Jordan University of Science and Technology

Genuine or forged? Assessing the authenticity of a confiscated manuscript using radiocarbon dating and archaeometric techniques

Khaled Al-Bashaireh, AbdelRahman
ElSerogy, Emad Hussein & Muhamad

The authenticity of a confiscated parchment manuscript written in medieval Hebrew was examined using radiocarbon and archaeometric techniques. The owners of the manuscript claimed that it is old and valuable. Transmitted light showed folios of uniform thickness and opacity, while examination under ultraviolet light displayed the absence of conservation treatments. X-ray fluorescence showed the ink used was iron gall ink. On these grounds, the manuscript could be dated to the Middle Ages. However, the precision and homogeneity of the hand writing, sewing, dimensions, and margins suggest that it is a much more recent artifact. Post-bomb radiocarbon dates for the folios and threads clearly demonstrate the recent vintage of the manuscript. Biological analysis suggests that the manuscript was buried in a soil intentionally amended with animal wastes to achieve rapid aging and deterioration features.