The pages are not much bigger than a credit card, and on them are images, symbols and words that appear to refer to the Messiah and, possibly even, to the Crucifixion and Resurrection. Adding to the intrigue, many of the books are sealed, prompting academics to speculate they are actually the lost collection of codices mentioned in the Bible’s Book of Revelation.
The World is full of incredible ancient mysteries that history books just won’t teach you, and it’s rather sad to me how few people are aware of some of the incredible discoveries and unknown history of this world. Today’s X-files story, is certainly remarkable by all accounts, and worthy of a Raiders of the Lost Ark film.
Last weekend archeologists announced the biggest religious find since the Dead Sea Scrolls. The news of the discovery of seventy ancient metal books, that actually occurred five years ago, but was only announced last weekend, is said to have the possibilities of unlocking some of the secrets of the earliest days of Christianity. More precisely, the discoveries were supposedly made between 2005 and 2007, when a flash flood exposed two nooks inside the cave, containing the booklets, metal plates and scrolls.
The tiny books, their lead pages bound with wire, have left academics divided over their authenticity, but they say that if they are verified, they could prove as pivotal as the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947.
The books, which were discovered five years ago in a cave in a remote part of Jordan to which Christian refugees, are known to have fled after the fall of Jerusalem in 70AD. Important documents from the same period have previously been found there, and initial metallurgical tests indicate that some of the books could date from the first century AD.
This estimate is based on the form of corrosion, which has taken place, which experts believe would be impossible to achieve artificially. If the dating were verified, the books would be among the earliest Christian documents, predating the writings of St Paul.
They are investigating whether the picture, which can still just about be seen to depict a man wearing a crown of thorns, was created in Jesus’ lifetime by those who knew him. The portrait was found on one of the lead booklets, slightly smaller than a credit card.
Historians believe the collection was made by followers of Jesus in the few decades immediately after his crucifixion. The most convincing evidence that the books are Christian is that one plate appears to show a map of the holy city of Jerusalem featuring crosses outside the city walls. And one phrase in the booklets appears to read Saviour of Israel in ancient Hebrew.
The director of Jordan’s Department of Antiquities, Ziad al-Saad, believes the booklets were made by Jesus’ followers shortly after his death. He says that they will really match, and perhaps be more significant than the Dead Sea Scrolls.
The initial information is very encouraging and it seems that we are looking at a very important and significant discovery – maybe the most important discovery in the history of archaeology.
The booklets are currently in the hands of a Bedouin trucker called Hassan Saida who lives in the Arab village of Shibli-Umm Al-Ghanam in Israel. He has refused to sell them but two samples were sent to England and Switzerland for testing. Mr Saida claims the books, containing cryptic messages in Hebrew and Ancient Greek, have been in his family since they were found by his great-grandfather. He denies smuggling them out of Jordan. But there are claims that his Bedouin business partner bought the books from a villager in Jordan five years ago.
The business partner is said to have taken the books over the border to Israel, where Mr Saida believed they had magical properties and that it was his fate to collect as many as he could. The Jordanian government said it would exert all efforts at every level’ to return the artefacts to Jordan.
David Elkington, 49, a scholar of ancient religious archaeology who is leading a British team trying to get the books to a Jordanian museum, and his wife Jennifer, have said they could be a major discovery of Christian history.
A tirade of vicious death threats, they claimed, had left them fearful for their safety and they retreated to a remote rent farmhouse in Gloucestershire where. According to the Elkingtons they have been involved in a cloak and dagger escapade to safeguard the priceless religious artefacts from the clutches of unscrupulous foreign mavericks intent upon making millions in the Middle East’s shadowy black market in antiquities.
The Elkingtons’ role as saviours of the lost symbols is certainly dramatic – if, indeed, all is as it seems. But it does throw up as many questions as it does answers about the treasure trove that has electrified academics, many of whom predict the cache, many of which is written in code, if authenticated, could eclipse the importance of the Dead Sea Scrolls – the religious texts which include the earliest known copy of the Ten Commandments which were found in 1947. And perhaps about the Elkingtons themselves.
How the couple became involved is an intriguing tale. The codices, which could profoundly change the perception of what happened in the years between the death of Jesus and the emergence of the letters of St Paul once they are translated and decoded, The cache is believed to have surfaced when a menorah – a Jewish candlestick – was exposed in a flash flood. Quite how they fell into the hands of Mr Hassan Saeda, an illiterate Israeli Bedouin, remains a mystery, although the fact that he has previous convictions for fraud and smuggling suggests they were not entirely above board.
The Elkingtons are vague about how they became aware of the treasure trove three years ago, insisting a ”friend” emailed images of them.
Great mysteries abound, and human history is far different than what’s being taught by history books such as the bible, but some people for reasons of politics, academics, and arrogance, do not want to have an inkling of some of the more amazing implications discoveries such as these can have. I choose to be Christian, and therefore I do not fear losing faith in what I believe in because of some books… but I would like the books decoded because they are historical documents of Christianity.