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Forgery: Modus operandi (British History)
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Mick Harper
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Whatever you say. If you are referring to the Mycenean piece. It is not unheard of for someone to find a piece of pottery on their land in Greece or even when digging to build foundations. I was staying at a small hotel in Lindos, Rhodes. When discussing my interests with the owner he dug out a box containing bits of pottery and an old oil lamp which had been found during the construction of the hotel. He had held on to them for years. If his son decided to give them to a museum decades later does that mean that they were not found on his property? As for the piece in the photo I would prefer the museum to decide on its authenticity. You can't just assume people are 'lying' because you don't know the circumstances of the find.

Nobody knows the circumstances of the find, not just me. That’s why findspots are so important and why fakes are ‘found’ by someone who can no longer say (and can’t be sent to prison if it comes to that). If you trust a small island museum about the authenticity of the only late Bronze Age artefact found on that island, can I interest you in the Brooklyn Bridge which I am currently offering for sale on ebay?

I think you are just annoyed that you did a quick Google search and found a snippet of information relating to a totally different piece of pottery and failed to realise as you hadn't read the article.

I'd have banned Hatty too if I'd offered up such a weedy travesty for her to come back and savage.
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Wile E. Coyote


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To state the obvious, the potter modelled this on an evil eye theme.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evil_eye#cite_note-38

The evil eye, known as μάτι (mati), "eye", as an apotropaic visual device, is known to have been a fixture in Greece dating back to at least the 6th century BC, when it commonly appeared on drinking vessels.[35] In Greece, the evil eye is cast away through the process of xematiasma (ξεμάτιασμα), whereby the "healer" silently recites a secret prayer passed over from an older relative of the opposite sex, usually a grandparent. Such prayers are revealed only under specific circumstances, as according to their customs those who reveal them indiscriminately lose their ability to cast off the evil eye. There are several regional versions of the prayer in question, a common one being: "Holy Virgin, Our Lady, if [insert name of the victim] is suffering of the evil eye, release him/her of it." Evil repeated three times. According to custom, if one is indeed afflicted with the evil eye, both victim and "healer" then start yawning profusely. The "healer" then performs the sign of the cross three times, and emits spitting-like sounds in the air three times.


The eye myth features on many novelty items, eg pendants bracelets around the greek islands.
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Hatty
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The brief foray into the Twittersphere was quite productive, resulting how an academic mindset works, or doesn't. Angela O'Brien knows not all museums are reliable in matters of provenances

To me the provenance is no less trustworthy than some of the sketchy details of provenance I have seen on museum websites regarding other artefacts.

but when she was made aware of the problematic provenance for the object she'd been tweeting about, she changed her tune to

Museums are filled with artefacts that have no known finds pots. Searching their provenance will tell you that. Are thay all fakes?

Having criticised museums' laissez-faire attitude, her attitude could be criticised as uncritical, even complicit. The exchange ended with her saying museums can be relied on after all

As for the piece in the photo I would prefer the museum to decide on its authenticity.

It is astonishing even after all this time that academics say provenance isn't necessary for authenticating an object. In this instance of a unique vase even the (in)famous stylistic method is of no help.
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Mick Harper
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To state the obvious, the potter modelled this on an evil eye theme.

To state the obvious, forgers always model things on the obvious. Though in this case, two evil eyes, which has not been obvious thus far in Greek culture, or any one else's. However it is not the evilness of the eye(s) that is the giveaway, it's the look of the eyes (as it were).

That is how many people were able to tell that Elizabeth Taylor was a modern rather than a Classical Cleopatra. Richard Burton however was more of a classical actor.
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Mick Harper
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Forgery and Memory at the End of the First Millennium
Levi Roach Princeton University Press Princeton & Oxford £35.00

As some you will know, Levi is my chief rival in the Dark Age forgery business. How angry he would be to have our names bracketed together. How contemptuous he would be of anyone referring to the Early Medieval period as the Dark Age. But anyway I've just got his new book so we shall be bracketed together here for a bit as I wend my way through it.

Initial musings

1. What's Princeton & Oxford all about? I've seen a Yank at Oxford but that was a film.
2. Nicely presented, if dull, jacket.
3. Execrable typeface. 'Miller' whatever that is when it's at home.
4. Horrible prose style. This is going to be a trial.
5. Thirty five notes is what my great work is going to be priced at. Great minds thinking alike? I couldn't say, I don't know who makes these decisions at Princeton & Oxford.

