuscripts or narratives of forgery, discussions of the relationship between provenance and authenticity, or other related topics. The call for papers closes on 8th March 2017. To propose a paper in the panel, head to the SBL site; questions about the panel may be directed to Malcolm Choat.

2016: The year in Authenticity and Provenance

2016 was a big year for issues of the authenticity and provenance of antiquities. Below are some of the highlights as they seemed to us. There were many others of course, such as many reports of art forgeries and deauthentication; or Matt Sheedy’s leveraging of his reading of Aaron Hughes’ Islam and the Tyranny of Authenticity into reflections on ‘Trump and the Tyranny of Authenticity’. There were also many other excellent commentaries on the events we discussed below in addition to what we link.

Locally, our Markers of Authenticity seminar series had an excellent year – you can read a summary here. Watch out for the new book by one of our 2016 presenters Margie Borschke, This is not a Remix: Piracy, Authenticity and Popular Music, in 2017. Elsewhere, the ‘Lying Pen of Scribes’ project based at the University of Agder in Norway held two outstanding conferences, on ‘Manuscript Forgeries and Counterfeiting Scripture in the Twenty-First Century’ in April and ‘Fragments of an Unbelievable Past? Constructions of Provenance, Narratives of Forgery’ in September (read Roberta Mazza’s report on the latter here). As well as the Macquarie-Heidelberg project ‘Forging Antiquity’ (funded by the Australian Research Council 2017–2019) and the Norwegian ‘Lying Pen of Scribes’ project, other concentrations of research of the forgery of antiquities became apparent, such as the Rice University Seminar program for 2017–2018 on Forgery and the Ancient: Art, Agency, Authorship. Alongside Christopher Rollston’s forthcoming book Forging History in the Ancient World of the Bible & the Modern World of Biblical Studies, the study of forgeries is progressing very well in many places.

Isis, the antiquities trade, and digital replicas

The trade in looted antiquities, the destruction of cultural heritage, and the replication of destroyed heritage, was kept in the news by ISIS’s occupation of Palmyra until March, when they were driven out by the Syrian and Russian armies (as they were by the Iraqi army from Nimrud, which also suffered heavy damage); yet by December, ISIS had regained control of the city. Much of the media coverage reproduced the hyperbolic assessments of the financial scale of ISIS’s trade in antiquities, (see the discussions by Chris Jones and Fiona Rose-Greenland), and occasioned debate over whether the West cared more about ancient ruins than living people (see e.g. Michael D. Press here and here). Alongside the trade in looted antiquities (often attributed to ISIS regardless of whether that was chronologically plausible or not), a large upsurge in the production of forgeries coming from Syria was also reported.

In response to the destruction of iconic Palymyrene artefacts such as the monumental arch, a replica, created by the Institute for Digital Archaeology, was displayed in London and New York. While many praised the potential of such replicas to restore destroyed cultural heritage (for another initiative see here), others questioned the ethics of the industry of recreating lost heritage (see the article by Sarah Bond here). Earlier in the year, digital replicas had been in the news when two artist released a 3D scan of the head of Nefertiti in the Neues Museum Berlin which the artists involved, Nora Al-Badri and Jan Nikolai Nelles, claimed had been ‘scanned … clandestinely … without permission of the Museum’. Yet it soon became clear that what had been distributed was the Museum’s own high resolution scan, raising issues about the ownership of such digital reproductions.

Here too, in the realm of looting and the antiquities trade, dedicated academic interest is heartening, such as the Past for Sale and MANTIS projects at Chicago.

Unprovenanced and forged papyri

Roberta Mazza continued her focus on papyrological provenance, including a presentation at the International Congress of Papyrology in Barcelona. There were also some excellent contributions on the post-2002 ‘Dead Seas Scrolls’ by Eibert Tigchelaar, Kipp Davis, and Årstein Justnes. By far the biggest splash in the year was Ariel Sabar masterful unmasking of the owner of the “Gospel of Jesus’ wife”. Sabar focused his investigations not on the authenticity of the papyrus itself, but on the provenance, demonstrating that – as a number of people had suspected – at least one of the documents attesting to the acquisition history of the papyrus appeared to be itself a forgery. Much more remains to be told of this story (see our thoughts on the implications here), and we were pleased to learn Sabar is working on a book about the whole affair.

