Ethical Partnerships in the Modern University

Growing attention to the questionable acquisitions practices of the Hobby Lobby and the Green family for the creation of the Museum of the Bible highlights both the scale of the problem and the degree to which current polices fail to prevent such activities. In spite of advice from Patty Gerstenblith, an expert on cultural property law, in 2010 the Hobby Lobby purchased over five thousand ancient Iraqi artefacts of suspect provenance and shipped them under false or misleading labels to obscure their country of origin and content. Questions about the Hobby Lobby and the Green Scholars Initiative have been raised by papyrologists for some time now (see the work of Roberta Mazza among others), following the announcement of the publication of a new Sappho fragment in 2014. Whilst dubious private collections are by no means a novel feature of the academic landscape, questions about the ethics of engaging with such collections are becoming more prominent. The role of academics and institutions in the implicit laundering of artefacts through authentification and publication is increasingly coming under greater scrutiny. Such a rapidly shifting ethical landscape runs the risk of stranding people on the wrong side of the divide, especially those whose disadvantaged position in the academy (the great itinerant insecure workforce shimmering under the sandstone establishment) incentivises publication and funding at any risk.

In Australia with increased cuts to the government funding of higher education, many universities are encouraging researchers to seek a greater proportion of their funding from private donors, industry and philanthropic organisations. The proven ability of researchers (and / or departments) to attract external funding has become the central performance indicator for jobs, promotions and further funding support. But what does this do to the ethical landscape of our universities?

The influence of industry over the shape and endurance of research programs in the sciences has been obvious enough. Less attention however has been devoted to the impact of private money on humanities research. Politically motivated research is not new, but its current manifestation in the research landscape may be less obvious than classic examples of imperially sponsored history. Private funding without oversight can influence everything from the areas studied, the research funded, the courses offered and the questions asked. The destruction of mummy masks by scholars and students within the orbit of the Green’s enterprise in order to recover the improbable Christian papyri they sought  (as Mazza and others have noted, no Christian papyri have been found in such a context) represents one case in which ideology determined which aspect of the past was worthy of survival.

Now, any archaeological or interpretative consideration of antiquity involves a choice of focus. The latter engagement is less likely to involve a choice with catastrophic consequences for any focus which isn’t selected. Archaeology too, when done responsibly, *should* aim to preserve as much as possible and ground any unavoidable destruction in exhaustive and rigorous reasoning. *Should*.  The destruction of the Coptic monastic remains in 1902 at the site of Deir el-Bahri by Naville on behalf of the Egypt Exploration Fund in order to recover Hatshepsut’s temple (as a major tourist attraction) is a key example of what can happen.

The manipulation of the past is much more apparent when it comes in material form. However, we should be just as concerned, if not more so, with the largely invisible manipulations caused by the subordination of institutions to private interests. For researchers this means asking difficult questions about where the available funding we are applying for comes from and whether it comes with strings attached. It involves asking whether we are endorsing particular organisations and activities by accepting such funding. It pushes us to think about how complicit we are in legitimising particular groups. It means, above all, thinking about the best way to create transparent relationships with external partners which protect our research integrity.

This means thinking a little bit more about what research and teaching integrity looks like for a particular department and a particular researcher. What does it mean to develop a teaching and research program organically and in response to the needs of the field and to the needs of the broader community (rather than the needs of the budget and cashed-up specialist interest groups within that community)?

Increasingly universities are being asked to demonstrate their relevance and significance to the broader community and universities are using their record of external funding to answer that question. However, private and industry funders do not a broad Australian public make.

Private funding should not and will never be eliminated from universities. The peculiarity of popular politics in the last few decades would seem to point to the value of having sources of funding available outside those determined by the government of the day. Many donors, industry partners, and philanthropic organisations engage with universities for the best possible reasons and in pursuit of exactly the sorts of goals researchers would applaud. Things go wrong, however, when the purpose and value of the university as an independent institution gets forgotten or co-opted in the politics of laundering someone else’s agenda. Academics have a responsibility in all this; in formulating, understanding, and protecting what is unique about the institution in its most ideal form.

Rachel

Markers of Authenticity – Semester 2 Schedule 2017

MoABanner

August 14, 2:00–4:00 pm, AHH 5.212:Faking the News’ with Dr Colin Klein (Philosophy) and Dr Margie Borschke (MMCCS)

September 5, 4:00–6:00 pm, AHH 5.212: ‘The Authentic Terrorist?: Mobilising the Past, Battling for the Future’ with Dr Julian Droogan (SSC)

October 13–14, X5B 321: ‘IMAGINING THE REAL: ALTERNATIVE (ARTE)FACTS FROM ANTIQUITY TO THE PRESENT DAY’, a two day symposium with keynote lecture by Prof. John Melville Jones

October 26, 4:00–6:00 pm, AHH 5.212: ‘Creative Authenticity: Originality and the Real’ with Dr. Mio Bryce (INTS) and Dr Ilona Hongisto (MMCCS)

November 2, 6:00–9:00 pm, TBA‘Authenticity of Experience: History and Gaming’ with Dr Rowan Tulloch (MMCCS), Daniel Keogh (Educational Games Designer, 3P Learning), and Abbie Hartman (MHPIR)

November 9, 4:00–6:00 pm, AHH Lvl 5, Board Room: ‘Authenticity of Desire’ with Dr Thomas Baudinette (INTS), Dr Karin Sellberg (Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, UQ) and Dr Chelsea Barnett (Modern History)

Fake Out: Misinformation and Belief

Our first seminar for the second semester of Markers of Authenticity will take place this Monday, the 14th of August, from 2–4pm in our new premises in the Australian Hearing Hub, Level 5, Seminar Room 212. 

