Artemidorus papyrus

Steven Avery

Luciano Canfora pegs Simonides as the author. Others disagree. In his analysis he includes tidbits and items that can help with the Simonides picture.

WIP - can add my commentary on the highlights and resources. Note Saint Petersburg emphasized.


Museum Helveticum 70 (2013) 157-179
The so-called Artemidorus papyrus : a reconsideration
Luciano Canfora

Good Resources: Bericht by Condello (four resources, Italian etc)

rumour that Artemidorus papyrus had beeen stolen. Given in Condello


Facts, at this point, inevitably lead to the following conclusions:
a) the so-called Artemidorus papyrus is a modern fake manufactured from ancient materials;
b) the author of this fake is the Greek scholar Constantine Simonides (ca. 1820-1890).

“..remarkable habit of the scribe of writing and drawing around already existing gaps on the papyrus” p. 158

“the presence of graphite in the ink of the recto side… graphite was not discovered until the end of the Middle Ages, the claim that the text might date from ancient times can be ipso facto ruled out”

Otherwise, a legitimate question would sound: why graphite? An expert forger such as pseudo-Artemidorus surely was would have been more than able to reproduce the ink used by the ancients. The ingredients were all well-known, see Vitruvius.Vll 10. Pliny, XXXV 41. Dioscorides. De materia medica.V 162. Just how expert Simonides was in this field is apparent not only from what he himself tells us. but also from the expressed testimony of his archrival, Andreas David Mordtmann (7-Allgemaine Zeitung 1853 ref) - Such a lapse by a forger of Simonides’ calibre is not plausible. How much more probable that the traces of graphite be due to the elementary procedure of first copying the text onto the papyrus with a pencil and then going over it with a carefully prepared "vintage" ink. That is why nowadays sophisticated testing has been succeeded (sic) in revealing the "graphite peak". P. 159

“stamping effect” of the writing on the recto which spills over – upside down – onto the verso” p. 159

Simonides, himself an expert in lithography, did in fact use lithographic procedures to make facsimiles of his more sophisticated papyri in order to have suitable illustrations of his work to show around: this approach he adopted for example with the Periplus of Hanno, with the fragments of Matthew's Gospel, and with a number of his other creations, including epigraphs. He tells us of this procedure in notes which survive (BL MS Addit. 42502A f. 128). while his lithographic equipment is today preserved in the World Museum of Liverpool. The accident probably occurred while he was preparing the plates. In short, far from supporting the authenticity theory, the extensive "mirror writing" is strong evidence of the recent origin of the so-called Artemidorus papyrus. P. 159

3. Why the forger can only be Constantine Simonides

The most obvious reason is that whole sentences and drawings known to belong to Simonides are to be found also in the papyrus"10.The suggestion that Simonides was involved has been frequently greeted with disdain by people who knew nothing about him and had not even heard of his works. Now a few instances may suffice to substantiate the point: … p. 160

What we are dealing with is a text that Simonides not only altered line by line in order 10 make it appear older than it was, but of which he also made copies in his own hand, and that he cited as crucial proof of the continuity between Hellenistic and Byzantine painting (Facsimiles of Certain Portions of the Gospel of St. Matthew, ed. Simonides (London 1S62) 32). In other words, it is a text that is very much his, and the echoes of its opening part in pseudo-Artemidorus are unmistakable. p. 161-162

4.The non-existent Artemidorus’ auto-epitome caused the forger to fail p. 162

Let us not forget that Simonides suffered from a kind of obsession with epitomes. In fact he conceived quite a lot of forgeries of epitomes by Greek historians and geographers, and offered an impressive number of important lost authors (which he claimed to possess) to the Science Academy of Saint Petersburg at the beginning of January 1851. … P. 164

… The document pertaining to this whole affair are now in C. Simonides, Opere greche, I, ..(Ban 2012). P. 164

Simonides … Athanasios Zosimas provided funding in 1853 .. To the "immortal brothers" Zosimadai, Simonides would subsequently dedicate his rather eccentric work Horus of Nilopolis (1863). … (Simonides had sought to demonstrate, when he had succeeded in obtaining an introduction to the Science Academy in St. Petersburg, that he was indirectly related to Ypsilanti himself). p. 165

(It is no coincidence at all that the pigments of the verso have never been chemically analysed). P. 168

No one who is acquainted with Simonides’ work with papyri will be surprised to see that the handwriting in the Panegyric of Geography and the Epitome of Spain appears to be the same. His papyri in fact, as Livia Capponi had accurately pointed out in her essay Visita ai papiri di Simonides, "although presented as texts by different authors from different periods, are characterised by similar writing. In other words, papyri supposed to come from utterly different ages and genres and of completely different provenance are often written in precisely the same hand". Dr. Capponi goes on to specify: "Simonides uses no more than four palaeographic styles which resemble each other and are sometimes even found alongside each other in the same text"32.

L. Capponi examined the collection of Simonides' papyri at the Liverpool Museum on 9 November 2007. She wrote an excellent account of what she saw and this, along with a considerable quantity of accompanying photographic evidence, can he found in her above-mentioned essay, which is appended to L. Canfora,, Il papiro di Artemidoro (Roma/Bari 2008) 457—461. P. 168

9. Simonides the "geographer" ‘s professional instruments

In 1853 Simonides, having failed in his attempt to establish the core of his business first in Saint Petersburg and then in Constantinople, arrived in England after a long journey around the Mediterranean, of which not all the details are clear to us 39. In London he attempted (otherwise with some success) to peddle his merchandise to the British Museum, where at the time the manuscripts department was sternly presided over bv Frederick Madden. … p. 171

39 The information provided in the pseudo-Callincus (cf Il papiro di Artemidoro, cit., 290-291) may not be entirely accurate.

