So I've gone over each clear picture of the Lead Codices I've been able to get my hands on, and I've compiled a table of every readable glyph with more to follow.
- Only 8 characters are shared amongst all plates thusfar. This is rather odd, given the number of characters on each plate.
- Assuming it's Aramaic, it seems to be a mix of Old Aramaic, Palmyrene, and Nabatean forms, not a single known and well-established script. There may even be a bit of Samaritan influence. Where some mixture of scripts has occurred in ancient documents under rarefied circumstances (such as with the tetragrammaton amongst some of the Dead Sea Scrolls), this mix is unprecedented. Also if we were to ponder about an "Old Palmyrene" or "Old Nabatean" we'd more expect to see "Imperial" forms mixed in, not Old Aramaic forms. To me, this seems like someone was trying to make this look older but blundered the script (like others have done recently...).
- There are a number of features in the stroke order that indicates that these were not written by a professional scribe (see the examples with numbers for each stroke). Scribes were taught very carefully what order to write characters in along with their shape, and it is this consistency that we are able to apply some of the principles of epigraphy to date inscriptions in the ancient world. This is a "stroke" against its authenticity that needs to be weighted with everything else.
- The "Christ Head" and "Palm" plates were made by the same person / at the same time, and seem to have repetitive gibberish as the letter variety is very slim and the distribution of letters doesn't look like a natural Semitic language. Specifically on the "Palm" plate, the well-defined "words" aren't known words in any Aramaic dialects I am familiar. These are *big* strokes against their authenticity.
- The "Menorah" and "Crusty Menorah" plates were made by the same person / at the same time. There are a few funky things with the distribution, but there are more "letters" than the previous pair. Several letters on the prior pair appear to be "flipped" in comparison. I would not be particularly surprised if we find these were copied from somewhere, albeit badly (badly enough that I still cannot make anything sensible out).
- This is certainly not the script used on the Madaba bilingual inscription where the Greek was lifted from. That script was distinctly Nabatean. However, looking at the "Aramaic" script on the Greek plates (look at the top of the image) we find it matches the above script neatly (a *HUGE* stroke against their authenticity, as the Greek plate was proven to be a forgery). I've tried a number of times to align the text on the plates to the Madaba inscription in hopes to use it as a "Rosetta Stone" to decipher the rest of the script (i.e. match up known Nabatean characters to this script's odd variations) but so far to no avail.
Again, to reiterate: On a scale of 1 to 5 where 1 is fake and 5 is genuine, all signs point to 1.
UPDATE APR 11: I've cleaned up this post a bit and expanded the bullet points.
Labels: epigraphy, Lead Codices