Tag Archives: Jordan

An Update on the ‘Lead Codices’

SOTS passes along this note from the inestimable Philip Davies on the codices.  Philip writes-

Prince Hussein addressed the Seventh World Archaeological Congress in Amman earlier this month. During a preliminary meeting of government officials and other interested parties, it was proposed that he should announce (a) that lead codices have been found in Jordan and were worthy of study; and (b) that scholars and institutes were invited to come and study them. Barbara Porter, the Director of ACOR (American Center of Oriental Research) urged the government not to make the announcement and so it was abandoned. The reason for this compliance, I understand, is that the government backed down is that it does not want to upset its relationship with ACOR, which has a great deal of influence in Jordan. It funds numerous excavations and bring a lot of money to Jordan.  ACOR became a private institution in 1993. No reason was given by Dr Porter for her veto and no public statements have been made by any party. Any members [of SOTS] with connections to ACOR or senior personnel may like to write and ask the reason for this action, which seems hard to understand.

Philip Davies

So, that’s the latest- just for those following the tale.

‘The Radical Minority’ in Islam? Maybe Not Such a Minority After All

Maybe it’s time to start speaking of a minority of Muslims who are NOT radicals, because it seems that most Muslims, at least in many places (where the survey mentioned below took place) are quite radical.

About eight-in-ten Muslims in Egypt and Pakistan (82% each) endorse the stoning of people who commit adultery; 70% of Muslims in Jordan and 56% of Nigerian Muslims share this view. Muslims in Pakistan and Egypt are also the most supportive of whippings and cutting off of hands for crimes like theft and robbery; 82% in Pakistan and 77% in Egypt favor making this type of punishment the law in their countries, as do 65% of Muslims in Nigeria and 58% in Jordan. When asked about the death penalty for those who leave the Muslim religion, at least three-quarters of Muslims in Jordan (86%), Egypt (84%) and Pakistan (76%) say they would favor making it the law; in Nigeria, 51% of Muslims favor and 46% oppose it. In contrast, Muslims in Lebanon, Turkey and Indonesia largely reject the notion that harsh punishments should be the law in their countries. About three-quarters of Turkish and Lebanese Muslims oppose the stoning of people who commit adultery (77% and 76%, respectively), as does a narrower majority (55%) of Muslims in Indonesia. Opposition to whippings and cutting off of hands for crimes like theft and robbery and the death penalty for people who leave Islam is even more widespread in these three countries; 86% of Muslims in Lebanon, 82% in Turkey and 61% in Indonesia are against making harsh punishments for robbery and theft the law in their countries, and 93%, 91% and 64%, respectively, object to the death penalty against those who leave the Muslim religion.

Radical ‘minority’?  It doesn’t seem so.  The real minority in Islam clearly appears to be those not living in the 14th century.

Elkington’s Claims Concerning the ‘Lead Codices’ Under Fire

If you’re following this strange sage of bogus artifacts peddled as the real deal, you must read this essay:

David Elkington, from Gloucestershire, has raised tens of thousands of pounds to support his work proving the authenticity of the Jordan Codices.  A BBC investigation found that academics have cast doubt on Mr Elkington’s claims the Codices date back to the 1st Century AD.  Mr Elkington insists the Codices are genuine and he will pay back any loans he has received. Among his backers was Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia, who funded his work and trips to the Middle East.  She now believes the Codices are not authentic and has asked for the return of her funding.

She could have saved her money had she simply asked around.  At any rate, read the whole piece.  With thanks to Danny McClellan for pointing it out on the twitter.