This week Dr Colin Klein (Philosophy) and Dr Margie Borschke (MMCCS) will be talking to us about the phenomenon of Fake News. 

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Is fake news real? Is it a meaningful category? What does it mean to ‘fake’ the news? Is it a problem of consumption or production? Now that ‘fake news’ is ‘old news’, what can we learn from this transformation of our media discourse about the tangling of reason and belief in our everyday experience of the world? This workshop examines these issues from media and cognitive perspectives, revisiting questions about authenticity, truth, rhetoric, belief and objectivity in academia and the world.

My internship on the ‘Forging Antiquity’ Project

For the first half of 2017, Vanessa Mawby participated in the ‘Forging Antiquity’ Project as an undergraduate intern within Macquarie University’s PACE Program. Below she reflects on her experience during the internship.

This semester I was given the opportunity to work as a project 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. Primarily, I was tasked with creating an index of the ‘Recueil d’anciennes écritures’, a 16th century manuscript by Pierre Hamon, and reuniting the copies he made with original manuscripts and artefacts. The process was a little grueling but rewarding nonetheless, and honestly, it felt like detective work.

On opening the manuscript you are immediately bombarded with all sorts of crazy scripts and alphabets. Hamon labels some as ‘Latin’, but they looked so foreign, I had to take his word for it. Another immediate hurdle was learning to read Hamon’s own challenging cursive script, in which his difficult 16th century French was written. But as the weeks rolled by, Hamon and I developed a working relationship where I was becoming accustomed to his way of writing, and slowly deciphering the alphabets. I’m not exaggerating when I say that with every alphabet/deciphered, there’d be actual whoops of joy in the office.

The next big step was locating the manuscripts from which Hamon had copied the alphabets and sample texts appearing in his own collection. We knew a lot of them were likely to be held now by the Bibliothèque Nationale de France archives, but I’m going to be honest; trawling through the thousands of manuscripts and other artefacts in the archive, and painstakingly comparing them to Hamon’s work seemed a task too large to even approach. Luckily for me, I was equipped with an article by H. Omont, which gave a partial guide to which artefacts Hamon was copying, and in some cases, even a BnF archive number.

After numerous twists and turns leading to dead ends, medieval runes, and even Roman inscriptions, the index was mostly complete and it was time to turn to translating a Latin work by Bartholemew Germon, an 18th century Jesuit scholar, who discussed the authenticity of an extract of the charta plenariae securitatis which appears in Hamon’s manuscript. After weeks of dealing with Hamon’s fascinating and strange manuscript, it was almost a relief to be reading Latin, albeit 18th century Latin.

ForgeryPaperTeam
Vanessa Mawby (left), with Rachel Yuen-Collingridge and Malcolm Choat, Markers of Authenticity Seminar Series, 2/6/17, Museum of Ancient Cultures, Macquarie University

To complete my semester as a project intern, I presented a short paper alongside my supervisors at a Markers of Authenticity seminar hosted at Macquarie University. I’d never presented before, let alone with a team, so it was a nerve-racking experience to say the least. But I found that presenting as a team provided a safety net for me, and the successful presentation showcased our collaborative work.

If this internship has taught me anything about forgers and the relationship between disciplinary practice, it’s that there’s so much more to the ‘forger’ and their ‘forgeries’ than can be immediately assumed. Instead of generating new texts from scratch, as I had previously supposed, the ‘forgeries’ in Hamon’s manuscript display his method of excerpting texts and stitching pieces together to create new texts, which are only minutely different from their authentic counterparts. This discovery broadened my understanding of the many ways in which forgeries can be made.

Next semester, although completing my PACE activity, I will be staying on the project as a research assistant for the next phase of the project on Constantine Simonides. It’s sad to be saying good-bye to Hamon, but I don’t think any of us will yet be able to say, ‘case closed’.

Vanessa Mawby

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

Edit: With AARSBL2017 fast approaching, and with the final timetable now in place, I’ve updated the list below to include venues and new times for some panels. There are some unfortunate clashes between panels with related content, but to the extent that this testifies to the importance these issues are now assuming for the field (i.e. there’s so many panels on related issues that some of them have to clash), that’s a good thing.

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.

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).

S18-235 Papyrology and Early Christian Backgrounds
11/18/2017
1:00 PM to 3:15 PM
Dartmouth (Third Level) – Boston Marriott Copley Place (MCP)

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

 

S19-147a Scholarship, Archaeology, and New Media
11/19/2017
9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Tremont (First Level) – Boston Marriott Copley Place (MCP)

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
309 (Third Level) – Hynes Convention Center (HCC)

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

 

S19-335 Redescribing Early Christianity
11/19/2017
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Belvidere B (Second Level) – Hilton Boston Back Bay

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
Clarendon (Third Level) – Sheraton Boston Hotel (SB)

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
9:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Adams A (Third Level) – Hilton Boston Back Bay (HBB)

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, Messiah College, Panelist

Ariel Sabar, The Atlantic, Panelist

 

S20-204a Avoiding Deception: Forgeries, Fake News, and Unprovenanced Material in Religious Studies
11/20/2017
1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Orleans (Fourth Level) – Boston Marriott Copley Place (MCP)

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

 

S20-322 Hebrew Bible, History, and Archaeology
11/20/2017
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
105 (Plaza Level) – Hynes Convention Center (HCC)

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
Dalton (Third Level) – Sheraton Boston Hotel (SB)

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’ (now called ‘Scholarship, Archaeology, and New Media’). Edited on 6/11/2017 to update all details, rearrange sessions in date order, and adjust opening paragraph slightly.

 

 

 

 

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.