Forging Antiquity

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

Types of papyrus forgery: Simulated Script

Many fake papyri are not in any real language, but are nonsensical scribbles which bear a faint similarity to Greek or some other ancient script intended to fool the untrained eye into thinking it is seeing ancient writing. These hoodwinked many unwary buyers of papyrus in Egypt in the late 19th and early 20th century, or were hidden in larger lots purchased by knowledgeable buyers, and can be found in most papyrus collections. The papyrus illustrated here, P.Mich.inv. 1879 from the papyrus collection of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, is one such example, intended to mimic a cursive documentary script.

P. Mich. inv. 1879. Source: University of Michigan Papyrology Collection. Image digitally reproduced with the permission of the Papyrology Collection, Graduate Library, University of Michigan.