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Forgery: Modus operandi (British History)
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Mick Harper
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I will not recount the hilarious travellers' tales that attended the Treasures' wanderings since we have already covered them, though I like the one Franks himself put about

Indeed, Dalton records that Indian dealers initially made copies of items and tried to pass them off to Franks, who though not deceived, bought some "at a small percentage over the gold value" and then received the genuine objects, which were easily distinguished.

I would like to meet dealers who a) make gold copies of the real thing but b) have the real thing as a back-up. Just in case. The only real bid for authenticity comes from this

Considerable comfort has been received from the objects' similarity to later Achaemenid finds, many excavated under proper archaeological conditions

Well, it would so long as there were no earlier ones because then the forgers would simply adopt general Achaemenid styles. This is always the baffling part of connoisseur-ship. They all believe what an ancient Persian can do, a modern Frenchman can't do. But, OK, let's give them a huge benefit of the doubt and assume there weren't any earlier finds....

In particular, finds of jewellery including armlets and torcs in a tomb at Susa by a French expedition from 1902 onwards (now in the Louvre) are closely similar to the Oxus finds

How can we be confident that this is not a 'proper archaeological' excavation? Easy. That 'in particular' is quite unnecessary because we have had proper Achaeminid archaeological excavations in the 1950's, 1960's, 1970's, 1980's, 1990's., 2000's and 2010's. Unless none of them found jewellery, armlets and torcs anything like the Oxus Treasure. Then you'd have to say 'in particular' about that French one.
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Wile E. Coyote


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The Oxus treasure is a collection of about 180 surviving pieces of metalwork in gold and silver, the majority rather small, plus perhaps about 200 coins, from the Achaemenid Persian period which were found by the Oxus river about 1877-1880

I dont know where this comes from but the "plus perhaps about 200 coins" is a flag. The Ancient History encyclopedia mentions 1500 Gold coins but now not considered to be part of the Oxus treasure.


Apologies..... I got excited by the relevance for COIN.
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Mick Harper
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I never stray far from Wiki whose account strikes me as being, what shall we say? more up to date than The Ancient History Encyclopaedia. It comes in two further sections. But you're our man with the money, Wiley, dig a bit deeper, can you, I've decided to big it up for the book.

The exact place and date of the find remain unclear, and it is likely that many other pieces from the hoard were melted down for bullion; early reports suggest there were originally some 1500 coins, and mention types of metalwork that are not among the surviving pieces.

The coins are more widely dispersed, and more difficult to firmly connect with the treasure. A group believed to come from it is in the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, and other collections have examples.
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Wile E. Coyote


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Mick is taking a look at the Oxus treasure. I have to say that the treasure is most probably genuine. We just need to add a resoable inference to the known facts.

Where to start? What to hang it on? Why not a famous battle? A invasion perhaps, that will do these objects were buried to prevent them being looted by an invading army, or conversely they were looted and then reburied awaiting further collection. Who would do such a thing? Aha that is right, you remember your classics, don't you? The battle of Magnesia

Now we are on firmer ground

The Battle of Magnesia was the concluding battle of the Roman–Seleucid War, fought in 190 BC near Magnesia ad Sipylum on the plains of Lydia between Romans, led by the consul Lucius Cornelius Scipio and the Roman ally Eumenes II of Pergamum, and the army of Antiochus III the Great of the Seleucid Empire. A decisive Roman victory resulted in Roman domination over the internal affairs of a large part of the territory once controlled by the Seleucid Empire.[7]

The main historical sources for this battle are Livy and Appian.[7]


We know the battle took place as Livy and Appian told us it did. We know that following the battle that the Romans forced a humiliating peace deal at Apamea on poor old Antiochus, who was forced to give up his war elephants and pay up lots of wonga. Wisely your locals decided to bury their treasure.

See what I did there? I brought in dates and armies and scripts, to support the provenance. But there is a problem, you lot haven't heard of Antiochus. Have you? You don't know if he was Antiochus I or Antiochus III so it doesn't catch your imagination. You are bored.

I need someone bigger, more heroic or more tragic. Try this: prior to the Battle of Magnesia, the Romans had secured a famous Naval victory against the Seleucid warships at Eurymedon, where the enemy's left wing were commanded by none other than the Romans' old foe, Hannibal.

