Forging Antiquity

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

Types of papyrus forgery: Composites

One of the most common category of fakes is composites made by sticking together a number of fragments from genuine papyri. Sometimes the pieces come from the one original papyrus, but often they are easily recognisable because clearly separate papyri have been attached to one another. The papyrus illustrated here, P.Col. inv. 543b from the Rare Book and Manuscript Library of Columbia University, was catalogued as the fragment of a letter (which it was intended to appear to be), but is in fact four fragments from a copy of Homer’s Iliad: for its publication see Julia Lougovaya, ‘A Homeric Collage in Columbia University’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library’, Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 196 (2015) 13–16.

P.Col.inv.543b. Source: Columbia University Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Image: Columbia University Libraries.