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RE: [hugoye-list] NEWS: "Ancient" Syriac bible found in Cyprus

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  • David G.K. Taylor
    This manuscript is less ancient than the hugoye mailing list! It is one of a large number of fake Syriac manuscripts currently being produced in northern Iraq
    Message 1 of 4 , Feb 9, 2009
      This manuscript is less ancient than the hugoye mailing list!
       
      It is one of a large number of fake Syriac manuscripts currently being produced in northern Iraq and southern Turkey. They are always written on crudely tanned pieces of skin, not real vellum, often using gold pens designed for decorating birthday presents and cards. One I examined had 'illuminations' produced with a child's felt-tip pens. They also often have metal boxes or covers surrounding them. They often imitate texts found in printed books (one I saw contained the 'sunburst' verse divider invented by C19 American printers), but rarely copy large sections, and instead add a lot of nonsense words. Most are in the East Syriac script, some in the western - though in the latter case, often mixed with Arabic letters. I have also seen fake 'Yezidi' manuscripts, and one in 'Phoenician', produced by the same group of workshops.
       
      Interesting for what they tell us about a) modern middle eastern concepts of what ancient texts should look like; and b) the lamentable decline in quality of antiquities forgery in the middle east! In the old days forgery was a real art, and the forgers were better educated and trained than most scholars. (This is still the case with forgers of some ANE seals.) There is clearly a market opportunity here for some enterprising university to start an MA course in Syriac manuscript forgery, and so lead to a renaissance in ms forgery! 
       
      Yours despairingly,
       
      David 
         
       

      ___________________________________________

      Dr David G.K. Taylor,
      University Lecturer in Aramaic and Syriac,

      The University of Oxford.

      The Oriental Institute,
      Pusey Lane,
      Oxford, OX1 2LE,
      U.K.

                                 
      email    david.taylor@...
      Tel.       0044 – 1865 – 278195

       


      From: hugoye-list@yahoogroups.com [mailto:hugoye-list@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of George Kiraz
      Sent: 07 February 2009 00:39
      To: hugoye-list@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [hugoye-list] NEWS: "Ancient" Syriac bible found in Cyprus

      -----Original Message-----
      From: jack.m.sasson@ gmail.com [mailto:jack.m.sasson@ gmail.com] On Behalf
      Of Jack Sasson
      Sent: Friday, February 06, 2009 6:01 PM
      To: The Agade mailing list.
      Subject: [agade] NEWS: "Ancient" Syriac bible found in Cyprus

      From

      http://news. yahoo.com/ nphotos/undated- handout-photo- released- Reuters-Feb
      ruary-6-2009- shows-ancient/ photo//090206/ photos_ts/ 2009_02_06t07572 9_450
      x338_us_cyprus_ bible//s: /nm/20090206/ lf_nm_life/ us_cyprus_ bible

      ============ ========= ========= ========= ========= ========= ========= ======
      ===========

      "Ancient" Syriac bible found in Cyprus
      By Sarah Ktisti and Simon Bahceli Sarah Ktisti And Simon Bahceli Fri
      Feb 6, 5:34 am ET

      NICOSIA (Reuters Life!) - Authorities in northern Cyprus believe they
      have found an ancient version of the Bible written in Syriac, a
      dialect of the native language of Jesus.

      The manuscript was found in a police raid on suspected antiquity
      smugglers. Turkish Cypriot police testified in a court hearing they
      believe the manuscript could be about 2,000 years old.

      The manuscript carries excerpts of the Bible written in gold lettering
      on vellum and loosely strung together, photos provided to Reuters
      showed. One page carries a drawing of a tree, and another eight lines
      of Syriac script.

      Experts were however divided over the provenance of the manuscript,
      and whether it was an original, which would render it priceless, or a
      fake.

      Experts said the use of gold lettering on the manuscript was likely to
      date it later than 2,000 years.

      "I'd suspect that it is most likely to be less than 1,000 years old,"
      leading expert Peter Williams, Warden of Tyndale House, University of
      Cambridge told Reuters.

      Turkish Cypriot authorities seized the relic last week and nine
      individuals are in custody pending further investigations. More
      individuals are being sought in connection with the find, they said.

      Further investigations turned up a prayer statue and a stone carving
      of Jesus believed to be from a church in the Turkish held north, as
      well as dynamite.

      The police have charged the detainees with smuggling antiquities,
      illegal excavations and the possession of explosives.

      Syriac is a dialect of Aramaic - the native language of Jesus - once
      spoken across much of the Middle East and Central Asia. It is used
      wherever there are Syrian Christians and still survives in the Syrian
      Orthodox Church in India.

