Forging Antiquity

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

Typology of Forged Manuscripts

The typology of forged manuscripts adopted by the project separates forgeries into four categories based on their script, text, or physical characteristics.

Nonsensical script

This category is a spectrum running between two types of script:

Composite manuscript

Pieces of papyrus from separate original manuscripts, attached together to form a single sheet, thus creating a new artefact and a new text is generated, which is almost always nonsensical. Sometimes nonsensical scripts are written on these composites.


A text substantially composed by the forger. This category can be subdivided as follows.

Copies of existing texts

While such forgeries all reproduce, at least in aspiration, an existing ancient text, sub-categories can be recognised. As separating the first two categories depends to some extent on divining the intent of the forger, they cannot always be distinguished.