Friday, October 30, 2009

Forgery on eBay

Apparently, Turkey is the new Cyprus.

A while back, I posted on an eBay seller who was in the business of dissecting and selling Coptic manuscripts (here). He was advertising the manuscripts as 11th century when they likely date from the 17th-19th centuries. He is currently attempting to sell a 9 meter long "Propably (sic) pre 8 Th (sic) Century ... ANCIENT CHRISTIAN COPTIC UNCIAL MANUSCRIPT BIBLE LEAF" (here). I was unable to read the "Coptic" and suspected the text was Syriac, but could not decipher anything for some reason, so I asked an expert. Prof. J. F. Coakley described the manuscript as follows:

"Looks as if someone has stitched together 20 or 30 sheets of vellum and written gibberish Syriac in gold paint on them. Presto - an ancient ms. scroll."

The seller guarantees that his products are "% 100 original," and this item can be yours for only 40,000 US dollars (OBO). The seller actually has a large number of papyri which may be quite ancient on his website, although I would suggest that buyers solicit a scholarly opinion before purchasing anything. The seller is clearly not intending to deceive, but rather misrepresents his manuscripts out of ignorance. I would renew my suggestion that eBay solicit a team of independent experts who can identify, date and catalog images of any written texts which potentially predate the invention of the printing press.

1 comment

  1. Yes, it looks pretty much like a forgery to me. Someone has copied Syriac letter-by-letter, but some of the ligatures are missing. The letters are also far too big.