Exposing the Burrows Cave Myth

Here’s a welcome post on the (in)famous Burrows cave from the Ohio Archaeology blog (HT: Jason Colavito on Twitter). I’ve gotten a number of inquiries over the years about its “ancient inscriptions” and other items that allegedly prove the Phoenicians (or Lost Tribes of Israel) came to America in antiquity.

The author of the post is Brad Lepper, the curator of archaeology at the Ohio Historical Society. Lepper links from this post to another article of his in the Columbus Dispatch for good measure. Check out both if Burrows is new to you or you’ve heard about it before and had only one side of the story presented.

The post ends with links to learn more about the Burrows’ Cave chicanery.

Falling Into Burrows Cave

Burrows Cave: a modern hoax

2009 Burrows Cave Update

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Update on the Lead Codices from Jordan

I’m guessing the of the lead codices is off the radar of most readers by now. Jim Davila posted this notice on his PaleoJudaica blog today that provides some updating and commentary. I’m with Davila; I think they are fakes for very good reasons (as he sketches here — and see the links he provides). The annual scholarly conferences are fast approaching (mid November) and so I’ll be keeping an eye and ear open for any items related to this piece of Paleobabble (and others for sure).

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Lead Codices to Be Tested

Todd Bolen reports today that the lead codices already widely considered to be fraudulent will be undergoing testing by antiquities authorities. For those of you just getting up to speed on this, here’s a link to an overview of the reasons they are considered fakes.

I can only hope that the results of scientific materials testing isn’t allowed to trump the other data. What I mean here will be familiar to anyone who has ever read (or remembers the TV mini-series back in the 70s I think) a book by Irving Wallace called “The Word.” In that thriller, a fake Aramaic gospel was produced on authentic manuscript material via authentic ink dating to the first century. How it was pulled off in the story was ingenious, but relatively simple. So if the lead materials date to the first century, that settles nothing. The other data are still telling.

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Lead Codices Update

Here’s a post from the Bible Places blog that offers a couple links summarizing the lead codices fraud.  Here’s a paragraph:

Let’s take stock. The Greek is lifted nonsensically from an inscription published in 1958. The forger couldn’t tell the difference between the Greek letters alpha and lambda. The Hebrew script is taken from the same inscription. The Hebrew text is in “code,” i.e., is gibberish. The “Jesus” face is taken from a well-known mosaic. The charioteer is taken from a fake coin. The crocodile has a suspicious resemblance to a plastic toy.

It also has some links to material that gives the media a spanking for perpetuating its own blather without apology. Another paragraph:

The only other noteworthy news is the lack of it. Trust me, the mainstream media have been informed about the true status of the fake codices. The lack of coverage is not due to ignorance, it’s due to unprofessional indifference. Think about that. When the media report a sensationalist story and it proves to be bogus, they feel no responsibility to inform their readers of the truth. I suppose they might if they think they can get another sensation out of the correct story, but if not, they can’t be bothered. Journalists used to feel a professional obligation to their audience. No more.

Davila is actually too kind there.

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Lead Codices: It’s Looking Like a Hoax

Dr. Jim Davila over at PaleoJudaica as this post this morning on the codices. The post features a short, to-the-point, evidence-based analysis by professor Peter Thonemann, of some of the pages of the codices, noting inconsistencies in the story and, more importantly, how the textual contents were copied from a known source in a Jordanian museum!

There are some nice high-resolution photos at the link as well.

How was the professor able to establish fakery so quickly? Simple. Once texts like this are released (that is the key — letting experts see them), it is a simple matter to do what professor Thonemann did:  transcribe them and then look up the words in concordances (digital or otherwise). In this case, there were a number of known words (specific forms) and they all happened to occur in the same text(s) — in order (!) once those source texts are checked. This required experimenting a bit with the alpha and lambda letters since they are similar in form (and that was bungled by the forger). Once at this point, you know you have LINES from known texts. The next step is to find where those texts were published through a simple database source. Publications usually note the provenance of a text (where it was found) and where it is now held, in the case of a manuscript or archaeological artifact. Voila!

For any ancient astronaut theorists or cult archaeologists out there — this is *precisely* why the people you blindly follow do *not* submit their work to peer review.  It is too easy to be exposed by real experts.It is also precisely why I continually ask people who promote such nonsense, “show me the texts — the specific lines cited.” That demand is never met, which hardly surprises me. When selling snake oil, you don’t hand the recipe to a chemist.

Now, a prediction. None of this will make any difference to “researchers” who want to press some point of nonsense to peddle the paleobabble that makes them money and gives them a following.

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Lead Tablet Discovery: Let the Archaeology Presstitution Begin

Well, you know it’s going to happen. This sort of discovery, if valid, will introduce a new wave of archaeo-porn for archaeo-media presstitutes everywhere — and of course their mystic “researchers” across cyberspace who are just waiting for the next piece of antiquity news to twist into yet more revisionist mytho-history about Jesus and the early Christians. What fun!

Here’s a very nice posting (“Lead Codices Silliness“) that sketches the already-encroaching silliness factor. Now Robert Feather has weighed in — the guy who believes the Copper Scroll from Qumran is related to Akhenaten and his Aten-worship. Feather thinks the lead codices have Kabbalah written all over them. No kidding. All that from some pictures on the web. Now that’s scholarship. Is his last name an abbreviation of “feather-brain”? No doubt it will get even wackier (and yes, it can).

I wonder when the likes of Michael Baigent, Christopher Knight, Robert Lomas, and Lynn Picknett will get involved. Then we’ll have a non-sequitur Battle Royal on our hands.

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Early Alphabet

Pretty informative piece from Chris Rollston (an epigrapher) on the early alphabet. This is a favorite subject of mine.  I post it here because from time to time I run across paleobabble about “mystical  meanings” that derive from the shape of the Hebrew alphabet. Hate to disabuse anyone of this (actually, I don’t mind), but the Hebrew alphabet originally looked nothing like it does today (or even as it did in the days of the Qumran scribes).  The alphabet began centuries before the “mystical block script” was ever even imagined). Just because someone can “explain” how kabbalists think doesn’t mean that what kabbalists claim conforms to reality. And when it comes to letter shapes, the *best* that could be said is that the Babylonian (not Jewish) scribes who invented the “block” style of Hebrew letters we know today had some sort of esoteric thoughts in their head about them — but it’s too bad they never wrote those thoughts down.

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