And in a related bit of fun-ness, just the other day Jim Aitken related on facebook-

From the Jordan Codices page. Intriguing:

It is with considerable regret that we must inform you that we will be shutting down the Jordan Codices Facebook Community page for the foreseeable future. We have appreciated your support and interest more than you can know in our earnest quest to protect these sacred artefacts against smuggling and being sold on the black market. We have done our utmost; however, we cannot go further without public support from Jordan herself. The British Team has been compromised in its efforts by the lack of an announcement revealing the nature of the scientific data. Out of respect for the Kingdom of Jordan, we are not at liberty to reveal these results ourselves. The British Team has made significant progress in both translation and scientific and historical analysis; however, we cannot continue to subject this discovery, nor its defenders, to biased media reports with hidden agendas and malicious allegations via internet and twitter trolls, whose reprehensible behaviour would see this hoard disappear into private hands or even destroyed. Again, our most sincere thanks for your support, from our large Coast-to-Coast radio followers to local support from Jordan and the Middle East – please do not give up hope.

Evidently the Lead people knew that the BBC was on their trail and they wanted to do damage control before the report aired. Too late. No one, except those with a particular financial interest in promoting the bogus pieces, will stand by them (in much the same way that certain people CONTINUE to insist the ‘James Ossuary’ is as advertised). Show me the money, and 9 times out of 10, I can show you the motive.

Joseph Blenkinsopp on the so Called ‘Lead Codices’

Viv Rowett, the Secretary of SOTS, sends along this word from Prof. B. on the recent interest of some in the Society on the ‘Lead Codices’

“On the subject of the lead codices: some members interested in these artifacts may not have seen the report of the exchange between David Elkington, who claims to have discovered them (either in Jordan or Egypt is not quite clear) and Peter Thonemann, an Oxford classicist from whom he solicited an opinion on their authenticity. It took Thonemann only half an hour to establish that a Greek inscription on the copper tablet was copied from a second century AD tombstone from Madaba in Jordan on view in the Archaeological Museum in Amman, and copied in a way which suggested that the copier did not know Greek. Thonemann’s verdict was that it probably originated in an Amman workshop some time over the last fifity years. The report is published in Times Literary Supplement April 8, 2011 and can be seen by googling Thonemann. The same conclusion was reached by The Jewish Chronicle but I do not have the reference. I have no opinion of my own on the issue.”

Naturally all of this is old news to readers here.  The Codices are modern trinkets and everyone but those with a financial interest in pimping them realizes this.  Nevertheless, since they, like a continuously returning bad penny, have arisen again, like a piece of excrement that just won’t flush, I thought it fitting to pass along Blenkinsopp’s remarks.

Members of the Society for Old Testament Study Call on Jordan to Release Information on the ‘Lead Codices’

Members of the Society for Old Testament Study have collectively, at the Summer Meeting which just concluded in Manchester, sent a letter to the Editor of the Times asking Jordan to release information relating to the so called ‘Lead Codices’.

The Letter appears with the signatures of C. T. R. Hayward, University of Durham; Professor J. R. Bartlett, Trinity College, Dublin; Dr Margaret Barker, Temple Studies Group; Dr Walter Houston, University of Manchester; and Dr Janet Tollington, University of Cambridge in the Times, with the full list of signatories included on the Times website and graciously provided by Jim Aitken via a Facebook group interested in the Codices:

CALL ON JORDAN TO BREAK ITS SILENCE – Letter to the Editor Published in The Times, 1 August 2012


It is a year or more since reports of the discovery of at least 40 lead codices, apparently found in Jordan and possibly of ancient provenance, but currently in illegal private possession. Scientific tests have been conducted on one of these codices and much discussion has taken place among scholars and in the social media. There are many indications that these finds are not modern forgeries, but possibility cannot as yet be definitively excluded.

Since the discovery became known, there has been silence from the Jordanian authorities, who, we understand, have identified the site where they were once deposited, and have taken possession of additional codices from the same collection. The lack of any official announcement is strange, and we still await news of plans for the repossession of these objects, for their proper examination to determine whether or not they are genuine antiquities.

Whether ancient or not, these intriguing and possibly important finds require an urgent official response. Even a modern forgery on this scale must be investigated, and if they are ancient even more research will be required. We ask the authorities in Amman to make an immediate and detailed statement about the finds and their intentions regarding them.

