Forging Antiquity

The website for the Australian Research Council Discovery Project: Forging Antiquity: Authenticity, forgery and fake papyri

20–22 September 2018,

Macquarie University, Sydney

The how and why of editing forged texts is a largely unarticulated domain. Whilst forgeries are ubiquitous in collections everywhere, they remain understudied and unappreciated. Efforts have concentrated on the identification of telltale signs of duplicity, rather than on the mechanics used to feign authenticity. As the intention of forgers differs from that of pre-modern scribes, the publication of textual remains cannot proceed as usual. Lacunae may be intentional and text fragmentary from its inception.

Palaeographical description and the registering of other metatextual features are further complicated by the aspirations and failures of forgers. What sorts of comparisons are possible or even responsible? How much of the traditional repertoire of conventional signs and symbols should we read into ambiguous marks? Do we engage with the artefact as executed or imagined? Is it ethical to publish editions which make transparent forgers’ techniques? Does scholarly engagement with forgeries merely warn future fakers of things they should avoid?

These questions illustrate some of the potential problems which attend the publication of forgeries. These issues will form the basis of discussion through the presentation of a diverse range of textual forgeries purporting to be from antiquity through to the Renaissance. A a two-day workshop on on 20th–21st September in which participants each present a forged text and discuss ways to best edit and study them will be followed by a day of lectures on synthetic themes for a wider audience on Saturday 22nd.

The keynote speaker will be Professor Christopher Rollston, Associate Professor of Northwest Semitic languages and literatures, Department of Classical and Near Eastern languages and Civilizations, George Washington University, Washington D.C. Other confirmed speakers are Dr Rodney Ast (University of Heidelberg), Dr Levi Roach (University of Exeter), A/Prof. Malcolm Choat (Macquarie University), and Dr Rachel Yuen-Collingridge (Macquarie Univeristy). Other speakers will be added here as their participation is confirmed.

Offers of papers are welcome, and should be addressed to Malcolm Choat at malcolm@forgingantiquity.com by April 13th. Expressions of interest in participating should identify a forged manuscript which will be examined in the workshop. “Manuscript” should be understood broadly, to include any surface used for writing, including but not limited to papyrus, parchment, paper, metal, stone, wood, and pottery. The chronological range of the conference (in terms of when the forgeries have been asserted to date to) is antiquity through to the Renaissance, but papers on forgeries from after this period which address the themes of the conference will also be considered.

For further information please email malcolm@forgingantiquity.com