Endorsement of Open Letter on Fake and Unprovenanced Manuscripts

This post has recently been updated with a response from Brill.

The SCS Statement on Professional Ethics emphasizes the need for due diligence regarding the provenance of artifacts in many different areas of scholarly work, including initial publications of objects and texts and the management of institutional collections. In recognition of the importance of this issue, the SCS Board of Directors has voted to endorse an open letter on the publication of fragments that were acquired by the Museum of the Bible and published by Brill. You can read the text of the letter below, which was originally published by Dr. Roberta Mazza on November 5, 2018 and signed by many individuals. You can also read the response from Brill, originally published by Dr. Mazza on November 7.

Open letter to Brill: Fake and unprovenanced manuscripts

For the attention of Brill.

FAKE AND UNPROVENANCED MANUSCRIPTS

On 22 October 2018, the Museum of the Bible issued a press release informing the public that five of their recently acquired fragments that were claimed to come from the Dead Sea Scrolls are modern forgeries. These five forgeries are included in the first volume of the series ‘Publications of Museum of the Bible’ which was published by Brill in 2016.

This volume has received sustained criticism from members of the academic community because it failed to provide information about the acquisition circumstances and collection history of the thirteen fragments it presented. In the introduction, the editor in chief stated only that they were acquired “on behalf of Mister Steven Green in four lots from four private collectors” adding the dates of purchase (November 2009, February 2010, May 2010, October 2014). Questions about the authenticity of all thirteen fragments were raised by many specialists, including one of the co-authors of the volume, and are still waiting to be fully answered.

This is merely the latest in a series of cases in which academics’ concerns about the provenance and authenticity of manuscripts have been ignored, despite the fact that most scholarly associations (e.g. ASOR, SBL, SCS, AIA and ASP) have policies and guidelines on these matters. It is clear that there were sustained serious flaws not only in terms of ethical collecting standards and museum best-practice, as the owners of the fragments have acknowledged, but also in publication good practices. As a group of specialists involved in the study of ancient manuscripts we ask Brill to clarify their position. Why did Brill allow the fragments to be published without proper discussion of their provenance, when one co-author had doubts about their authenticity?

This episode again demonstrates the urgent need for publishers as well as academics to exercise due diligence, through their peer reviewers, in checking that publications of antiquities, including ancient texts, acquired recently on the market give a full and annotated discussion of the acquisition and provenance history. We strongly suggest that Brill and other publishers treat this as seriously as they do copyright, and in their instructions to authors and contracts include a clause requiring the author or authors to be responsible for providing a full and proper explanation of the provenance and legitimacy of such recent acquisitions.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Roberta Mazza (University of Manchester)

Roger Bagnall (ISAW, New York University)

Dominic Rathbone (King’s College London)

Christopher Rollston (George Washington University)

Årstein Justnes (University of Agder)

Paul Schubert (University of Geneva)

Andrea Jördens (University of Heidelberg)

Rodney Ast (University of Heidelberg)

Amin Benaissa (University of Oxford)

Todd Hickey (University of California, Berkeley)

Bernhard Palme (University of Vienna)

Jennifer Knust (Duke University)

Brent Nongbri (Macquarie University)

Malcolm Choat (Macquarie University)

Caroline Schroeder (University of the Pacific)

Philip Alexander (University of Manchester)

Luigi Prada (University of Oxford)

Jennifer Cromwell (Manchester Metropolitan University)

Sofia Torallas Tovar (University of Chicago)

Michael Langlois (University of Strasbourg)

Nikolaos Gonis (University College London)

Graham Claytor (Hunter College, CUNY)

Please see the following link for the most up to date list of scholars who have endorsed the letter:

https://facesandvoices.wordpress.com/2018/11/05/open-letter-to-brill-fake-and-unprovenanced-manuscripts/

Response from Jasmine Lange, Chief Publishing Officer, Brill

In response to your Open Letter, Brill would like to express that we are aware of the ongoing discussion about forged fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls, as announced by the Museum of the Bible in its press release on 22 October 2018.