No wonder the locals buried their treasure, not only they did have the Romans stomping through, they had Antiochus the Great, and, cripes, even scarier, Hannibal was at their gates. It must be true. It is just they never got round to digging this magnificent old treasure up again......

The treasure survived, unlooted underground, waiting to be saved and transferred to the British and V and A museums.

We all like a good story. Sleep tight.
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Mick Harper
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You lost me among the Seleucids, Wiley, but since I finished my own 2,500 word epic on the Oxus Treasures for our new book just this morning I am going to reward you all for being very good girls and boys by posting it up in its entirety down among the private parts of the Reading Room.
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Hatty
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The main historical sources for this battle are Livy and Appian

First, Appian. No original manuscript survives, only "fragments". This is easily explained by the Dark Age readership preferring their history in smallish portions, not the original (allegedly) 24-volume book output

This so voluminous work early met a fate corresponding to its bulk. Undoubtedly the Byzantine age, impatient of reading and transcribing books in general, and especially of an author not very remarkable for art or genius, and who had severed the connection of the events themselves by a bad plan, preferred an immediate enjoyment of selections to the trouble of continuous reading. Their rules of dismembering an author were two, by one of which they extracted certain special passages from the whole work and brought them together according to their resemblance of subject; by the other they selected those entire books which seemed to them more important than the rest, and these alone were circulated by copying.

To this rule, often salutary and oftener pernicious, are due whatever of the fragments of Appian were collected in the Constantinian extracts, and it is truly astonishing that the compilers of these extracts were acquainted with, or gave attention to, only one volume of his works, the one containing the first nine books.

Thank you, later compilers, for the one book. Despite your omissions, the remaining, however many, books did come to light in due course, once printing was up and running

The remains of the whole work, which in one way and another were preserved, became known late

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0230%3Atext%3DManuscripts%3Achapter%3D1

Works "ascribed to Appian" were translated 'about the middle of the fifteenth century' by a humanist called Peter Candidus. Some copies of the translator's manuscripts still survive, unlike Appian's.
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Mick Harper
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It's amazing how these workaday ancient historians always have memorable names. It's a technique we modern workaday authors call 'the Appian way'.
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Hatty
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It's pretty much the same story for Livy

Unfortunately, the majority of Livy's writing has not survived. What remains, including summaries written by later authors, indicates that the History was an extensive work. It spanned nearly 800 years from the foundation of the city of Rome (753BC) to the death of Cicero (43BC) with a summary covering events down to 9BC.

According to Wiki
About 25% of the work survives (35 books of 142)

There are no contemporaneous records of Livy, his actual dates are uncertain. Fifteenth century manuscripts written by, sorry, 'rediscovered' by, humanists such as Poggio Bracciolini purported to be Livy's text. The books are now mostly in Special Collections but Livy's output was more prodigious than Appian's and bits of his stuff continued to be rediscovered

A fragmentary palimpsest of the 91st book was discovered in the Vatican Library in 1772, containing about a thousand words (roughly three paragraphs), and several papyrus fragments of previously unknown material, much smaller, have been found in Egypt since 1900, most recently about 40 words from Book 11, unearthed in 1986

A bundle of papyri fragments were presented to the British Museum by the Egypt Exploration Fund in 1906. The 'Livy papyrus' is in two parts, divided between the British and the Egyptian Museums

Fragment of P. Oxy. 668, with Epitome of Livy XLVII–XLVIII. Livy was abridged, in antiquity, to an epitome, which survives for Book 1, but was itself abridged into the so-called Periochae, which is simply a list of contents, but which survives. So some idea of the topics Livy covered in the lost books exists, if often not what he said about them.

The remaining books are preserved by a 4th-century summary entitled Periochae, except for book 136 and 137. However, these were not compiled from Livy's original text but from an abridged edition that is now lost.

It is known the books are not from Livy's original text, even though no original Livy manuscript exists, because of the numerous errors and insertions.
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Wile E. Coyote


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It's pretty much the same story for Livy


Great, they are imaginary battles.

