On Wednesday 9th December, at 7 pm Australian Eastern Daylight time (Sydney) = 9 am Central European time (Vienna) = 8 am GMT (London) = 10 am Egypt (and very early morning in the US and Canada…) Malcolm Choat will give a paper in the FORVM ANTIKE online seminar series hosted by the Department of Ancient History and the Department of Numismatics at the University of Vienna, on the topic ‘A Forger, his models, methods, and motives: The papyri of Constantine Simonides’.
This online paper will be hosted on the Collaborate platform, and the session may be joined at this link. Please join us online to hear about the Forging Antiquity team’s latest research on Simonides and his papyri!
This Tuesday, 24 November, 2020, we invite you to a special online talk hosted by Markers of Authenticity and the Platform Intimacies Research Initiative through the Faculty of Arts, Macquarie University, by Dr Mariele Pfannebecker, from Manchester.
Her paper will discuss how digitally managed desire structures the lives we lead working and not working online. In her talk, she wants to look at how forms of online posting that blur the line between work and play – like that of internet celebrity – function paradigmatically to show how the material and psychological structure of employment is changing in ways that affect all workers. Second, she’ll discuss how internet platforms’ algorithmic putting to work of what we want, from search engines to social media, suffers from a pre-Freudian theory of desire that fails to anticipate the effects of a digitalised pleasure principle.
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.
For our second Markers of Authenticity seminar for 2019, we’ll turn our attention to the concept of risk and how risk is made meaningful to us from Renaissance Italy through to the cyber security frontlines of today. Join us on Friday 24th May, 4–6pm, for a cross-faculty seminar sponsored by the Centre for Ancient Cultural Heritage and the Environment in the Australian Hearing Hub, Level 5, Rm 212.
How Unknown was the Unknown Future? Cheats and Frauds in Renaissance Italy
Dr Nicholas Baker, Department of Modern History, Politics and International Relations.
According to the sixteenth-century Church, gambling was problematic because it was immoral and sinful; but according to most other Renaissance sources the real problem with gambling was not metaphysical but rather the fact that frequently the odds were not equal but rigged through deception, fraud, or cheating. I will reflect on how sixteenth-century Italians thought about risk in relation to financial speculation on apparently unknown future outcomes.
Since the widespread adoption of the Internet in the 1990s, government, businesses and society have all become exposed to significant and growing cybersecurity risks which undermine our concepts of trust and authenticity. Cyber-criminals have sought to exploit our trust in other humans so as to steal money through a variety of scams, such as romance fraud, phishing, whaling and business email compromises. Businesses have sought to exploit our desire for “free” services and authentic social interactions so as to engage in surveillance capitalism. Governments have struggled to accurately identify these criminal attackers, creating an attribution problem which threatens the viability of the cyber-insurance industry. This presentation will give a very brief introduction to these complex problems with the goal of stimulating an interdisciplinary discussion of how we might better study, understand and solve them.
For our first Markers of Authenticity seminar for 2019, we’ll be considering how collaborative memory works in practice. Join us on Friday 12th April 4–6 pm for a special seminar presented in conjunction with the Centre for Applied History and sponsored by the Centre for Ancient Cultural Heritage and the Environment in the Australian Hearing Hub, Level 5, Rm 212.
How do family historians work with memory?
A/Prof. Tanya Evans(Department of Modern History, Politics, and International Relations, Macquarie University; Director, Centre for Applied History)
Drawing on survey data and oral history interviews undertaken with family historians in Australia, England and Canada this talk will explore the ways in which family historians construct memories using diverse sources in their research. It will show how they utilise oral history, archival documents, material culture and explorations of space to construct and reconstruct family stories and to make meaning of the past. It will ask whether they undertake critical readings of these sources when piecing together their families’ stories and reveal the impact of that work on individual subjectivities, the construction of historical consciousness and the broader social value of family history scholarship. Global family history challenges the patriarchal, nation-focussed, state-driven historical scholarship we discover so easily in our formal archives and libraries. How might family historians reshape our knowledge on memory and the history of the family in the 21st century?
“Remember when…?” How reminiscing with mothers and others supports young children’s memory and emotion development
A/Prof. Penny Van Bergen (SFHEA, Department of Educational Studies, Macquarie University; Director, Centre for Children’s Learning in a Social World)
Memory is a critically important aspect of our lives. We share memories with one another multiple times a day: building emotional bonds, eliciting sympathy or empathy, and problem solving for the future. As parents and teachers, we also scaffold and support young children’s emerging memory narratives. I extend on this past research in two ways. First, I consider implications for emotion development. I show how reminiscing about emotional past events (e.g. fights with friends, getting in trouble) may be a particularly rich forum for developing emotion competence. Next, I extend from mothers to others. Working with teachers, fathers, and other children, I show how a range of socialising agents support children’s memory.