.. especially precious geographical manuscript consisting of about thirty folios of Manuscript 655 from the Vatopedi Monastery on Mount Athos. which Simonides had fraudulently removed: after being purchased by the British Museum, this "booty" was classified as “Additional 19391”.We have already analysed elsewhere the content of these folios. 40 P. 171

40 Il papiro di Artemidoro cit., 449-456

Also has reference to Charles Stewart Biographical Memoir of Constantine Simonide in relation to a map. p. 171-172

10. Is anyone on Simonides's side?

Of course, it is possible to cling to the belief that Simonides' creations were genuine, and there are people who have done so. Some scholars of African studies, for example, accepted the authenticity of the papyrus of the Periplus of Hanno, with all its alterations and final additions. P. 172

In 1923 the Italian scholar Maria Monachesi published The Shepherd of Hermas (Rome. Libreria di Cultura) with an Italian translation and notes. On pp. 4-5 of the introduction she provided the reader with the following information: "The original text, in Greek, came down to us via two handwritten codices, one from the Monastery of St. Gregory on Mount Athos. the other from the Monastery of St. Catherine at Mount Sinai. The former (now at Leipzig), which was discovered by Constantine Simonides in 1856, contains almost the whole work (except for the last part) on its 9 folios, and dates back only to the beginning of the 15th or the end of the 14th century […] but until 1856 The Shepherd was known only in the Latin - or so-called Vulgate - version (of which there are many manuscripts)". It was in vain that C.Tischendorf produced evidence that Simonides himself, who had turned up in Leipzig in 1855 42 had created those pages very well imitating a medieval Greek script for his translation back into Greek of the Latin version of The Shepherd. And it was on that occasion that Simonides started to see Tischendorf as a rival: a prelude to his later making the infuriating claim that he himself, the unrelenting forger, was the author of the Codex Sinaiticus of the Bible, a "revelation" that nearly led to the cool Tischendorf losing, if not quite his mind, his usual self-restraint.

42 After an extremely long journey with stops in Athens, Constantinople, St. Petersburg, London, Paris, and Leipzig in order to try lo sell his "unpublished" works. p. 173

Even as recently as 1990 the theologian and papyrologist Carsten Thiede (Jesus: Life or Legend? (Oxford)) embarked with the fervour of an apologist on a defence of Simonides' Matthew papyrus. Only an admittedly justifiable prejudice against Simonides - wrote Thiede - might lead to the conclusion that the Matthew papyrus is also a fake…. Thiede …concentrates on championing the authenticity of the Matthew papyrus (the unmasking of which caused a major scandal) because he was keen to point to an early - or rather, very early - evidence of the Gospel; and, according to its long, implausible subscriptio, the papyrus Simonides had produced provided just such evidence... P. 173

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Steven Avery

non-Simonides explanations of Artemidorus

On the Artemidorus Papyrus (2009)
Giambattista D'Alessio

On the other hand. Luciano Canfora, with the assistance of (and in convergence with) several other scholars and collaborators has argued that the whole roll is the work of the famous 19th-century forger Constantine Simonides. This remarkable swindler was born, perhaps, in 1820, and acquired fame as a forger of ancient manuscripts, which he managed to sell to important European institutions around the middle of the century. The news of his death in a plague outbreak in Alexandria was circulated in 1867 (the Times of London 19th October), but there is evidence that he was still active at the end of the decade, and perhaps still at the beginning of the 1870s. After a period of complete lack of news of his activities tor almost two decades, the next tiding is provided by an obituary published, again, in the Times of London reporting, again, his death, this time in a small village in Albania, on the 18th October 1890. Canfora and his collaborators have done a remarkable job exploring the difficulties and the intricacies of this papyrus and have pointed out many important problems and peculiarities. Their general thesis, however, hardly carries any conviction for a series of reasons.

1) The physical condition of the papyrus, its date, and the composition of its inks are perfectly compatible with those of a genuinely ancient artefact. The handwriting looks to me. and to scholars as experienced as P. J. Parsons, "entirely typical of the period", and certainly far more competent than the specimina of Simonidean papyri that have been published so far.'' In order to achieve these results a forger would have needed a competence far exceeding that of Simonides. and a considerable amount of time at his disposal.

2) The text shows linguistic features and presupposes a knowledge of Realien that were not available during Simonides' lifetime, and. in one case at least arguably not before the 1890s.

It is my contention that both Settis and Canfora's positions are mistaken, and that the text of this extraordinary roll is neither a copy of Book 2 of Artemidorus' Geography nor the work of a 19th-century forger, but a miscellaneous compilation of the early Imperial period that includes an extract of Artemidorus' work (perhaps adapted and abridged), followed (not preceded) by a general praise of the science of Geography. p. 29-30

In conclusion, the identification of this papyrus as a forgery by Constantine Simonides involves a great deal of altogether fantastic ad hoc hypothetical constructions that, far from providing a more economical explanation of the evidence, force their advocates into more and more implausible fictions. It can certainly be ruled out as extremely implausible. ... p. 33