This matter is not just of national and cultural importance for the Kingdom of Jordan but also for all those interested in the antiquity (and the controversial antiquities markets of the Middle East).

Professor Philip Davies, University of Sheffield
Prof Robert P. Gordon, Regius Professor of Hebrew, University of Cambridge
Prof. Lester L. Grabbe, University of Hull
Prof C.T.R. Hayward, University of Durham
Prof J.R. Bartlett, Trinity College, Dublin
Dr Margaret Barker, Temple Studies Group
Prof John F A Sawyer, Perugia (in absentia, with permission)
Dr Walter Houston, University of Manchester
Dr Janet Tollington, University of Cambridge
Prof. David Wulston, St. Peter’s College, Oxford
Dr Diane Edelman, University of Sheffield
Dr Helen Jacobus, University College London
Dr Johanna Stiebert, University of Leeds
Prof. Dr Reinhard Kratz, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Germany
Rev. Dr K. White, URC Northern College, Manchester
Dr. Constantin Jinga, University of the West, Timisoara, Romania
Prof. Eun-Woo Lee, Presbyterian College and Theological Seminary, Seoul, Korea
Ms E.A. Harper, University of Cambridge
Dr Charlotte Hempel, University of Birmingham
Dr Adrian Curtis, University of Manchester
Dr Deborah Rooke, University of Oxford
Dr Jennifer Dines, University of Cambridge
Dr Dwight Swanson, Nazarene Theological College, Univ of Manchester
Dr Heather McKay, Edge Hill University, Manchester
Tarcisius Mukuka, St. Mary’s University College, Twickenham
Ms CM Crewe, Manchester University
Dr. Sandra Jacobs, Kings College London
Ms Irene Jones
Dr Bruce K. Gardner, University of Aberdeen
Prof. Alistair G. Hunter, University of Glasgow
Dr. Tim McLay, University of Durham/ Scholar’s Publisher Inc.
Mr Andy Lie
Dr Sarah Nicholson, University of Glasgow
Dr Paul Joyce, St. Peter’s College, University of Oxford, Professor elect, King’s College, London
The Rev. Paul Winchester, University of Oxford
Dr James McKeown, Queen’s University of Belfast
Jeffrey Spence, Trinity Western University, Canada
Jason Silverman, Leiden University

This is exactly the sort of thing that biblical scholars, and their scholarly societies, should do when claims are made in our field. I’m proud to be a member of SOTS, where actions speak as loudly as words.

Israel Returns Ancient Artifacts to Jordan

The Jordan News Agency reports the news (and you’ll have to go to the link to read it- they’ve disabled copying).

Want Your Own ‘Athena’ Based ‘Lead Codex’?

Just pop over to any bazaar in Jordan and pick one up.  Robert Deutsch sends along these photos of the very thing you can have for your own, cheap!

The codices being presently hawked by fraudsters are of the same sort: copies of things commonly found in museums around the Levant.  If you want to waste your money go ahead.  But really, you can haggle for a cheap one anywhere in Jordan.  All you have to do is go.

Rest in Peace, ‘Lead Codices’, Rest in Peace

Bible and Interpretation has an update on the ‘lead codices’ thing that (because I’m an unwavering optimist) will finally put to rest any further pimping of these materials by their owners:

None of the codices that have been released thus far for the public have proven to be authentic (including those which Elkington has supported as authentic) and none have shown to be more than the products of workshops, skilled in peddling fakes to tourists at a hefty price. It is also true that the iconography and even some of the script has roots in actual artifacts but these qualities were repurposed, out of context, from items found in museums in Jordan.

Rest in peace, codices.  You deserve it.  Truly.

Proof of Fraud: The ‘Lead Codices’

Steve Caruso has shown, dramatically, that one of the so called ‘lead codices’ simply lifted letters from actually authentic ancient materials.

Now, will the lead codices people please just sell their items to the gullible watchers of the Naked Archaeologist or readers of BAR (festooned, as it is, with ads for artifacts real and fake).

Come on, one of you, buy the things so we can stop hearing about them forever.

