The tale of the lead books

By Simon Rocker
April 8, 2011

A few weeks I wrote about a cache of lead books from the Middle East that has been claimed as a significant archaeologist discovery.

Robert Feather, a London metallurgist and Dead Sea Scroll enthusiast, who believes they could be linked to early Jewish mysticism, is trying to help establish their authenticity.

In the meantime, a rival theory has been doing the rounds of the world’s media that the artefacts are early Christian.

The Israel Antiquities Authority has dismissed the items - said to have been found in a cave in Jordan and which belong to an Israeli Bedouin - as fakes.

But the head of Jordan’s Department of Antiquities reportedly wants to reclaim the items as national treasure.

Now an Oxford scholar, Peter Thonemann, who was shown photos of some of the items purporting to come from the cave by the man who advocates their Christian origin, has poured cold water on the claims of antiquity. A Greek inscription on one of the books turned out to have been copied from a tombstone that has been on display in an Amman museum for 50 years. You can read his article in the Times Literary Supplement debunking the find here.

Mr Feather’s opinion remains that the two books which he has studied in the laboratory and on which mass spectrometry testing has been performed are “of very old provenance and not modern remelted material. Visually the corrosion products on these two books are strongly indicative of aging that has taken place over a long period. My position has always been cautious, saying much more work needed to be done to know what the codices were saying and to verify their authenticity.”



Wed, 03/25/2015 - 17:01

Rate this:

1 point

from the times of israel, 24/3/2015 …

Israeli archaeologists are praising a local rodent** for its contributions to their field after it uncovered an ancient lamp.

A team of officials from the Israel Antiquities Authority’s anti-theft department were on a routine patrol at the Horbat Siv site in the central Emek Hefer region when they happened upon a pile of dirt next to the opening of a porcupine den.

Lying in the dust was a 1,400-year-old intact ceramic lamp with signs of use. An IAI statement said the lamp — which was dug up by the porcupine — helped archaeologists date the ruins and when the site was populated.
Horbat Siv is a large archaeological site from the Roman and Byzantine period.
The porcupine is an excellent archaeologist, a sort of incomparable digger,” said IAI anti-theft official Ira Horovitz.
The adaptable Indian crested porcupine is common across Israel. It lives in mating pairs, and digs deeps burrows of up to 15 meters deep.
“Since the country is full of archaeological sites, it happens that the porcupine builds its home between remains hiding underground. He removes the dirt expertly onto the surface, along with all sorts of archaeological artifacts it comes across.”
As pleased as the archaeologists were with the porcupine, they also sent a stern warning to the rodent and its friends. “The IAI calls on porcupines to refrain from digging dens in archaeological sites, and warn that digging in these sites without a license is a crime.”

** yes, porcupines are rodents, see eg !


You must be logged in to post a comment.