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Inventing History : forgery: a great British tradition (British History)
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Boreades


In: finity and beyond
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Is it pushing the analogies too far to say that the Art Scholar(s)' adherence to the belief that these things are Old and Genuine is a like a Religious Act of Faith?

Like the Turin Shroud?

And even when they can be persuaded to get it radiocarbon dated, there are still lots of "Ah, but..."s

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiocarbon_dating_of_the_Shroud_of_Turin
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Mick Harper
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In: London
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Well, let's see now. The Shroud was a profitable part of the tourist industry for centuries and nobody was allowed to examine it. Then the Vatican went through one of its periodic 'let's clean house' episodes and permitted it to be carbon dated. It came back, as expected, fourteenth rather than first century, now it's bigger than ever as a part of the tourist industry!
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Hatty
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The Head of Research at The Courtauld, a medieval art historian called Alixe Bovey, is happily concocting an iron gall ink brew on her windowsill. She understands that iron gall ink is indelible...

I’m no chemist but my understanding is that the chemical reaction between the iron sulphate and the tannic acid creates a solution that oxidises and bites into the parchment, hence its indelible quality.

but iron gall ink's corrosiveness according to Dr Bovey is a) not inevitable and b) a very slow process

I think there are two different processes - the oxidisation of the pigment (which I think happens pretty quickly - like, days not years) and the by-no-means inevitable destruction of the support, which is almost certainly a v slow, contingent process

This is a get-out for historians and their 1,000+ year old manuscripts, but not necessarily a conscious ruse as Alixe Bovey is an art historian not a manuscript scholar. She replied 'no' when asked whether iron gall ink has been dated and clearly doesn't think it necessary in any case

Re dating the ink - no, not to my knowledge. In any case it’s generally possible to date western mss to at least a quarter century using evidence like text, script, codicology, decoration.

We're back to the same old subjective "stylistic" modus operandi.
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Boreades


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I am also keenly interested in the interface between art history and practice, especially the ways that historical understanding can be enhanced by creative experience. This has inspired a diverse programme of activities under the #CourtauldDraw umbrella, including regular life drawing classes, collaborative drawing events, practical workshops (including metalpoint drawing, which is a particular enthusiasm of mine), artist talks and research events in the Research Forum programme.

A commendable enthusiasm for getting your hands dirty and seeing how people might have done things. Although a degree in Forensic Chemistry might be useful.

My current research project explores the mythic history of Britain, focusing especially on the material legacy of the indigenous race of giants who were (according to Geoffrey of Monmouth’s mid-12th century history) exterminated by the refugees from the Trojan war who founded the British nation. This project focuses especially on their material presence in the pageantry, legends, and identity of the City of London, and considers why and how they have been made, and reimagined, over hundreds of years.

Should AEL inmates refrain from contacting her with tales of Iman Jacob Wilkens, or Gog and Magog, and the Lord Mayor's Parade?

http://www.troy-in-england.co.uk/
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Mick Harper
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Re dating the ink - no, not to my knowledge. In any case it’s generally possible to date western mss to at least a quarter century using evidence like text, script, codicology, decoration.

Ironically, we are able to get within a quarter century using our methods! Since Dr Bovey uses the word 'generally' I wonder what method(s) she uses when she can't. And I think that 'western' reference is hiding some unconscious racism.
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Mick Harper
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Should AEL inmates refrain from contacting her with tales of Iman Jacob Wilkens, or Gog and Magog, and the Lord Mayor's Parade?

It is a strategic error trying to engage academics with tales of wonder, much better to try to persuade them to apply their own basic rules. Nor is it much use going down the copy-of-a-copy road. The fact of the matter is that not a single 'early medieval' manuscript has ever been scientifically dated, and for an AE reason. Once it is declared to be that old it is simultaneously declared to be too valuable to be tested! You've got to hand it to them, it's brilliant.

One day, some hero (more likely, heroine) will rise from their ranks and decide that calling a halt to the entire charade is worth sacrificing their career, their friends and (this is the hard part) their own most cherished beliefs. And that would be just for asking for one carbon test. They'd be escorted out of the British Library before closing time. The gall!
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