And Now We See What the ‘Lead Codices’ Nonsense is Really All About

It’s about suckering gullible people into spending huge sums on absolute rubbish sold by immense dilettantes.

Ancient Antique copper Lead Christian book,14cmx10cm

‘Copper lead’? Really?

US $13,000.00

Seriously? If you’re that senseless I’ll sell you an ancient piece of the true cross for $5000.

And oh the description:

Ancient old book . I am not sure copper or lead . I found this book my self in the Middle East , don’t know much about it but it has 7 pages . there is a small character in the pages but can’t get it with my camera . I think it’s old jewish or Aramic . It could be Christian or jewish Religious .

So he calls it an ‘ancient old book’ (!!) that he found him self (!) and it has small characters which he can’t photograph but which he’s informed enough to know it might be (!!) ‘old jewish’ (!!!!!) or ‘Aramic’ (whatever that’s supposed to be. And it could be ‘Christian or jewish Religious’ (!!!!!)

Seriously, if this doesn’t stir mockery in even the most placid of you, you just don’t have any wit or sense of humor at all. With thanks to David Meadows for the tip. I think he might buy it. He’s rolling in the dough.

A Few More Photos of the Jordanian ‘Lead Codices’

You know, the lead ones from Jordan that are ‘as important as the Dead Sea Scrolls’…

Robert Deutsch kindly sent these along, including the one of the Herodian coin which is copied on the codices.  And be sure to take a quick look at Jona’s post wherein he points out the silliness of saying that carbon 14 testing has been done on inorganic material….

The Latest on the ‘Lead Codices’ from Jordan

The Jordan Times tells us

According to the Department of Antiquities (DoA), initial carbon tests to determine the authenticity of lead-sealed metal books billed as the greatest find in biblical archaeology since the Dead Sea scrolls have been “encouraging”.

“We really believe that we have evidence from this analysis to prove that these materials are authentic,” DoA Director Ziad Saad told The Jordan Times.

The tests, carried out at the Royal Scientific Society labs, indicate that the texts may date back to the early first century AD, at a time when Christians took refuge from persecution on the east bank of the Jordan River.

The codices, which were retrieved by Jordanian security services from the black market last month, are believed to be part of a greater cache of 70 lead-sealed books allegedly uncovered in Jordan and smuggled across the River Jordan into Israel.

The majority of the texts are currently in the possession of Hassan Saeda, an Israeli bedouin farmer who claims that the books, which may tell of the last days of Jesus Christ, were uncovered by his shepherd grandfather some 90 years ago.

I remain skeptical.  Without provenance, without context, how useful would these materials be even if ancient?  It’s not that I’m unwilling to be convinced; it’s that I’m unpersuaded given the lack of archaeological context.  If detailed information of the how, where, and when of the discovery were forthcoming, perhaps I’d change my mind.  But given that there are just so many frauds (both materially and humanly) out there, I’m unwilling to take anyone’s word for something.

More on the ‘Lead Codices’ Morass (Sinkhole, cul-de-sac, Sackgasse)

The Christian Science Monitor asks ‘where’d they go and what happened to all the ‘big discovery’ hubbub?’

The question of ownership of the credit-card-sized books, which may bear the earliest likeness of Jesus Christ, and just how they ended up with an Israeli Bedouin truck driver have raised doubt over whether the messages allegedly sealed in lead some 2,000 years ago will ever be decoded.


Since the controversy erupted, Saeda has returned to Israel and has refused scholars further access to the codices, while the Jordanians and Elkington have joined efforts to repatriate the texts to Jordan. Since Jordan announced that it will pursue diplomatic channels to “retrieve” the texts, Israeli antiquities officials have expressed willingness to meet with the Jordanian side, although they deny any involvement with the texts. Their previous lack of response was a source of anxiety in Amman rooted in an ongoing legal contest over the Dead Sea Scrolls.