I'm not mentioned either in the bibliography or the index. Of course I would be shocked if I were, but all the same think about that for a moment. This is a tiny field. I've been beavering away in it for years. I don't even qualify for a dismissal. That would count as 'careful ignoral' except it doesn't even rise to that level.
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Mick Harper
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I take that back about the prose style. It is 'serviceable' although Levi has employed undue levity. People often make this mistake when writing about dry subjects, supposing it is necessary to keep the reader's interest. I know I do. Cut it out, both of you!
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Mick Harper
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To give you an idea of what I suppose must be called the New Academese i.e. specialist books written in the age of universities-for-the-masses when you are not permitted to show the slightest degree of elitism, this is the opening of Levi's book. On page 55 because of the 'front matter', that never changes.

When Anno was appointed Bishop of Worms in 950 it came as a mixed blessing. Anno was an ambitious young churchman who had cut his teeth as abbot of the monastery of St Maurice in Magdeburg, the prize foundation (and future resting place) of the East Frankish (German) ruler Otto I (936-73).

Three sets of brackets in the first sentence is enough to put anyone off.

As a bishopric, Worms came as a promotion, and Anno was one of a small but significant number of abbots to make the leap into the episcopate in these years. He was something of a prelate in the old mould in this regard.

It is not the mixed blessing, cut his teeth, prize foundation, future resting place, small but significant, make the leap, something of, in the mould, in this regard that I object to (though I do on stylistic grounds), it is the fact that I have no idea what is being said. There is just too much going on.

And that isn't my real objection.
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Mick Harper
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Basically, if you don't believe in the existence of a monastery of St Maurice in Magdeburg, you have a hard time reading about its abbot, Anno, or a bishopric at Worms in 950 . Even Otto I comes into the dubious classification frame.

I don't believe in it but that's just me. Levi believes in it as an article of faith but if you are relying on historical documentation AND you are writing a book about forged historical documents you should at the very least try and find some archaeological evidence of the monastery. Or, in this case, at least have the honesty to tell the reader that you looked but couldn't find anything.
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Mick Harper
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But you might like this (supplied by Hatty)

Eadgyth was the granddaughter of Alfred the Great and the half sister of Athelstan, the first acknowledged King of England. She was sent to marry Otto, the king of Saxony in AD 929, and bore him at least two children, before her death at around the age of 36. She lived most of her married life at Magdeburg and was buried in the monastery of St Maurice. Her bones were moved on at least three occasions, before being interred in an elaborated tomb in Magdeburg Cathedral in 1510.

They might not have known it was Eadgth were it not for a helpful identification note. It was this tomb that was opened by German archaeologists in 2008, a tomb long expected to be empty. Instead they found it contained a lead box, with the inscription

“EDIT REGINE CINERES HIC SARCOPHAGVS HABET...” (The remains of Queen Eadgyth are in this sarcophagus...).

Make of that what you will.
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Wile E. Coyote


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Make of this what you will.

Her monastic life, and a diet of fish also explain the problematic radiocarbon dates, which tend to appear older with heavily fish-based diets.
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Mick Harper
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Oh yes, we are well aware of this one. Last heard of with the Great Heathen Army, I seem to remember. But we mustn't discourage them from carrying out carbon dating.
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Wile E. Coyote


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Scandi folk are a tad worried. Wiley is an enthusiast for experimental archaeology.

Before they started on the research project, the archaeologists were fully aware that dating of fish is subject to a large margin of error. They just didn’t know how big it was, nor how fish affect the Carbon-14 contents in the clay vessels that they were prepared in.

An experiment made things clearer:

The archaeologists created a clay vessel of the kind that was used in the Stone Age.
They placed it over a fire and prepared a fish dish in it.
They made sure that some of it stuck to the pot.
They then Carbon-14 dated the pot and the burnt crust at the bottom of the pot. The dating showed that the pot and the burnt fish, Carbon-14-wise, were 700 years old.
This gave the archaeologists reason to believe that they should take care not to rely too much on the Carbon-14 dating method.
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Mick Harper
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This is both hilarious and depressing. They would would all like to be shot of carbon-dating because then expert opinion can reign supreme. This gives them just the excuse they are looking for.

