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Lead Plates Press Release

Lead Plates Press Release

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Published by David J. Larsen
Recent press release on the discovery of a cache of ancient lead plates in Jordan.
Recent press release on the discovery of a cache of ancient lead plates in Jordan.

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: David J. Larsen on Mar 25, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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12/18/2013

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London 22nd March 2011 - For Immediate Release
On Behalf of David and Jennifer Elkington
SECRET HOARD OF ANCIENT SEALED BOOKSFOUND IN JORDAN
One of the biggest and best preserved hoards of ancient sealed books, whichhad been secretly hidden for centuries, has been discovered in Jordan. Earlyindications are that some of the books could date from the first century CE/ADand may be among the earliest Christian documents, predating the writings of St Paul. Leading academics consider that the find might be as pivotal as thediscovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947.The hoard consists of up to 70 ring-bound books (codices) made of lead andcopper. Many of them are sealed on all sides. Scrolls, tablets and other artefacts, including an incense bowl, were also found at the same site. Someof the lead pages are written in a form of archaic Hebrew script with ancientmessianic symbols. Some of the writing appears to be in a form of code.There is likely to be considerable academic and political debate about thecollection’s authenticity, meaning and interpretation. But now there is also arace against time to safeguard the collection’s future. Having been originallydiscovered some 5 years ago in a remote cave within a militarized zone byJordanian Bedouin, the hoard was subsequently acquired by an IsraeliBedouin, who illegally smuggled them across the Border into Israel, wherethey remain hidden under his protection.However, legal advice has confirmed that the find qualifies as treasure troveunder Jordanian law, and is rightly the property of the Kingdom of Jordan. TheJordanian Government is now working at the highest levels to repatriate andsafeguard the collection. The British team leading the work on the discoveryfears that the present Israeli ‘keeper’ may be looking to sell some of the bookson to the black market, or worse - destroy them.The collection appears to be of mixed provenance. But initial metallurgicaltests indicate that some of the books made of lead could date from the firstcentury CE/AD, based on the form of corrosion which has taken place, whichexperts believe would be impossible to achieve artificially.Sealed books were used by early Christian writers as a code for secretteaching; they were heavily persecuted and needed to protect their knowledge. Until now, no such book has ever been found. The codices werediscovered in an area to which Christian refugees are known to have fled after the fall of Jerusalem in 70CE/AD, and where important documents from thesame period have previously been found. The existence of a significant,hidden collection of sealed codices is mentioned in the Christian Bible’s Bookof Revelation and in other biblical books.
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The team involved in bringing the find to the world’s attention has been led byDavid Elkington, a British scholar of the early Christian period and of ancientreligious history. David has been supported by his wife Jennifer and a smallteam of leading international academic experts, including Dr. Margaret Barker,Co-founder of the Temple Studies Group and former President of the Societyfor Old Testament Study, and Professor Philip Davies, Emeritus Professor of Biblical Studies at Sheffield University and an authority on the Dead SeaScrolls.David and Jennifer Elkington informed the Kingdom of Jordan about the findat an early stage and, following more recent briefings, are now working withthe Department of Antiquities in Amman in order to safeguard its future.Much further investigation will be needed to confirm the authenticity, meaningand full significance of the find. It is intended that an educational foundationwill be created to promote long-term research into this find and relateddiscoveries, to enable greater understanding of the fragmented - oftenconflicting - origins of Christianity, for the benefit of the whole world.Preparations are being made for a documentary film about the discovery, inconjunction with a leading television network, and the publication of a book.In announcing the find, David Elkington said: “It is an enormous privilege to beable to reveal this discovery to the world. But, as ever, the find begs morequestions than it answers. The academic and spiritual debate must nowcommence, and this needs a calm and rational environment to be mostproductive. So it is vital that the collection can be recovered intact andsecured in the best possible circumstances, both for the benefit of its ownersand for a potentially fascinated international audience”.Dr Zaid Al Saad, Director General of the Department of Antiquities of theHashemite Kingdom of Jordan, said “The Department is delighted to beworking with David and Jennifer Elkington in order to recover and safeguardthis important collection, to enable it to be fully researched, authenticated andunderstood. We much appreciate David and Jennifer’s work to date”.Commenting on the discovery, Dr Margaret Barker said: “The Book of Revelation tells of a sealed book that was opened only by the Messiah. Other texts from the period tell of sealed books of wisdom and of a secret traditionpassed on by Jesus to his closest disciples. That is the context for thisdiscovery. So if they are forgeries, what are they forgeries of?”Professor Philip Davies said: “My own scrutiny suggests to me and to severalof my colleagues that the form of the archaic Semitic script corresponds wellto what was used in the era 200BCE-100CE. The codex format of thedocuments is also known to have been adopted by Christians from about thefirst century CE. However much of the writing appears to be in code and manyof the images are unfamiliar. The possibility of a Hebrew-Christian origin iscertainly suggested by the imagery and, if so, these codices are likely to bringdramatic new light to our understanding of a very significant but so far little
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understood period of history”.
ENDSNotes to Editors
 1. David Elkington has been shown many of the artefacts by the currentpossessor of them, who wished to understand their significance, and wasallowed to photograph some of them in their present location for researchpurposes. But he makes no claim of ownership, which, based on the legaladvice he has received, rightly rests with the Kingdom of Jordan.Given the controversy and competition which the discovery of ancientartefacts always promotes – both academic and commercial – David iskeen to ensure that the find can now be properly and professionallyinvestigated, in a safe and secure place, with the full support of theKingdom of Jordan and with the benefit of access to the world’s leadingexperts.David has worked to date entirely on a voluntary basis, with the support of many friends, alongside the generous help of many leading experts in thisfield.2. BCE and CE are increasingly used by classical scholars in place of themore colloquially used terminology of BC and AD respectively.3. Particular observations from the codices include:
The codices show many symbols of the Feast of Tabernacles, Sukkot,which was associated with the enthronement of the ancient Davidic kingsin Jerusalem, and later with the coming of the Messiah.
There are clear images of the menorah (the seven branched lamp), leafybranches and etrogim, the large citrus fruits used at Tabernacles.
There are also fruiting palm trees, well known from coins of the latesecond temple period and the time of the Bar Kochba war.
There are blocks of paleo-Hebrew script, which could be from theHasmonean period, 2nd-1st century BCE, but the experts consulted todate believe these to be in code.Further information will be released in due course once the security of theartefacts has been assured.
David Elkington
is the author of ‘In the Name of the Gods’, the highlyacclaimed academic thesis on the resonance and acoustical origins of religion. David is primarily an Egyptologist, specializing in Egypt-Palestinian links that have inevitably drawn him into the field of Biblicalstudies. He has lectured at universities all over the world and written manypapers on ancient history and linguistics.
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