Lead Codices Now Thought to be Fakes

Lead codices once thought to be the earliest Christian documents are now thought to be fakes.

Originally dated to decades after the death of Jesus Christ, the tablets were being called the most important discovery in archaeological history. Credit-card-size pages cast in lead and bound together by lead rings, the codices were examined by an Aramaic translator who completed his analysis of the artifacts today and declared them fakes.

"I obtained photos of all the text that was available, and spent the past week looking over them," Steve Caruso, a professional Aramaic translator and teacher, told Life's Little Mysteries, a sister site to LiveScience.com.

"I noticed there were a lot of Old Aramaic forms that were at least 2,500 hundred years old. But they were mixed in with other forms that were younger, so I took a closer look at that and pulled out all the distinct forms that I could find. It was very, very odd-I've never seen this kind of mix before."

The youngest scripts he identified, called Nabatean and Palmyrene, date from the second and third centuries, which Caruso says proves the documents could not possibly have been written during the dawn of Christianity.

Other signs point to the codices being fake: "There were inconsistencies in how they did the stroke order, which you would have never have seen. Scribes had very specific ways of doing things," Caruso said.

Caruso's findings supports the work of a Greek archaeologist at Oxford, who said the images appearing in the codices, including one of Christ on the cross, are historically inconsistent. "The image they are saying is Christ is the sun god Helios from a coin that came from the island of Rhodes. There are also some nonsense inscriptions in Hebrew and Greek," Peter Thonemann told the press. He estimates the date of forgery to be within the past 50 years.Fake Christian relics are relatively common, says Kimberley Bowes, a Greek and Roman archaeologist at the University of Pennsylvania."Modern people's urge to find material evidence from the first two centuries of Christianity is much stronger than the actual evidence itself. This is because the numbers of Christians from this period was incredibly small-probably less than 7000 by 100 A.D.-and because they didn't distinguish themselves materially from their Jewish brethren."
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