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Author Topic: Need info on (general) chronological dating methods (and accuracy) of manuscript  (Read 344 times)

KyriakosCH

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Hm, I have the following questions:

-How accurate is the dating of the actual material? (eg some scroll)
-How would it be possible to have considerably less (or none at all; at least by technological means alone) accurate/valid dating of such a scroll's content? I had the idea of having the text not be penned/inked on the scroll, but carved on it (eg using some letter-blocks which remove part of the scroll to carve the letter, but if possible -better this way for me...- just by using a sharp object like a dagger. Would this work at all to make the text (carved) not possible to date? Or is it just circular and the gap would be dated (in this case, how can I do it so as to avoid this?)

(obviously this is for some short story :) )



To give an idea of the times: If, say, it would be possible to date (just with tech means, not linguistic - that isn't of interest atm) a manuscript (material) to the 8th-9th century AD, could the trick with carving work so as to make the content not be easy to date using the same methods?
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You can probably read up on carbon dating yourself if you want the details, but it wouldn't be a stretch to to date a scroll within a century. This depends on a lot of factors, and you can have error margins going a couple of hundred years either way, or it could turn out more precise.

Mind you, one measures the amount of a carbon isotope in organic material. If you don't want the scroll to be possible to date in your story, have them carve into metal. It doesn't really date the writing on the scroll. You would have to examine the ink somehow to do that.

I would guess really dating a scroll's content would rely heavily on linguistic and historical comparisons as well.

KyriakosCH

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This is awesome if specific enough! :)
It's exactly what I want: to have the parchment itself be 1000+ years old (eg from the 8th to the 10th century), but the ink/other of the actual text not be conclusively dated. Cause in the story the text is treated as a very possible hoax, but if the parchment was new then it would be no issue, and if the text could be dated conclusively by technological means it'd also remove the "hoax" claim.
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Snarky

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That's pretty realistic. Many forgeries of ancient documents have been written on ancient parchment, paper or even leather. (One source of both genuine fragments and material for forgeries is mummy masks, produced from papier maché of used papyrus.) Google "hobby lobby bible hoax" for a number of interesting articles on two separate scandals linked to the "Museum of the Bible" set up by the family behind Hobby Lobby:

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2020/jan/09/a-scandal-in-oxford-the-curious-case-of-the-stolen-gospel
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/all-museum-bibles-dead-sea-scrolls-are-fake-report-finds-180974425/

See also the "Gospel of Jesus' Wife":

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/07/the-unbelievable-tale-of-jesus-wife/485573/

Linguistic evidence and analysis of handwriting styles, along with a consideration of the provenance, tend to be the first (and often only) step in dating a document, beyond internal evidence within the text itself. But in tricky cases, microscopic and chemical analysis can play a role:

Quote
Several key pieces of evidence pointed investigators toward their conclusion. Genuine Dead Sea Scrolls, for instance, are made from tanned or lightly tanned parchment; the museum’s pieces were written on leather—possibly sourced from ancient shoes or sandals.

“After 2,000 years, leather and parchment look very similar,” Colette Loll, founder of Art Fraud Insights and leader of the investigative team, tells artnet News. “Until you do a high magnification analysis, as well as a chemical and elemental analysis, you really can’t tell the difference.”

The fragments had the waxy sheen of true Dead Sea Scrolls—a feature that stems from the breakdown of collagen in ancient parchment. But testing revealed that the shine visible among the museum’s holdings wasn’t the result of natural decay; instead, the fragments appear to have been soaked in an amber-colored substance, possibly animal-skin glue. What’s more, close examination showed that ink had pooled in the cracks of the leather, suggesting the material was not new when the inscriptions were painted.

In the case of the "Jesus' Wife" fragment, it passed extensive carbon-date and chemical testing, but seemed dodgy from linguistic and other evidence. For example, a misspelling matched a typo in an online version of the Gospel of Thomas. But it was really an investigation of the provenance (where it came from) that showed it to almost certainly be a forgery.

KyriakosCH

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Awesome!
Yes, that is exactly the angle I am going for :)

I was told of another document, the Vinland Map, where there had been some debate about ink dating - but apparently that couldn't be decisive. I have to check if the ink/similar used for supposed 8-9-10th century arabic would allow for such an issue. (this is all in the very periphery of the story; the point is that while the parchment seems to be 1100 years old or thereabouts, what is written on it cannot be taken as a text of the period, unless something very ominous is going on).

Btw, the text in the document in my story is an actual text (not maps). It's just that it presents a very strange game in a maze, and has ties (as to its meaning; obviously doesn't reference those) to some early 20th century math too.
« Last Edit: 02 Jan 2021, 21:24 by KyriakosCH »
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Btw, the text in the document in my story is an actual text (not maps). It's just that it presents a very strange game in a maze, and has ties (as to its meaning; obviously doesn't reference those) to some early 20th century math too.

It's common knowledge that Pac-Man is an echo of an ancient Sumeric tale of the Great Gobbler in the Labyrinth of Knossos, forever hunted by the Ghosts of dissimilar colours.  (laugh)

Handwritings have been copied a lot, and we rarely have the originals preserved. That makes it hard to date when a manuscript is from without using text analysis. The scroll itself just gives a limit to how old the copy could possibly be.