Eurymedon was the site of two famous naval battles

The Battle of the Eurymedon was a double battle, taking place both on water and land, between the Delian League of Athens and her Allies, and the Persian Empire of Xerxes I. It took place in either 469 or 466 BCE, in the vicinity of the mouth of the Eurymedon River (now the Köprüçay) in Pamphylia, Asia Minor. It forms part of the Wars of the Delian League, itself part of the larger Greco-Persian Wars.

We know about the first imaginary battle from Thucydides.....

The richest source for the period, and also the most contemporary with it, is Thucydides's History of the Peloponnesian War, which is generally considered by modern historians to be a reliable primary account.[3][4][5] Thucydides only mentions this period in a digression on the growth of Athenian power in the run up to the Peloponnesian War, and the account is brief, probably selective and lacks any dates.[6][7] Nevertheless, Thucydides's account can be, and is used by historians to draw up a skeleton chronology for the period, on to which details from archaeological records and other writers can be superimposed.

Notice how ortho makes it up. You draw up a skeleton chronology and they add in the archaeology around this imagined chronology. The second naval battle is a Roman retelling of the first.

The Battle of the Eurymedon was fought in 190 BC between a Seleucid fleet and the navy of the city state of Rhodes, who were allied with the Roman Republic. The Rhodian fleet was led by the Roman admiral Lucius Aemilius Regillus. The Seleucid fleet's right wing was led by the court noble Apollonius. The fleet's left wing were commanded by the famous Carthaginian general Hannibal, who had gone into exile in the events following the Battle of Zama. The fleet was sent to help the armada of admiral Polyxenidas, which was blockaded in the harbor of Ephesus. Hannibal was close to hemming in the Rhodian ships under Eudamus when the Seleucid right wing was defeated by the Rhodians. Eudamus signalled for help from the victorious Rhodian ships and Hannibal's wing fled


Hannibal Redivivus. He is always at the gates.
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Wile E. Coyote


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Hannibal/Melquart was able to travel by coin. He was at the gates.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melqart#/media/File:Dishekel_hispano-cartagin%C3%A9s-2.jpg
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Hatty
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We know about the first imaginary battle from Thucydides..... The richest source for the period, and also the most contemporary with it, is Thucydides's History of the Peloponnesian War, which is generally considered by modern historians to be a reliable primary account.

The problem is there are no primary sources for Thucydides as per Wiki

The History is notoriously reticent about its sources. Thucydides almost never names his informants and alludes to competing versions of events only a handful of times.... Nevertheless, scholars have sought to detect the sources behind the various sections of the History.

Sounds uncannily similar to Bede. As with Bede's History, the original manuscript of Thucydides' History didn't survive. The earliest copies are in manuscripts dated 'palaeographically' to the ninth or tenth centuries but only collated by German historians in the 1830 - 40s.

The second naval battle is a Roman retelling of the first.

In the late fifteenth or sixteenth century (AD).

The most important manuscripts include: Codex Parisinus suppl. Gr. 255, Codex Vaticanus 126, Codex Laurentianus LXIX.2, Codex Palatinus 252, Codex Monacensis 430, Codex Monacensis 228, and Codex Britannicus II, 727.[17]

Grenfell and Hunt discovered about 20 papyrus fragments copied some time between the 1st and 6th centuries AD in Oxyrhynchus.

Oxyrrhynchus is the Egyptian dig that has produced more papyrus fragments than anywhere else.
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Hatty
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A somewhat lurid headline in a Guardian piece

Police seize 19,000 stolen artefacts in international art trafficking crackdown

101 suspects arrested and rare cultural treasures recovered in huge global investigation

The operation is reported as being carried out 'last autumn', allowing time to examine the seized objects before making it public

Details of the two concurrent investigations carried out last autumn are emerging only now for operational reasons.

Police officers in Spain recovered several rare pre-Columbian objects at Madrid’s Barajas airport, including a unique Tumaco gold mask, gold figurines and pieces of ancient jewellery. All had been illegally acquired by looting in Colombia.

Unlike the massive art sales in nineteenth-century hotels, large numbers of artefacts for sale is now evidence of criminality. There are so many that it could take years to authenticate or expose each item

Interpol said particular attention had been paid to monitoring online marketplaces. In the course of a “cyber patrol week”, officers led by the Italian carabinieri gathered information and identified targets that led to the seizure of 8,670 cultural objects offered for sale online.