The forged fragments were included in the first volume of the Publications of Museum of the Bible (Brill 2016). The issue of the authenticity of fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls was recently addressed by Kipp Davis, one of the editors of this volume, in Brill’s academic journal, Dead Sea Discoveries (‘Nine Dubious ‘Dead Sea Scrolls’, fragments from the Twenty-First Century.’, https://doi.org/10.1163/15685179-12341428).

The role of Brill, as with all other academic publishers, is to facilitate the peer review process in order to ensure that publications meet the required academic criteria. In order to safeguard the originality and quality of our publications, each and every work is subject to peer review. In addition, we receive advice from multiple senior scholars in the appropriate field. As a member of Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), we take our responsibility as academic publisher very seriously.

Brill and its editorial boards work in good faith and with integrity to further the advancement of scholarship. Given the highly specialized nature of many of our publications, Brill relies upon the judgment and expert advice of its editorial boards. Provenance has always been and remains a difficult and contentious issue with museum collections around the world, both public and private. We always aim at improving our processes and policies and we welcome you to have a discussion about formulating additional policies related to provenance and associated topics that promote integrity and strengthen the interests of the academic community.



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CFP: Truth and Relativism in Ancient Philosophy
Wednesday 19th June — Friday 21st June 2019
Faculty of Philosophy, University of Groningen

This conference will bring together philosophers interested in examining truth and relativism in ancient Greek and Roman philosophy.
Confirmed speakers include: Paolo Crivelli (Geneva); Matthew Duncombe (Nottingham); Marion Durand (Toronto); Paul Gottlieb (Wisconsin); Orna Harari (Tel Aviv); John MacFarlane (Berkeley); Tamer Nawar (Groningen); and Noburu Notomi (Tokyo).

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Fri, 11/16/2018 - 2:53pm by Erik Shell.

At last year’s SCS annual meeting in Boston, the Program Committee sponsored a panel called “Rhetoric: Then and Now.” Among the speakers constituting that panel was Princeton University Professor Dan-el Padilla Peralta, who, in lamenting the “inadequacy” and “meagerness” of a number of recent efforts in the field to diversify and expand access, delivered the following provocation: “perhaps it is time for this contemporary configuration of Classics to die so that it might be born into a new life.”

In response to Padilla Peralta’s provocation, I cheekily stood up and asked him where Classics ought to die and where it ought to live. (Full disclosure: Padilla Peralta and I are good friends from graduate school.) I asked this question because, living and working in flyover country—in the state of Nebraska—I can say that Classics here (and in the Midwestern states that surround me) is already dying. More often than not, where it lives is through symbiosis with another academic department.

View full article. | Posted in on Thu, 11/15/2018 - 4:27pm by Matthew P. Loar.
Hallway

The Society is delighted to announce this year's winners of the awards for Excellence in the Teaching of Classics at the Precollegiate Level.  We congratulate Susan Meyer and Thomas J. (TJ) Howell, who will both receive their awards at the Plenary Session in San Diego. You can read their citations below:

Thomas J. Howell Citation

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Thu, 11/15/2018 - 9:22am by Helen Cullyer.
Evening Temple of Zeus Columns
At the recommendation of the Committee on Public Information and Media Relations, the Society for Classical Studies awards the 2018 Forum Prize to Ryan Stitt for his non-fiction podcast, The History of Ancient Greece. The Forum Prize recognizes outstanding contributions to public engagement made by non-academic works about the Ancient Greek and Roman World.

Since its inception in 2016, Stitt has built an audience of academic and non-academic listeners and found a productive medium to promote Classical history, culture, languages, and the works of Classical authors and academic scholars. With over two million downloads, The History of Ancient Greece podcast serves as a model for how educational podcasts can engage with public audiences.

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Thu, 11/15/2018 - 9:13am by Helen Cullyer.