This gave the archaeologists reason to believe that they should take care not to rely too much on the Carbon-14 dating method.

No, my dear archaeologists, it means you should

(a) work your socks off making it reliable
(b) as long as you don't use your own assumptions to provide base measurements (or for that matter those of the Life Sciences)
(c) go back and re-measure everything you have carbon-tested
(d) carbon-test everything you should have carbon-tested in the first place but haven't
(e) get a job better suited to your abilities. Post-Brexit, there are openings in market-gardening. Bring own trowel.
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Mick Harper
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Some papers on historical forgeries listed by the indefatigable Steven Sorensen on C-Truth which I repeat here in case anyone thinks we are voices in the wilderness. Which we still are in a broader sense. I hope.

General

Doak, Brian R. "Remembering the Future, Predicting the Past: Vaticinia ex eventu in the Historiographic Traditions of the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East"
Stern, Gauis C. "Imposters in Ancient Persia, Greece, and Rome"

Greek

Bertolin, Reyes. "The Search for Truth in Odyssey 3 and 4"
Prosperi, Valentina. "The Trojan War: Between History and Myth"
Yamuza, Emilia Ruiz. "Protagoras's Myth: Between Pastiche and Falsification"
Filonik, Jakub. "Impiety Avenged: Rewriting Athenian History"
Labiano, Mikel. "Dramas or Niobus: Aristophanic Comedy or Spurious Play?"
Cueva, Edmund P. "ὃ γὰρ βούλεται τοῦθ̓ ἕκαστος καὶ οἴεται: Dissembling in the Ancient Greek Novel"
Hafner, Markus. "Logography Reconsidered: New Issues on Cooperative Authorship in Attic Oratory"
Hernández Muñoz, Felipe G. "“Relative Hapax” in the Corpus Demosthenicum"
Kapparis, Konstantinos. "Forgery as Art in the Documents inserted in the Attic Orators"
Lennartz, Klaus. "“To sound like Plato”: Profiling the Seventh Letter"
Martin, Richard P. "Onomakritos, Rhapsode: Composition-in-Performance and the Competition of Genres in 6th -century Athens"
De Brasi, Diego. "What a Cruel Bee! Authority and Anonymity in Pseudo-Theocritus’s Idyll 19"
Burgess, Jonathan S. "The Periplus of Hanno: Dubious Historical Document, Fascinating Travel Text"
Capasso, Mario. "The Forgery of the Stoic Diotimus"
Kapparis, Kostas. "Fake and Forgotten: The True Story of Apollodoros, the Son of Pasion"
Labiano, Mikel. "The Athenian Decree Contained in the Corpus Hippocraticum"
Lennartz, Klaus. "Two Birds with One Stone: Thuc. 2. 41 and the Nauarchs Monument"
Nesselrath, Heinz-Günther. "From Plato to Paul Schliemann: Dubious Documents on the “History” of Atlantis"
Tempest, Kathryn. "Confessions of a Literary Forger: Reading the Letters of Mithridates to Brutus"
Vatri, Alessandro. "An Interpolator Praising Forgers? Dionysius of Halicarnassus on the Pythagoreans (On Imitation, Epitome 4)"

Latin

Sillett, Andrew. "Quintus Cicero's Commentariolum: A Philosophical Approach to Roman Elections"
Lennartz, Klaus. "Not Without my Mother: The Obligate Rhetoric of Daphne’s Transformation"
Meckler, Michael. "Comparative Approaches to the Historia Augusta"
Elliott, Jackie. "Authorship and Authority in the Preface to Justin’s Epitome of Trogus’ Philippic Histories"
Hendricksonk, Thomas G. "Spurious Manuscripts of Genuine Works: The Cases of Cicero and Virgil"
Pucci, Joseph. "Artistic Authority and the Impotency of Art: A Reading of Ausonius’ Third Preface"
Reichetanz, Paul. "Ea vera clementia erit – The Epistulae ad Caesarem in 1st Century AD Public Discourse"
Stachon, Markus. "Young Vergil’s Very First Poetic Exercises: Some Remarks on the Pseudo-Vergilian Liber Distichon (AL 250-257 Sh. B. = AL 256-263 R.)"
Henderson, John. "“Why Not Cicero?” The Spuriae I. De Exilio"
Hudson, Jared. "Framing the Speaker: [Sallust] Against Cicero"
La Bua, Giuseppe. "The Poet as a Forger: Fakes and Literary Imitation in Roman Poetry"
San Vincente, J. Ignacio. "Mark Antony’s Will and his Pietas"

