Jim Davila on the Lead Codices and the SOTS Letter to the Times


A photo of one of the lead codices found in Jo...

I have to agree with Jim.  Had I been at SOTS this Summer I would have declined to sign the letter to the Times as well.  Read his post, it’s quite good.  Here’s the core of the matter

I see two issues here. The first is the silence of the Jordanian Government about the metal codices. Since they were quitevocal about the importance of the finds initially, their subsequent silence is indeed noteworthy. My guess is that they have figured out that the codices are fakes and are just keeping quiet and hoping the whole issue goes away and spares them further embarrassment. If I am wrong, it would be helpful to hear what they do think and what they are currently doing about the codices, and to that extent I can support the central point of the letter. But I am not optimistic about the Jordanian authorities providing any important new information.

The second issue is the final sentence of the first paragraph of the letter: “There are many indications that these finds are not modern forgeries, but [that] possibility cannot as yet be definitively excluded.”* I know of no such “many indications that these finds are not modern forgeries.” Many of the codices, including the copper one first shown by Mr. Elkington to Classicist Peter Thonemann, are crude and obvious fakes. At least one of the lead ones seems to have been made of ancient lead, but the Oxford metallurgical report that says this (which was initially incorrectly quoted on the Jordan Codices Facebook page) also doubts that the inscribed areas on the lead went through a period of burial. In other words the evidence is consistent with old lead, which is not hard to come by, having been inscribed much more recently to make the codices. (For the report see the video here, especially from about 8:00 on. I make no judgment about how the incorrect quotation came about. See also here.)

Again, do read it all.