Forging Antiquity

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

September 2018 (exact dates TBD), Macquarie University, Sydney

The how and why of editing forgeries is a largely inarticulated domain. Whilst forgeries are ubiquitous in collections everywhere, they remain understudied and unappreciated. Efforts have concentrated on the identification of tell-tale signs of duplicity rather than on the mechanics used to feign authenticity. As the intention of forgers differs from that of ancient 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 editions of textual forgeries from antiquity through to the Renaissance.

For further information or to offer a paper, please email malcolm@forgingantiquity.com