Last year I had the opportunity to work as a research intern on the ARC Discovery Project, ‘Forging Antiquity: Authenticity, forgery and fake papyri’ through the Macquarie University PACE program with A/Prof. Malcolm Choat and Dr. Rachel Yuen-Collingridge. This internship exposed me to a wide range of forged manuscripts and allowed me to develop new and existing research skills.
The first forgeries I examined were papyri from the University of Michigan collection. They appeared to be in Greek, but I struggled to make any sense of them. I was relieved to learn soon after that these particular texts were nonsensical and were made to only superficially resemble Greek documents. I learned that many forgeries of this kind were produced and included in auction lots of papyri in Egypt during the 19th and early 20th centuries to enhance their perceived value. I spent much of my time working on the database squinting at high resolution images of papyri, observing fibre direction and searching for traces of ancient ink. I had to consult a wide range of printed and digital papyrological media (occasionally written in Italian, French, Russian or German). By the end of the internship, research assistant Vanessa Mawby and I had collected data for 180 forgeries. Among these were compositions and copied texts written on a variety of materials in Greek, Demotic, Hieratic and Coptic.
My second task was to transcribe one of Constantine Simonides’ forged biblical manuscripts. While Simonides’ hand was relatively easy to read, the text was severely worn or missing in many places. Simonides often misjudges the size of lacunae, including or omitting too much of the text. This was an excellent opportunity, and indeed my first, to study a manuscript in detail, taking into consideration its paleography, materiality and layout.
My final task was to prepare a display and catalogue description for a suspected forgery in the Macquarie collection for the exhibition ‘Faking It: Forgeries and artefacts in dialogue.’ MU2893 is a marble votive tabula ansata commemorating the thanksgiving of a certain Marcus Valerius Parthenius to Urania. If authentic, it likely dates to the third or fourth century CE. In addition to producing arguments for and against its authenticity, I investigated its acquisition and publication history and the market history of tabulae ansatae more generally. Finally, I considered the ethical implications of the item’s purchase on the antiquities market.
As an intern with the project, it was my great pleasure to attend the conference ‘Manuscripts from the Margins: How to edit a forgery’ and the subsequent public day of lectures ‘Faking It’ (Sept. 20–22, 2018). I was pleased to learn more about the increasingly sophisticated methods of today’s forgers, namely their recycling and simulation of ancient mediums. I was inspired by the argument that unprovenanced texts should be flagged as potential forgeries in future editions and avoided by scholars in the formulation of historical arguments.
Of all the lessons I took away from the internship, the most important one was the (often-overlooked) cultural value of forgeries. The finest examples are works of great skill, knowledge and creativity. More importantly, they often offer fascinating insight into how learned individuals and/or their communities have imagined the distant past.
Today marks the Launch of the Exhibition ‘Portraits of Recovery‘ for Macquarie University Centre for Emotional Health as part of wellbeing week at MQ. At 1pm on Level 3, MUSE building, 18 Wally’s Walk, Professor Jennie Hudson will launch the exhibition by Artist in Residence Joe Lander. These incredible portraits are accompanied by stories of men’s experiences of depression, anxiety, and suicidality and aim at reducing the stigma associated with depression, anxiety, and suicide.
The project will be featured in our final Markers of Authenticity event for 2018, the Spectacle of Science. Go along to the launch today and support this fantastic project!
On Thursday, October 11, at 4:00pm – 6:00pm (Australian Hearing Hub, Level 5, Room 212, Macquarie University) the Markers of Authenticity Seminar Series will continue with two speakers, Dr Alicia Marchant (ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions: Europe 1100–1800, University of Western Australia) and Dr Emily O’Gorman (Department of Geography & Planning, Macquarie University).
Our theme for this seminar is the Authenticity of Landscape. Our speakers will be discussing the way that landscape is understood and idealised, as well as how particular configurations of and stages in the development of a landscape are held up as authentic, original, and desirable. The speakers will address these issues in the following papers.
Alicia Marchant, ‘John Hardyng’s Scotland: Landscape, Heritage and Authenticity in the Fifteenth Century’
In 1457, Northumbrian knight John Hardyng (d. c.1465) employed a cartographer to create a map of Scotland for inclusion in his recently completed chronicle history of Britain. This bright, ornate map depicts Scotland as an appealing, prosperous and productive landscape of lochs and mountains, thick-walled castles, towers and churches. Far from straightforward, this map displays a landscape with a complex cultural and natural heritage, imbued with English colonialism, focalised through the eyes of its creator. What Hardyng desired most through the creation of this cartographic image was to convince successive English kings to gather an army and invade the land that it charted. Alongside the map and chronicle, Hardyng submitted legal documents that he claimed to have collected in Scotland but which turn out to be forged. The case of Hardyng and his failed interventions in English politics raise intriguing questions regarding authenticity, heritage and landscape.
