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London 22nd March 2011 - For Immediate Release

On Behalf of David and Jennifer Elkington

SECRET HOARD OF ANCIENT SEALED BOOKS


FOUND IN JORDAN

One of the biggest and best preserved hoards of ancient sealed books, which
had been secretly hidden for centuries, has been discovered in Jordan. Early
indications are that some of the books could date from the first century CE/AD
and may be among the earliest Christian documents, predating the writings of
St Paul. Leading academics consider that the find might be as pivotal as the
discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947.

The hoard consists of up to 70 ring-bound books (codices) made of lead and


copper. Many of them are sealed on all sides. Scrolls, tablets and other
artefacts, including an incense bowl, were also found at the same site. Some
of the lead pages are written in a form of archaic Hebrew script with ancient
messianic symbols. Some of the writing appears to be in a form of code.

There is likely to be considerable academic and political debate about the


collection’s authenticity, meaning and interpretation. But now there is also a
race against time to safeguard the collection’s future. Having been originally
discovered some 5 years ago in a remote cave within a militarized zone by
Jordanian Bedouin, the hoard was subsequently acquired by an Israeli
Bedouin, who illegally smuggled them across the Border into Israel, where
they remain hidden under his protection.

However, legal advice has confirmed that the find qualifies as treasure trove
under Jordanian law, and is rightly the property of the Kingdom of Jordan. The
Jordanian Government is now working at the highest levels to repatriate and
safeguard the collection. The British team leading the work on the discovery
fears that the present Israeli ‘keeper’ may be looking to sell some of the books
on to the black market, or worse - destroy them.

The collection appears to be of mixed provenance. But initial metallurgical


tests indicate that some of the books made of lead could date from the first
century CE/AD, based on the form of corrosion which has taken place, which
experts believe would be impossible to achieve artificially.

Sealed books were used by early Christian writers as a code for secret
teaching; they were heavily persecuted and needed to protect their
knowledge. Until now, no such book has ever been found. The codices were
discovered 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 the
same period have previously been found. The existence of a significant,
hidden collection of sealed codices is mentioned in the Christian Bible’s Book
of 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 by
David Elkington, a British scholar of the early Christian period and of ancient
religious history. David has been supported by his wife Jennifer and a small
team of leading international academic experts, including Dr. Margaret Barker,
Co-founder of the Temple Studies Group and former President of the Society
for Old Testament Study, and Professor Philip Davies, Emeritus Professor of
Biblical Studies at Sheffield University and an authority on the Dead Sea
Scrolls.

David and Jennifer Elkington informed the Kingdom of Jordan about the find
at an early stage and, following more recent briefings, are now working with
the Department of Antiquities in Amman in order to safeguard its future.

Much further investigation will be needed to confirm the authenticity, meaning


and full significance of the find. It is intended that an educational foundation
will be created to promote long-term research into this find and related
discoveries, to enable greater understanding of the fragmented - often
conflicting - origins of Christianity, for the benefit of the whole world.

Preparations are being made for a documentary film about the discovery, in
conjunction with a leading television network, and the publication of a book.

In announcing the find, David Elkington said: “It is an enormous privilege to be


able to reveal this discovery to the world. But, as ever, the find begs more
questions than it answers. The academic and spiritual debate must now
commence, and this needs a calm and rational environment to be most
productive. So it is vital that the collection can be recovered intact and
secured in the best possible circumstances, both for the benefit of its owners
and for a potentially fascinated international audience”.

Dr Zaid Al Saad, Director General of the Department of Antiquities of the


Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, said “The Department is delighted to be
working with David and Jennifer Elkington in order to recover and safeguard
this important collection, to enable it to be fully researched, authenticated and
understood. 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 tradition
passed on by Jesus to his closest disciples. That is the context for this
discovery. So if they are forgeries, what are they forgeries of?”

Professor Philip Davies said: “My own scrutiny suggests to me and to several
of my colleagues that the form of the archaic Semitic script corresponds well
to what was used in the era 200BCE-100CE. The codex format of the
documents is also known to have been adopted by Christians from about the
first century CE. However much of the writing appears to be in code and many
of the images are unfamiliar. The possibility of a Hebrew-Christian origin is
certainly suggested by the imagery and, if so, these codices are likely to bring
dramatic new light to our understanding of a very significant but so far little

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understood period of history”. ENDS
Notes to Editors

1. David Elkington has been shown many of the artefacts by the current
possessor of them, who wished to understand their significance, and was
allowed to photograph some of them in their present location for research
purposes. But he makes no claim of ownership, which, based on the legal
advice he has received, rightly rests with the Kingdom of Jordan.

Given the controversy and competition which the discovery of ancient


artefacts always promotes – both academic and commercial – David is
keen to ensure that the find can now be properly and professionally
investigated, in a safe and secure place, with the full support of the
Kingdom of Jordan and with the benefit of access to the world’s leading
experts.

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 this
field.

2. BCE and CE are increasingly used by classical scholars in place of the


more 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 kings
in Jerusalem, and later with the coming of the Messiah.

• There are clear images of the menorah (the seven branched lamp), leafy
branches and etrogim, the large citrus fruits used at Tabernacles.

• There are also fruiting palm trees, well known from coins of the late
second temple period and the time of the Bar Kochba war.

• There are blocks of paleo-Hebrew script, which could be from the


Hasmonean period, 2nd-1st century BCE, but the experts consulted to
date believe these to be in code.

Further information will be released in due course once the security of the
artefacts has been assured.

David Elkington is the author of ‘In the Name of the Gods’, the highly
acclaimed 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 Biblical
studies. He has lectured at universities all over the world and written many
papers on ancient history and linguistics.

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Dr. Margaret Barker is an independent Old Testament scholar, a former
President of the Society for Old Testament Study, co-founder of the
Temple Studies Group and author of 14 books in this field. The
Archbishop of Canterbury created her a Lambeth Doctor of Divinity for her
temple research, which illuminates the origins of Christianity.

Professor Philip Davies is Emeritus Professor of Biblical Studies at the


University of Sheffield, author of numerous books and articles on the Dead
Sea Scrolls and early Judaism. Educated at the Universities of Oxford and
St Andrews. A former President of the Society for Old Testament Study
and a former President of the European Association of Biblical Studies.

For Further Information contact:

Hilary Baker
Mobile: +44 (0) 7971 006600

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