Forging Antiquity

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



We will blog on the project at the Markers of Authenticity blog.


M. Choat, ‘The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife: A Preliminary Paleographical Assessment’, Harvard Theological Review 107 (2014), 160–62.

In press

M. Choat, ‘The Case of Papyrus Fakes’, in The Art Crime Handbook, ed. D. Chappell and S. Hufnagel (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, in press).

M. Choat, ‘Dating and Authenticating papyri, from Mabillon to the present day’, Journal for the Study of the New Testament.

In preparation

R. Lucarelli and M. Choat, ‘Forged Copies of the Book of the Dead”, to be submitted to The Oxford Handbook of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, edd. Rita Lucarelli and Martin Stadler.

R. Yuen-Collingridge, ‘The first forged papyrus in Euorpe: Pierre Hamon and his work on ancient scripts’.

M. Choat and T. Wasserman, ‘The Cable guy: the biblical papyri of Constantine Simonides’.

Work is also in progress by Yuen-Collingridge, Choat, and Schwendner on other parts of the Simonides corpus, as well as on the historical circumstances of his career.


Papers given by the team on the themes of the project.

Malcolm Choat, Panelist: ‘Provenance in an eBay World: Does the Provenance of Ancient Artifacts Matter?’, Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting Atlanta, 23 November 2015.

Malcolm Choat, ‘Forged memories, real emotions: discourses of authenticity and the debate over fake artifacts’, Moving Minds: Converting cognition and emotion in history, Macquarie University, Sydney, 2–4 March 2016.

Rachel-Yuen Collingridge ‘Zukunftsgeschichte and the future of history’, Markers of Authenticity, Macquarie University, 11 March 2016.

Malcolm Choat , ‘What is a forgery? Constantine Simonides, the Joseph Mayer papyri, and Hermippus of Beirut’, Markers of Authenticity, Macquarie University, 1 April 2016.

Malcolm Choat, ‘From Constantine Simonides to the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife: the Authentication of Papyri and Development of Palaeography’, Manuscript Forgeries and Counterfeiting Scripture in the Twenty-First Century, University of Agder, 13–15 April 2016.

Malcolm Choat, ‘Forging Antiquity: An overview of the Project’, Manuscript Forgeries and Counterfeiting Scripture in the Twenty-First Century, University of Agder, 13–15 April 2016.

Malcolm Choat, ‘Constantine Simonides and his Biblical Papyri’, Scripture, Reception, and Authenticity, a Markers of Authenticity workshop, 9 September 2016.

Malcolm Choat, ‘Speed-Dating Papyri: Familiarity, Instinct, and Guesswork’, Panel: Dating Early Christian Papyri: Old and New Methods, Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting, San Antonio, 21 November 2016.

Malcolm Choat, ‘Hermippus of Beirut, Simonides of Symi, and the forgery of papyri’, Australasian Society for Classical Studies Annual Conference, Victoria University, Wellington, 31 January–3 February 2017.

Malcolm Choat and Rachel Yuen-Collingridge, ‘Jean Mabillon, Pierre Hamon, and the first forged papyrus in Europe’, Australia and New Zealand Association for Medieval and Early Modern Studies biennial conference, Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand, 7–10 February 2017.

Malcolm Choat, Rachel Yuen-Collingridge, and Vanessa Mawby, ‘Forging Antiquity: Insights from a new ARC Discovery Project’, Markers of Authenticity, Macquarie University, 2 June 2017.

Lauren Dundler in discussion with Iain Shearer, ‘The Internet Antiquities Trade: Insight into an Invisible Market?’, Markers of Authenticity, Macquarie University, 9 June 2017.

Lauren Dundler, ‘Collecting Papyrus in the 21st Century: Price, Provenance and Personae’,Immortal Words: Classical Antiquity Then and Now: AMPHORAE XI, University of Sydney, 12–14 July 2017.

Malcolm Choat and Tommy Wasserman, ‘The Cable Guy: Constantine Simonides and His New Testament Papyri’, Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting, Boston, 18 November 2017.

Malcolm Choat, Panelist: ‘The United States of Hobby Lobby’, Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting, Boston, 20 November 2017.

Lauren Dundler, ‘(Re)Defining Provenance: Origins, Authenticity, and a Performance of Taste in the Internet Market for Papyrus’, Australasian Society for Classical Studies Annual Conference, University of Queensland, 30 January – 2 February 2018.

Malcolm Choat, ‘The Forger and the Chemist: Constantine Simonides, Henry Deane, and the (de)authentication of Forged Manuscripts’, Humanities Research Centre Seminar Series, Australian National University, 27 February 2018.

There are a range of projects being currently undertaken in various institutions on issues related to forged antiquities. Below we list those of which we are aware: to alert us to others, please email

The Lying Pen of Scribes. Manuscript Forgeries and Counterfeiting Scripture in the Twenty-First Century
A project based at the University of Agder in Norway, concentrating on forged manuscripts which have come to light in the last fifteen years, with a special focus on recently published and publicised Dead Sea Scrolls material. Also visit them on facebook.
False testimonianze. Copie, contraffazioni, manipolazioni e abusi del documento epigrafico antico
A National Research Project funded by the Italian Ministry of Education, based at Ca' Foscari University of Venice and led by Lorenzo Calvelli, this project focuses on fake Roman inscriptions. For further information on the project, see this announcement.
Forged antiquities -- a forthcoming book by Christopher Rollston
Christopher Rollston (institutional page) is writing a book on ancient and modern epigraphic and other forgeries; see also his blog.
Forgery and the Ancient: Art, Agency, Authorship
The 2017--2018 Seminar of the Humanities Research Center at Rice University, Texas is based on the theme 'Forgery and the Ancient'. Further information may be found at Rice's seminars page.
Leibniz Research Alliance Historical Authenticity
The Leibniz Research Alliance on Historical Authenticity explores contemporary conceptions of authenticity through a range of approaches.
Ancient Ink Laboratory – Columbia University
Part of the Columbia Nano Initiative, the Ancient Ink Laboratory brings together physicists, conservators, and papyrologists to investigate the nature of the inks used on papyri, including work on the 'Gospel of Jesus' Wife' and the associated Gospel of John fragment.
'Imitations, copies et faux. Des rives du Nil à Rome.'
A report on a recent symposium of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres on this theme.


A selection of earlier work on forged papyri (to be expanded in the future).

Coles R.A. and Gallazzi, C. “Papyri and Ostraka: Alterations and Counterfeits”, in Scritti in onore di Orsolina Montevecchi (Bologna: Clueb, 1981), pp. 99–105.

Horak, U. “Fälschungen auf Papyrus, Pergament, Papier und Ostraka”, Tyche 6(1991), pp. 91–98.

Horak, U. “Fälschungen auf Papyrus, Pergament und Papier”, in C. Gastgeber (ed.), Kopie und Fälschung (Graz: Adeva Akademische Druck- und Verlagsanstalt, 2001), pp. 51–60.

Schmidt, C. “Über moderne Papyrusfälschungen”, in Actes du Ve Congrès international de Papyrologie, Oxford 30 août-3 septembre 1937 (Bruxelles: Fondation égyptologique reine Élisabeth, 1938), pp. 370–380.