Artemidorus papyrus - graphite with ink - example of chemical testing

Steven Avery

The so-called Artemidorus papyrus.
A reconsideration
di Luciano Canfora

There is another objective fact, which it requires little mental effort to comprehend: the presence of graphite in the ink in which the text on the recto was written. The traces of graphite were brought to light by the Chemistry for Technologies Laboratory at the University of Brescia (par. 2.1. microdiffraction analysis): «As far as analysis of the pigment is concerned, a peak value of d = 3.33, attributable to carbon in the graphite phase, was observed». Since graphite was not discovered until the end of the Medieval Period, the theory that the text might date from ancient times can be definitively ruled out. All those sophist explanations for this – along the lines that although the graphite is there, it is as if it were not – are nothing but the kind of second-rate self-serving arguments that are not even worthy of mention here.

A legitimate question would be: so why graphite? An expert forger such as the author of the pseudo-Artemidorus text would have been more than capable of reproducing the ink used by the ancients; the ingredients are well-known (Vitruvius, VII 10; Pliny, XXXV 41; Dioscorides, De materia medica, V 162). Just how expert Simonides was in this field is clear not only from what he himself tells us but also from the testimony of one of his rivals, Andreas David Mordtmann (Allgemeine Zeitung, Augsburg, 28 November 1853, col. 5307).[6] Such a lapse by a forger of this calibre is not therefore plausible. It is most probable that the traces of graphite are due to the customary procedure of first copying the text onto the papyrus with a pencil and then going over it with the carefully prepared “vintage” ink. That is why the extremely sophisticated testing we are able to employ today revealed the “graphite peak”.
I would like to see if the defenders of Artemidorus authenticity have a sensible counter.

See a chapter by Claudio Gallazzi and Bärbel Kramer.
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