Late Antique

Baudoin, Anne-Catherine. "Truth in the Details: The Report of Pilate to Tiberius as an Authentic Forgery"
Kristi, Eastin. "Virgilius Accuratissimus: The “Authentic” Illustrations of William Sandby’s 1750 Virgil"
Pedroni, Luigi. "The Salii at the Nonae of October: Reading Lyd. Mens. 4.138 W"
Tolsa, Cristian. "Evidence and Speculation about Ptolemy’s Career in Olympiodorus"

Early Christian

Brown, Scott. "Mar Saba 65: Twelve Enduring Misconceptions"
Karanasiou, Argyri. "A Euripidised Clement of Alexandria or a Christianised Euripides? The Interplay of Authority between Quoting Author and Cited Author"
Mulke, Markus. "Heretic Falsification in Cyprian’s Epistulae?"

Late Antique & Early Christian

Abenstein, Christina. "Facts, Fakes or Fiction? Considering Ancient Quotations"
Clark, Frederic. "Historia and Fabula: Dares Phrygius between Truth and Fiction in the Twelfth Century"
Luca, Grillo. "Tertullian’s Attack on the Valentinians and the Rhetoric of Fake"
Lampinen, Antti. "Forging the Feel of Ancient Ethnography in Pseudo-Jerome’s Cosmography of Aethicus Ister"
Mulke, Markus. "The Author-Translator: Progress or Problem? Augustinus on the Vetus Latina and Jerome’s Vulgata"
Dorda, Esteban Calderón. "Falsehoods and Distortions in the Transmission of the New Testament Text"
Neil, Bronwen. "Forging the Faith: Pseudo-Epistolography in Christian Late Antiquity"
Whiting, Colin M. "Two Forged Letters and the Heirs of Athanasius and Lucifer"

Epigraphy (& Archeology)

Barron, Caroline. "Latin Inscriptions and the Eighteenth-Century Art Market"
Cooley, Alison E. "Fakes, Forgeries and Authenticity: The curious case of Flora"
Graf, Fritz. "Phantom Travels: On the Story of a Lycian Inscription"
Keegan, Peter. "False Positive: Testing the Authenticity of Latin Graffiti in Ancient Pompeii"
Momigliano, Nicoletta. "Minoan Fakes and Fictions"
Temiño, Ignacio Rodríguez & Ana Yáñez. "Considerations on the Judgement of Criminal Court No. 1 of Vitoria-Gasteiz on the Iruña-Veleia Case
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Mick Harper
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A routine Twitter exchange gave me an idea. It concerned the Farnese Hermes in the British Museum


Hatty wrote:
Eh? Has the BM managed to locate the 'Greek original attributed to Praxiteles'? They say findspot is 'Italy'. It seems a highly dubious claim. As Wiki puts it, "While no indubitably attributable sculpture by Praxiteles is extant, numerous copies of his works have survived".

But then someone posted up

This is piece is doubtless an import. But were the workshops which produced actual Roman art in Italy or Greece? If in Italy, did the artisans descend in a direct line from Etruscan painters and sculptors?

which reminded me

M J Harper in his new book wrote:
Gilded youth of the eighteenth century had their heads filled with the Classics at these places, went on Grand Tours to classical destinations and returned home determined to stock their orangeries with classical statuary. Except there were no classical statues to be had for love or money. The few that had survived were horrid things – two thousand years will do that to marble – and came missing so many body parts they were wholly unsuited to polite society. Much better to be supplied with ‘the real thing’ by Italian workshops. In fact, since one’s friends were being similarly supplied, putting a genuine one on display would get you no thanks. .

So when this popped up
Antoinette English wrote:
Send it back

I decided me and Hatty will soon be in big demand as expert witnesses because if they are fakes they won't have to be.
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