      Aramaic is still used in religious rituals of Maronite Christians in
      Cyprus.

      "One very likely source (of the manuscript) could be the Tur-Abdin
      area of Turkey, where there is still a Syriac speaking community,"
      Charlotte Roueche, Professor of Late Antique and Byzantine Studies at
      King's College London told Reuters.

      Stories regarding the antiquity of manuscripts is commonplace. One
      case would be the Yonan Codex, carbon dated to the 12th century which
      people tried to pass off as earlier.

      After further scrutiny of photographs of the book, manuscripts
      specialist at the University of Cambridge library and Fellow of
      Wolfson College JF Coakley suggested that the book could have been
      written a good deal later.

      "The Syriac writing seems to be in the East Syriac script with vowel
      points, and you do not find such manuscripts before about the 15th
      century.

      "On the basis of the one photo...if I'm not mistaken some words at
      least seem to be in modern Syriac, a language that was not written
      down until the mid-19th century," he told Reuters.

      (Editing by Michele Kambas and Paul Casciato)

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    • Dr. Erica C.D. Hunter
      Thanks for this entertaining piece David - with some interesting thoughts too. Re felt-tipped pens used in manuscript production. When I visited Mar Mattai
      Message 2 of 4 , Feb 9, 2009
        Thanks for this entertaining piece David - with some interesting thoughts
        too.

        Re felt-tipped pens used in manuscript production. When I visited Mar
        Mattai monastery in 1989, one of the monks there proudly showed me the
        latest manuscript that he had written. Complete with illuminations
        {frontspiece} etc. in a vivid array of colours that he had done with
        felt-tipped pens. The black text had been also written in felt-tipped pen.

        Much easier than boiling down oak galls etc. to get colours and inks.
        Rather comparable to using chemical dyes in carpet-making over and above
        vegetable dyes. I took some photos of individual folios because I thought
        it interesting how this esteemed tradition had embraced more modern
        technology.

        So, the conundrum will be: when manuscripts with felt-tipped illuminations
        appear on the market: are they genuine (albeit of recent production) or
        fake?

        Still no gold used in the manuscript that I saw at Mar Mattai!

        Erica C.D. Hunter

        Lecturer in Eastern Christianity
        Dept. Study of Religions
        School of Oriental and African Studies
        Thornhaugh St, Russell Square
        London WC1H 0XG