Saeda admits he has fielded offers, but claims a “higher calling” has prevented him from cashing in on what may be the greatest discovery in biblical archaeology. “I could sell these texts right now, but I believe these are the words of God.”

Oh come now- if you won’t let actual scholars actually examine them (and not just photos of them) then you can’t expect anyone to think them anything but rubbish.  Word of God?  Nonsense.

Jordan wants them (loads of touristy dollars if they can get someone to say they’re authentic and meaningful) but the owner has refused requests by scholars for further access (which makes the whole thing even more shady).  But the fellow at the center of the storm has a solution to the issue-

He has a solution to the international feud over the codices: Place them in a permanent worldwide exhibition. “These manuscripts don’t belong to just one country. They belong to all the countries in the world and all the faiths of the world.”

But that makes no sense at all given his earlier decision not to let scholars examine them (and for Pete’s sake don’t let the not naked not archaeologist not a scholar of anything but moneymaking Simcha Jacobovici have access to them- by the time he’s done distorting them like he does everything else they’ll be golden tablets from heaven dug up in a field in New York state by a deranged self styled ‘prophet’).

I stand by my earlier assessment of the things- give them to real scholars or put them in the dumpster where they belong.

[By the way, I think Sackgasse is the PERFECT name for Joel’s blog.  Let’s all ask him to change it from Unsettled something or other to that!}

Islamic Scholars Prepare to Sue Israel over Archaeology (via Fr Stephen’s Blog)

Islamic Scholars Prepare to Sue Israel over Archaeology On Wednesday a committee of experts from several Arab countries met in Amman, Jordan, to gather documents that will be brought before the International Court of Justice in an attempt to start legal actions against Israel’s archeological excavations in Jerusalem. According to the Jordanian representative to UNESCO, Moawiyah Ibrahim, Israeli authorities are using archeological fi … Read More

via Fr Stephen’s Blog

US Mideast Policy is a Ship Without a Sail or a Rudder

Members of the Kefaya democracy movement prote...

A fascinating essay in Al-Jazeera makes that general point explicit.

In the midst of the startling and compelling events taking place in the Middle East since the advent of Tunisia’s ongoing “jasmine revolution”, with people taking to the streets in Algeria, in Yemen, in Jordan, and, most importantly, shaking the foundations of the Mubarak regime in Egypt – the US, [PJ Crowley]  said, is passively “watching and responding”.

A ship without a sail…  or a rudder.  Read the whole.

More Dilettantism and the Mindless Search for Sodom

(animated stereo) Relaxing in the Dead Sea, ea...

Santa relaxing right above Sodom

Via Stephen word of a Russian expedition to Israel to find Sodom and Gomorrah… at the bottom of the Dead Sea… on the Jordanian side of things.

Russia and Jordan have signed an agreement to search the bottom of the Dead Sea for the remains of the Biblical cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, Arabic news media reported over the weekend. According to the report, a Russian company has agreed to conduct the search in cooperation with Jordanian authorities, picking up all costs – in exchange for exclusive rights to film a documentary of the search. The report quoted one of the Jordanian heads of the project, Zia Madani, as saying that the search would begin in late December.

I hope they find Santa’s workshop while they’re down there.  I’ve always thought that Santa was too smart to work at the North Pole (it’s too cold there) so with his magical abilities to fly around the world and visit every Christian home (you pagans don’t get visited by Santa) surely he can build an underwater world.

Israel Finkelstein and Oded Lipschits: Omride Architecture in Moab – Jahaz and Ataroth

The article deals with two sites – Jahaz and Ataroth– both mentioned in the Mesha Inscription as having been built by the “king of Israel”. These sites feature characteristics of Omride architecture west of the Jordan, at places such as Samaria and Jezreel. The most obvious among these features are an elevated podium surrounded by a casemate wall and a moat. The article deals with the reasons for employing Omride architectural styles in Moab. It also suggests that building operations that seem to have been conducted by King Mesha were influenced by Omride architectural elements at the two Moabite sites. ZDPV 126 (2010).

As always, Finkelstein’s worth reading.