In October, a sensational papyrus was publicised, which purported to be ‘the earliest extra-biblical source to mention Jerusalem in Hebrew writing’, dated by the editors, by palaeography and C14, to the 7th century BCE. No sooner had it been made public, then its authenticity was questioned. The papyrus provided scholars with many of the elements which not uncommonly (but not always) point to forgery: an obscure and contradictory provenance story (which was promptly problematised further), sensationalist claims in the media (including its immediate use in controversy over the UNESCO resolution on Occupied Palestine, illustrating the continued and troubling use of antiquity in modern debates), language which was at points unexpected, and oddities in the layout of the text on the papyrus. These suggested to a number of commentators, notably Christopher Rollston (here, with follow-up here), that it could be a forgery.

Late in the year we saw the return of the ‘Jordanian Lead codices’, who most academic commentators had assumed were forgeries when they were first publicised in 2011. They certainly seemed to have many of the same hallmarks of forgery pointed to on the ‘Jerusalem’ papyrus, though here, the relationship with previously known text and images seemed even more clear. Yet the reemergence of these texts in the media drew forth comment from those who had been studying the codices at the Centre for the Study of the Jordanian Lead Books, in particular a statement by Samuel Zinner which accused David Elkington (the source of the media coverage) of both sensationalism and plagiarism, and set forth a case for authenticity for at least some of the codices (the statement was posted on academia.edu, but has now been removed; a cached version may be viewed here). Notwithstanding the new testing of the lead, it’s fair to say some remained to be convinced (including us), but we should await (hopefully not for too long) the outcome of the proper investigation of the material.

Policy

In policy terms, the big news was the signing by the US and Egypt of a Memorandum of Understanding on cultural property protection in late November, which placed limitations on the import of a large range of antiquities (listed here) dating from the Predynastic to the incorporation of Egypt into the Ottoman Empire (1517 CE). While it was (predictably) decried by antiquities trade advocates, the MOU constituted an important limit on the trade in illicit antiquities, and those who advocated for it deserve thanks. This overshadowed the passing of a new German law on the protection of cultural property, which had implications for the trade in antiquities.

Over the last three years, Malcolm has had the privilege of sitting on the Society of Biblical Literature’s Task Force on Unprovenanced Artifacts, which had considered how the SBL should respond to this issue: in September, the SBL announced that it was endorsing and adopting the American Schools of Oriental Research Policy on Professional Conduct, which includes sections on the stewardship of archaeological material and unprovenanced artifacts. The statement distributed by the SBL focused on moveable artifacts, and noted that section III, parts D and E were to be applied to SBL’s Programs and Publications in the future: yet sections III.B and C, on Stewardship and Discovery, also contain very important principles which it is hoped members of the SBL will follow in the future. The SBL policy will be reviewed in two years, and there are many aspects to ponder in that time, including the degree to which the Stewardship and Discovery sections of the ASOR policy will observed by members of the SBL, and whether or not anything like the ‘cuneiform exception’ in the ASOR policy would be considered for textual artefacts commonly discussed at the SBL, especially papyri: without wanting to telegraph our position or pre-empt the debate, we are not clear on what grounds such an exception could be credibly argued. As Michael D. Press noted in two excellent posts on the SBL policy (here and here), it is unlikely that the SBL community will move quickly (if indeed at all) to totally restrict the presentation of unprovenanced artifacts in SBL venues: but if the policy helps (as it seems to be doing already) to promote awareness of the problems associated with the use of such artefacts (especially those which have appeared on the market recently) then that will have been a very useful outcome.

The adoption of this policy by the SBL means that most professional associations and societies for the study of ancient world have some form of statement which regulates their members’ interaction with antiquities. An exception has been the International Association for Coptic Studies, but at the July meeting of IACS, Malcolm and Paola Buzi were charged with developing such a policy for future considering by the membership.

It’s been a big year of developments in discussions around authenticity, forgery, provenance, and the antiquities trade, and we look forward to seeing what emerges in the New Year. See you all in 2017!

Malcolm, Rachel, and Lauren.