        >This manuscript is less ancient than the hugoye mailing list!
        >
        > It is one of a large number of fake Syriac manuscripts currently being
        > produced in northern Iraq and southern Turkey. They are always written on
        > crudely tanned pieces of skin, not real vellum, often using gold pens
        > designed for decorating birthday presents and cards. One I examined had
        > 'illuminations' produced with a child's felt-tip pens. They also often
        > have metal boxes or covers surrounding them. They often imitate texts
        > found in printed books (one I saw contained the 'sunburst' verse divider
        > invented by C19 American printers), but rarely copy large sections, and
        > instead add a lot of nonsense words. Most are in the East Syriac script,
        > some in the western - though in the latter case, often mixed with Arabic
        > letters. I have also seen fake 'Yezidi' manuscripts, and one in
        > 'Phoenician', produced by the same group of workshops.
        >
        > Interesting for what they tell us about a) modern middle eastern concepts
        > of what ancient texts should look like; and b) the lamentable decline in
        > quality of antiquities forgery in the middle east! In the old days
        > forgery was a real art, and the forgers were better educated and trained
        > than most scholars. (This is still the case with forgers of some ANE
        > seals.) There is clearly a market opportunity here for some enterprising
        > university to start an MA course in Syriac manuscript forgery, and so
        > lead to a renaissance in ms forgery!
        >
        >Yours despairingly,
        >
        >David
        >
        >
        >
        >___________________________________________
        >
        >Dr David G.K. Taylor,
        >University Lecturer in Aramaic and Syriac,
        >The University of Oxford.
        >
        >The Oriental Institute,
        >Pusey Lane,
        >Oxford, OX1 2LE,
        >U.K.
        >
        >email david.taylor@...
        >Tel. 0044 - 1865 - 278195
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > _____
        >
        >From: hugoye-list@yahoogroups.com [mailto:hugoye-list@yahoogroups.com] On
        >Behalf Of George Kiraz
        >Sent: 07 February 2009 00:39
        >To: hugoye-list@yahoogroups.com
        >Subject: [hugoye-list] NEWS: "Ancient" Syriac bible found in Cyprus
        >
        >
        >
        >-----Original Message-----
        >From: jack.m.sasson@ <mailto:jack.m.sasson%40gmail.com> gmail.com
        >[mailto:jack.m.sasson@ <mailto:jack.m.sasson%40gmail.com> gmail.com] On
        >Behalf
        >Of Jack Sasson
        >Sent: Friday, February 06, 2009 6:01 PM
        >To: The Agade mailing list.
        >Subject: [agade] NEWS: "Ancient" Syriac bible found in Cyprus
        >
        >From
        >
        >http://news.
        ><http://news.yahoo.com/nphotos/undated-handout-photo-released-Reuters-Feb>
        >yahoo.com/nphotos/undated-handout-photo-released-Reuters-Feb
        >ruary-6-2009-shows-ancient/photo//090206/photos_ts/2009_02_06t075729_450
        >x338_us_cyprus_bible//s:/nm/20090206/lf_nm_life/us_cyprus_bible
        >
        >========================================================================
        >===========
        >
        >"Ancient" Syriac bible found in Cyprus
        >By Sarah Ktisti and Simon Bahceli Sarah Ktisti And Simon Bahceli Fri
        >Feb 6, 5:34 am ET
        >
        >NICOSIA (Reuters Life!) - Authorities in northern Cyprus believe they
        >have found an ancient version of the Bible written in Syriac, a
        >dialect of the native language of Jesus.
        >
        >The manuscript was found in a police raid on suspected antiquity
        >smugglers. Turkish Cypriot police testified in a court hearing they
        >believe the manuscript could be about 2,000 years old.
        >
        >The manuscript carries excerpts of the Bible written in gold lettering
        >on vellum and loosely strung together, photos provided to Reuters
        >showed. One page carries a drawing of a tree, and another eight lines
        >of Syriac script.
        >
        >Experts were however divided over the provenance of the manuscript,
        >and whether it was an original, which would render it priceless, or a
        >fake.
        >
        >Experts said the use of gold lettering on the manuscript was likely to
        >date it later than 2,000 years.
        >
        >"I'd suspect that it is most likely to be less than 1,000 years old,"
        >leading expert Peter Williams, Warden of Tyndale House, University of
        >Cambridge told Reuters.
        >
        >Turkish Cypriot authorities seized the relic last week and nine
        >individuals are in custody pending further investigations. More
        >individuals are being sought in connection with the find, they said.
        >
        >Further investigations turned up a prayer statue and a stone carving
        >of Jesus believed to be from a church in the Turkish held north, as
        >well as dynamite.
        >
        >The police have charged the detainees with smuggling antiquities,
        >illegal excavations and the possession of explosives.
        >
        >Syriac is a dialect of Aramaic - the native language of Jesus - once
        >spoken across much of the Middle East and Central Asia. It is used
        >wherever there are Syrian Christians and still survives in the Syrian
        >Orthodox Church in India.
        >
        >Aramaic is still used in religious rituals of Maronite Christians in
        >Cyprus.
        >
        >"One very likely source (of the manuscript) could be the Tur-Abdin
        >area of Turkey, where there is still a Syriac speaking community,"
        >Charlotte Roueche, Professor of Late Antique and Byzantine Studies at
        >King's College London told Reuters.
        >
        >Stories regarding the antiquity of manuscripts is commonplace. One
        >case would be the Yonan Codex, carbon dated to the 12th century which
        >people tried to pass off as earlier.
        >
        >After further scrutiny of photographs of the book, manuscripts
        >specialist at the University of Cambridge library and Fellow of
        >Wolfson College JF Coakley suggested that the book could have been
        >written a good deal later.
        >
        >"The Syriac writing seems to be in the East Syriac script with vowel
        >points, and you do not find such manuscripts before about the 15th
        >century.
        >
        >"On the basis of the one photo...if I'm not mistaken some words at
        >least seem to be in modern Syriac, a language that was not written
        >down until the mid-19th century," he told Reuters.
        >
        >(Editing by Michele Kambas and Paul Casciato)
        >
        > --- You are currently subscribed to agade as: gkiraz@gorgiaspress
        > <mailto:gkiraz%40gorgiaspress.com> .com. To unsubscribe send a blank
        > email to leave-23986370-
        > <mailto:leave-23986370-4815366.b709c5a61a91df8a5399142b573479c7%40listserv.u
        > nc.edu> 4815366.b709c5a61a91df8a5399142b573479c7@...
        >
        >--- To (re-)subscribe please send a blank email to listserv@unc.
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