Scrolls and lead codices?

According to the BBC website,

A group of 70 or so “books”, each with between five and 15 lead leaves bound by lead rings, was apparently discovered in a remote arid valley in northern Jordan somewhere between 2005 and 2007. A flash flood had exposed two niches inside the cave, one of them marked with a menorah or candlestick, the ancient Jewish religious symbol. A Jordanian Bedouin opened these plugs, … the Jordanian government … claims they were smuggled into Israel by another Bedouin. The Israeli Bedouin who currently holds the books … 

The books, or “codices”, were apparently cast in lead, before being bound by lead rings. Their leaves – which are mostly about the size of a credit card – contain text in Ancient Hebrew, most of which is in code. …

One of the few people to see the collection is David Elkington, a scholar of ancient religious archaeology who is heading a British team trying to get the lead books safely into a Jordanian museum.

Elkington, however, may not be a reputable scholar, at least according to blogger Clayboy here.

Another blogger has more details here.

The owner of the cache is a Bedouin named Hassan Saeda who lives in the village of Um-al-Ghanam in the north of Israel,according to the Sunday Times. He is believed to have obtained them after they were discovered in northern Jordan.

Two samples were sent to a laboratory in England where they were examined by Peter Northover, head of the materials science-based archaeology group. The verdict was inconclusive without more tests, but he said the composition was ‘consistent with a range of ancient lead.’

Larry Hurtado comments here.

The writing is reported as some kind of Hebrew but coded.  Until the items are competently read, we don’t even know what their contents are.   The items are miniature codices, of a size that suggests private usage, and, so far as I know, suggests a date much later than the first century (there seems to have been an upswing in the production of miniature codices from ca. 3rd century CE onward). 

Finally, the incidence of the forgery of artefacts is so great that any responsible scholar must express profound hesitation about making any judgement on such items until they have been properly analysed.  Especially in light of the “Jesus bone-box” drama, we might all take a few deep breaths and simply call for the items to be put into the public domain for competent study before more rash and pointless claims are proffered.

What we need, clearly, is a team of reputable scholars to examine the things.  There is real money being demanded, apparently, as in all such cases.  We all know that Israel is the centre of a great deal of forgery, doubtless because of the combination of an excellent system of education, ready access to the best references, and a large population of groups like bedouin who are not especially noted for high moral standards towards non-members of the group.

Let us hope the find is genuine.  Let us hope, further, that it is significant.  Like Larry, I suspect it is not Christian but Jewish, and, if genuine, somewhat later in date than is suggested.


9 thoughts on “Scrolls and lead codices?

  1. any reason why you did not publish my comments which knowing the books well are based on fact?

  2. The Books were initially discovered by a Bedouin from Shibli working with Saeda
    He befriended a taxi driver in Jordan and bought the first lot from him. He travelled quite freely back to Israel and later Europe. NO one was interested to even meet him let alone examine the books which were even offered to the British Library
    Later with Hassan Saeda he paid Elkington and several others to visit Israel and photograph and examine the books AND to get them authenticated. They were more interested though in writing their own ” mystery” novels and self promotion.
    They did however hold on to several books in the UK for a year and NOT ONCE did Elkington approach the Jordanian Authorities or any one else to hand these supposed rare books back!
    Eventually they told they gave the books back to the Bedouins who returned to Israel
    Naturally the Bedouins saw no reason to continue contact and some what sidelined Elkington and Feather started their own private press campaigns
    Happy to supply lots of photos and information without copyright restrictions
    Elkington has never been more than a paid hand wanting to make a buck

  3. In addition they obtained Israeli Export Lisences under false pretence. The books were already in Europe. They just wanted to covet their own backs, ie. Elkington Feather and the like
    Many other more reputable scholars have seen the books but have reserved judgment and remained discreet

  4. Larry’s comments tie in with the findings of an extremely reputable Israeli Antiquarian who examined the books on one of the Bedouins first visits to Europe long before the press attention seekers became involved.
    The two Bedouin owners ( Shibli and Saeda) are more than happy to be interviewed to set the record straight
    Photos of the Cave are dubious. They never knew where the books came from. The Cave story was ” invented” to placate Elkington Feather etc. What is certain though is the original owner only had 20 books. Later others appeared

  5. Hi,

    The reason I haven’t said more about your very interesting posts is that I don’t know anything about you. You could be anyone, as far as I know! So you see, I was wondering how you know all this, you see.

    All the best,


  6. And, For all the sceptics, there are still a few honest Bedouins out there! Just a shame no one took them seriously when they first brought the books to Europe to be authenticated.

  7. I think you ought to contact some mainstream journalists, you know? Perhaps people at the Daily Mail, who published articles on the find? The Wikipedia article will give you links, and they would be much better people for you to talk to.

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