Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences

, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 337–343 | Cite as

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

  • Khaled Al-Bashaireh
  • AbdelRahman ElSerogy
  • Emad Hussein
  • Muhamad Shakhatreh
Original Paper


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.


Confiscated manuscript Deterioration features Archaeometric analyses Radiocarbon dating Jordan 


  1. APHA (1992) Standard methods for the examination of water and wastewater, 18th edn. American Public Health Association, Washington DCGoogle Scholar
  2. Berg HC (ed) (2004) E. coli in motion. Springer Science and Business Media, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  3. Berger R, Evans N, Abell JM, Resnik MA (1972) Radiocarbon dating of parchment. Nat 235(5334):160–161CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brock F (2013) Radiocarbon dating of historical parchments. Radiocarb 55(2–3):353–363CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bunker EC (1994) A new dilemma: recent technical studies and related forgeries. Orientat 25(3):90Google Scholar
  6. Burgaud C, Rouchon V, Refait P, Wattiaux A (2008) Mössbauer spectrometry applied to the study of laboratory samples made of iron gall ink. Appl Phys A Mater Sci Process 92(1):257–262CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Burgio L, Clark RJ, Hark RR (2010) Raman microscopy and x-ray fluorescence analysis of pigments on medieval and renaissance Italian manuscript cuttings. Proc Natl Acad Sci 107(13):5726–5731CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chachaty E, Saulnier P (2000) Isolation chromosomal DNA from bacteria from the nucleic acid protocol. Humana press, New Jersey, pp. 29–32Google Scholar
  9. Craddock P (ed) (2009) Scientific investigation of copies, fakes and forgeries. Butterworth Heineman, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  10. Daane LL, Harjono I, Zylastra GJ, Haggblom MM (2001) Isolation and characterization of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) degrading bacteria associated with rhizosphere of salt marsh plants. Appl Environ Microbiol 67:2683–2692CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dolgin B, Bulatov V, Schechter I (2007) Non-destructive assessment of parchment deterioration by optical methods. Analyt Bioanalyt Chem 388(8):1885–1896CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Donahue DJ, Jull AJT, Toolin LJ (1990) Radiocarbon measurements at the university of Arizona AMS facility. Nucl Instrum Methods Phys Res Sect B: Beam Interact Mater At 52(3):224–228CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Duval A, Hélène G (2004) Study of Gustave Moreau’s black drawings. Identification of the graphic materials by Raman microspectrometry and PIXE. J Raman Spectrosc 35(8–9):628–632Google Scholar
  14. Hahn O (2010) Analyses of iron gall and carbon inks by means of X-ray fluorescence analysis: a non-destructive approach in the field of archaeometry and conservation science. Restaur 31(1):41–64Google Scholar
  15. Hahn OW, Malzer B, Kanngiesser B (2004) Characterization of iron-gall inks in historical manuscripts and music compositions using x-ray fluorescence spectrometry. X-Ray Spectrom 33(4):234–239CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Holtorf C, Schadla-Hall T (1999) Age as artefact: on archaeological authenticity. Eur J Archaeol 2(2):229–247CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Humphreys E (2002) How to spot a fake. Materials today (November): 32–37.Google Scholar
  18. Jull AJT, Burr GS, Beck JW, Donahue DJ, Biddulph D, Hatheway AL, Lange TE, McHargue LR (2002) Accelerator mass spectrometry at Arizona: geochronology of the climatic record and connections with the ocean. Sci World J 2:1579–1593CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kolar J, Andrej Š, Matija S, Matevž P, Boris P, Miloš B, Jure S, Birgit R (2006) Historical iron gall ink containing documents properties affecting their condition. Anal Chim Acta 555(1):167–174CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Luke C, Kersel MA (2005) A retrospective and a look forward: the antiquities market section. J Fld Archaeol 30(2):191–200Google Scholar
  21. Marengo E, Manfredi M, Zerbinati O, Robotti E, Mazzucco E, Gosetti F, Bearman G, France F, Shor P (2011) Development of a technique based on multi-spectral imaging for monitoring the conservation of cultural heritage objects. Anal Chim Acta 706(2):229–237CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Parodi EL (2015) Conservation and preservation. In: Bausi A, Borbone PG, Briquel-Chatonnet F, Buzi P, Gippert J; Macé C, Maniaci M, Melissakis Z, Parodi L, Witakowski W, Sokolinski E (eds) Comparative oriental manuscript studies: an introduction. Tredition, Hamburg, pp 539–582.Google Scholar
  23. Purohit H, Raje D, Kapley A (2003) Identification of signature and primers specific to genus pseudomonas using mismatched patterns of 16S rDNA sequences. BioMed Cent 4(19):15–34Google Scholar
  24. Reed R (1972) Ancient skins, parchments and leathers. Seminar Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  25. Reimer PJ, Brown TA, Reimer RW (2004) Discussion, reporting and calibration of postbomb 14C data. Radiocarb 46:1299–1304CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Sharma N, Agarwal A, Negi YS, Bhardwaj H, Jaiswal J (2014) History and chemistry of ink- a review. World J Pharm Res 3(4):2096–2105Google Scholar
  27. Smith G (2009) The chemistry of historically important black inks, paints and dyes. Chem Educ N. Z. (May): 12–15.Google Scholar
  28. Thompson DV (1956) The materials and techniques of medieval painting. Dover, New York, pp. 83–225Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Khaled Al-Bashaireh
    • 1
  • AbdelRahman ElSerogy
    • 2
  • Emad Hussein
    • 3
  • Muhamad Shakhatreh
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of ArchaeologyYarmouk UniversityIrbidJordan
  2. 2.Department of Conservation and Management of Cultural HeritageYarmouk UniversityIrbidJordan
  3. 3.Biology DepartmentYarmouk UniversityIrbidJordan
  4. 4.Department of Medical Laboratory SciencesJordan University of Science and TechnologyIrbidJordan

Personalised recommendations