Emily O’Gorman, ‘Towards a genealogy of wetlands: Categories of conservation, bird migration and global environmental crisis’
This paper offers a genealogy of wetlands, in particular focusing on how it became a category of conservation, shaped by understandings of bird migration and an emerging sense of a global environmental crises in the 1960s and 1970s. It situates this discussion within experiences in Australia, where changing understandings of transcontinental bird migrations, Pacific diplomacy, and ideas of habitats and habitat loss, converged to shape government scientists’ involvement in the Ramsar Convention of Wetlands of International Importance 1971. This paper examines wetlands as a category defined by and laden with specific sets of values, shaped by particular expertise and relationships with certain animals and plants, and deeply connected with Australasian and Pacific circulations, both human and more-than-human.
On Thursday, August 30, at 4:00pm – 6:00pm (Australian Hearing Hub, Level 5, Room 212, Macquarie University) the Markers of Authenticity Seminar Series will continue with two speakers, Associate Professor Clare Monagle (Department of Modern History, Macquarie University) and Dr Aydogan Kars (Centre for Religious Studies, Monash University).
Our theme for this seminar is the Authenticity of Faith, that is the way that faith is recognised and policed in various systems. We will have the following papers on the topic.
Clare Monagle, ‘Faith and Empathy: Distance and Proximity in narrating Christianity in the Middle Ages’.
It is a dated cliche, historiographically, to describe the period we call the Middle Ages as an ‘Age of Faith’. Scholars have rightly rejected the hegemonic idea of a uniform age, instead seeking out the myriad forms of belief and practice inhering through the latin west between roughly 500 and 1500 of the Common Era. But, this deconstruction notwithstanding, it remains necessary to encounter faith as a category of analysis in the Middle Ages, because it is often the only thing that explains a great number of political and social realities. That is, the order of society was informed at a profound level by Christian notions of truth, that underscored the legitimacy of power in the period. My paper will think about the way that contemporary historians make sense of faith in the Middle Ages, drawing upon recent work in the history of emotions and affect to do so. I will also explore, however, the critique of these approaches offered by self-proclaimed Christian believers, who insist that one can only know the Middle Ages if one knows what it is to have faith. At stake, are a number of discourses of authenticity and historical empathy.
Aydogan Kars, ‘Contemporary Debates on Religious Authenticity: Experiences, Institutions, Languages’
This talk introduces the current frontiers of scholarship in the study of religious authenticity, focusing on the relationship between religious experiences, institutions, and languages. First, it elaborates on the nature of authentic religious experiences, comparing the two prominent paradigms set by Emile Durkheim and William James, and introducing more recent contributions of cognitive science. Are such experiences fundamentally social, or individualistic? Second, my talk addresses the relationship between established religious institutions and authentic religious experiences. Do social institutions condition religious experiences, or is it such authentic experiences that create those institutions? Finally, it compares universalist and constructivist approaches to religious authenticity by focusing on the ways in which language relates to religious experience. Are mystical utterances authentic markers of pre-conceptual (or ineffable) experiences, or are these experiences already shaped and conditioned by language? By exploring these still debated questions, this talk introduces where we are in the academic study of religious authenticity.
On Thursday, August 2, at 5:00pm – 7:00pm (Australian Hearing Hub, Level 5, Room 212, Macquarie University) the Markers of Authenticity Seminar Series will recommence for Semester 2, 2018 with two speakers, Associate Professor Jay Johnston from the Department of Studies in Religion, University of Sydney, and Dr Ian Stephen from the Department of Psychology, Macquarie University.
Our theme this seminar is the Authenticity of Identity, that is the way identity is performed, construed, inferred, enacted, recognised, and regulated by society. At issue is the relationship between appearance and the self and how the former may be used to affirm or deflect the latter. Associate Professor Johnston’s paper ‘Slippery Species: Considering Human–Non-Human Identity as a Contemporary Spiritual Subculture’ and Dr Stephen’s paper ‘Are our faces and bodies authentic markers of identity?’ consider the ways in which we understand how identity can be externalised at the level of body and face and the processes we engage in when making judgements about appearances. These papers are shadowed by the complicated politics of authenticity brought into being by the baggage of mind-body dualism. From the perspective of religious studies and evolutionary psychology, these papers look at the way authenticity is crafted in skin.