Gentle readers! I come bearing a quick update to let you know I’ve stumbled across what is sure to be HOURS of entertainment for a good archaeological cause.
In case you have (or haven’t) been following this story regarding the discovery of a little lead booklet found in Israel reported to be the oldest Christian writings ever/anywhere/etc.
Honestly, I can’t say I didn’t see this coming. The unfortunate reality is that the world of biblical archaeology is constantly marred by dozens upon dozens of faked/forged artifact discoveries. Anyone remember that magical ossuary that had a convenient inscription saying ‘James brother of Jesus’ on it? Yeah…that not only didn’t contain any Jesus bones or James bones but it was also a flaming forgery. These lead books aren’t shaping up to be much better, mostly due to the fact that if you actually sit down and translate the Greek inscriptions, they don’t make a lot of sense. It’s not quite gibberish but it’s extremely nonsensical and the illustrations/decorations don’t really have anything to do with anything. It’s really unfortunate because this casts an unnecessary pall over any discovery made in the Near East, particularly in Biblical areas, because everyone is so incredibly desperate to find something new and/or prove or validate something. There’s an entire other rant on this subject but I won’t get into that now.
Moral of the story? Watch out for fakes. The good news is they’re pretty easy to spot once you get an eye for these sorts of things 🙂
Until next time, gentle readers!