Call for Volunteers

The Society for Classical Studies seeks graduate or undergraduate student volunteers for the 150th Annual Meeting in San Diego, California, which will take place this coming January.  Assignments will include working in the registration area and assisting staff with some sessions and special events.

In exchange for six hours of service (down two hours from last year), volunteers receive a waiver of their annual meeting registration fees.  It is not necessary to be an SCS member to volunteer.

You can sign up to be a volunteer here. The deadline to sign up is November 21st.

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(Photo: "_DSC7061" by rhodesj, licensed under CC BY 2.0)

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Mon, 11/12/2018 - 10:49am by Erik Shell.

(Written by Ted Tarkow)

An alum of Dickinson, Brown, and the University of Missouri (MU), Bob Seelinger (1951-2018) taught classics at Westminster College in Fulton, MO, from 1979 until taking early retirement in 2015, necessitated by a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.  By the time of his death, he had served as professor of classics for over 20 years and in addition had served as Dean of the Faculty and Vice President of the College for over a half dozen years at the campus made famous by the “Iron Curtain” speech delivered there   in 1946 by Winston Churchill.

A beloved teacher, Bob taught all levels of both languages as well as a wide range of general education courses.  Not surprisingly to the scores of Westminster students who had studied with him, he received the APA Award for Excellence in the Teaching of the Classics, the Governor’s Award for Teaching, and the Parents’ Association Award for Teaching, among many other recognitions.    But his career also allowed presentations and publications in some of his favorite authors, from Apuleius (the focus of his PhD dissertation), to 4th century, Republican, and early Imperial authors and genres.  His abundant time at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, as well as at two NEH Summer Seminars, enabled other students and scholars to make the most of their time there.

View full article. | Posted in In Memoriam on Mon, 11/12/2018 - 8:59am by Erik Shell.
150th Logo

Join us for the official start of our Sesquicentennial!

Transforming Classics: 150 Years of Classical Studies in New York

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Fri, 11/09/2018 - 11:38am by Helen Cullyer.

As one of the cornerstones upon which Classical scholarship has been built, much has already been said about Marcus Tullius Cicero. He has a sizable extant corpus that contains different genres, which in turn vary in style and topic. Furthermore, Cicero was a prominent political figure when the Roman Republic was falling and the Caesars were rising. Because of the nature of his corpus and the man himself, Cicero is an attractive topic of research not only for the traditional scholar but for a digital humanist as well. His large and varied corpus is promising for distant reading techniques, which allow us to examine and explore all of his works, thereby all of Cicero, easily and quickly. Through those digital techniques, we can gain a more complete view of who this ancient Roman man was.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 11/09/2018 - 7:50am by .
150th Logo

The early registration deadline for the 2019 AIA-SCS Annual Meeting in San Diego is Friday November 9. Register on or before that date in order to benefit from the early rate. You can register here.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Tue, 11/06/2018 - 6:20pm by Helen Cullyer.

This post has recently been updated with a response from Brill.

The SCS Statement on Professional Ethics emphasizes the need for due diligence regarding the provenance of artifacts in many different areas of scholarly work, including initial publications of objects and texts and the management of institutional collections. In recognition of the importance of this issue, the SCS Board of Directors has voted to endorse an open letter on the publication of fragments that were acquired by the Museum of the Bible and published by Brill. You can read the text of the letter below, which was originally published by Dr. Roberta Mazza on November 5, 2018 and signed by many individuals. You can also read the response from Brill, originally published by Dr. Mazza on November 7.

Open letter to Brill: Fake and unprovenanced manuscripts

For the attention of Brill.

FAKE AND UNPROVENANCED MANUSCRIPTS

On 22 October 2018, the Museum of the Bible issued a press release informing the public that five of their recently acquired fragments that were claimed to come from the Dead Sea Scrolls are modern forgeries. These five forgeries are included in the first volume of the series ‘Publications of Museum of the Bible’ which was published by Brill in 2016.

View full article. | Posted in Public Statements on Tue, 11/06/2018 - 5:37pm by Helen Cullyer.

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