Right at the end of the article a comment from the Director of Europol implies the recovered objects are suspected to be forgeries

“Organised crime has many faces,” said its executive director, Catherine de Bolle. “The trafficking of cultural goods is one of them: it is not a glamorous business run by flamboyant gentlemen forgers, but by international criminal networks.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/07/stolen-artefacts-international-art-trafficking-crackdown?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other
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Mick Harper
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Oh dear! Not guilty then. It is interesting that everyone has a vested interest in pronouncing them genuine. Inverse shades of van Meegeren.
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Mick Harper
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Quite an interesting exchange between Peter Sarris who is Professor of Late Antique, Medieval and Byzantine Studies in the University of Cambridge and Harriet Vered who isn't. It's about our old fave, the Justinian Plague
------------------------

Monica H Green@monicaMedHist
Okay, a BIBLIOGRAPHY has now been posted: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1w80dd0iZJs5qQRwyXyfzq41BiZBWFrGRQURz9rTyDXM/edit…. This is still undergoing revision. You can download it now if you want, but check back again later for the emended version. So much new work to incorporate!

Peter Sarris @peter_sarris
This remarkable bibliography also includes (as an Appendix!) the fullest and most comprehensive bibliography on the Justinianic Plague that anybody has produced - it is a major scholarly achievement in its own right

Harriet Vered@HarrietVered
The term Justinian plague is something of a misnomer since orthodox history claims it lasted, on and off, for two hundred years, the 6th to the 8th century or middle period of the Dark Age. Yet to date no contemporaneous references to the 'plague' have turned up. Can you explain?

Peter Sarris@peter_sarris
We have quite a lot of contemporary evidence - including eye-witness accounts (such as Procopius) and legal references (legislation of Justinian). We also have genetic evidence from datable burial sites. The supposed ‘Dark Ages’ were not really that ‘Dark’...

Harriet Vered@HarrietVered
There's no contemporaneous reference to Procopius, apart from his own writings: 'the source for Procopius' life is an entry in the Suda, a Byzantine encyclopaedia, written sometime after 975'. A gap of 400 years. The Suda's "ancient" sources are lost/anonymous, i.e. non-existent.

Peter Sarris@peter_sarris
Try Menander Protector ...

Harriet Vered@Harriet Vered
The little that is known of his life is contained in the account of himself quoted in the Suda. Sounds familiar.

Peter Sarris@peter_sarris
Can’t wait for you to tell me who faked Justinian’s legislation and fabricated the ancient DNA evidence....

Harriet Vered@HarrietVered
Since there is not a single scientifically dated manuscript in existence before c 1000 AD I would think it was someone after 1000 AD.

Peter Sarris@peter_sarris
Yes you would.

Harriet Vered@HarrietVered
If you know of such a manuscript, I will be happy to change my mind.

Peter Sarris@peter_sarris
We are clearly playing ‘Turing’s Test’

Harriet Vered@HarrietVered
That would never do. It was Nicholas Alemanni in 1623.

Peter Sarris@peter_sarris
We have contemporary epigraphical and papyrological attestations for Justinian’s Novels and Edicts, and the Novels were received into and replicated in Byzantine canon law and the Basilica, as well as the ‘epitomes’. The Latin translation of the Authenticum has early MSS.

Harriet Vered@HarrietVered
None of your citations have been scientifically dated so I will stick with Nicholas.

-------------------------

It wasn't even close. You'll have to ask Professor Pete what he means by 'fabricating ancient DNA evidence' and what 'a contemporary epigraphical attestation' is. We might track down why the splendidly named Nicholas Alemanni did it. Something to do with the outbreak of the Thirty Years War I would imagine.
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Boreades


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Mick Harper wrote:
You'll have to ask Professor Pete what he means by 'fabricating ancient DNA evidence' and what 'a contemporary epigraphical attestation' is.


Isn't "fabricating ancient DNA evidence" a Straw Man Argument? Or something like that? Anyway, aren't they on shaky ground when DNA evidence makes a nonsense of their legends and suppositions?
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