Forging Antiquity

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

The papyri of Constantine Simonides.

One of the chief focuses of the project will be the papyri forged in the mid 19th century by Constantine Simonides, who created a suite of papyri containing Christian scripture, Greek historical works, and private letters from the Egyptian papyri in the collection of Joseph Mayer, an antiquities collector from Liverpool. The image below shows the facsimile of a papyrus which pretended to be from the lost Ecclesiastical History of Hegesippus, which (conveniently) confirmed both Simonides’ theories about the New Testament and material found in some of his other forgeries. The papyrus is today housed in the World Museum Liverpool.

The 'Hegesippus' papyrus of Constantine Simonides. Source: C. Simonides, Facsimiles of certain portions of the Gospel of St. Matthew, and of the Epistles of SS. James and Jude (London: Trübner, 1861), pl. XIV.