Alan Isaac Rare Books

Blue Notes

This is a space for topical book-related content, whether from within or outside the Bindery/Bookshop, to which all are invited to contribute or to initiate a discussion in a temperate and positive spirit. Do join in!

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Lewis of Carleon – The Roots of Science in Wales. A Manuscript for the Nation?

The UK government has accepted the advice of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art (RCEWA) and opened a window of opportunity to secure for the nation, and particularly for Wales, a manuscript of the 15th century scholar, Lewis of Carleon.

Lewis studied medicine at Cambridge University in the mid 1460’s. He went on to become a ‘servant’ of Henry Tudor (Henry VII) probably in a medical capacity and he received several lifelong grants from him for his service. The manuscript, which was valued at £300,000 concerns his studies in the realm of science,  in particular, what the RCEWA have called ‘ the progression from ancient theories of astronomy toward a modern, mathematical approach’.  The actions of the RCEWA indicate that it accepted that Lewis was  ‘a significant contributor to the study of astronomy and the development of science in the late medieval era’.  Further, the manuscript appears to be in the original ‘handsome presentation’ binding, quite likely for Henry VII.

The current economic climate is one in which fund raising of any kind will be a particular challenge, but this is a worthy cause, and one which deserves success.  If the target is reached, surely the book should reside in the National Library of Wales?

Posted by on March 21st, 2020 | Comments Off on Lewis of Carleon – The Roots of Science in Wales. A Manuscript for the Nation?
Posted in Manuscripts

Dead Sea Scrolls or dead loss?

Fragments of manuscript, believed to have been part of the dramatic discoveries made in the caves of Qumran on the West Bank of the River Jordan in 1947, and among the earliest known examples of Christian scripture, are now thought definitively to be fakes.

A lengthy and detailed analysis, using 3D microscopes, infrared spectroscopy and ‘energy dispersive X-ray analysis’ has reached the conclusion, that each of the 16 items examined exhibit ‘characteristics that suggest they are deliberate forgeries’, damning news for the owners at  the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C.

Fragments of manuscript, believed to have been part of the dramatic discoveries made in the caves of Qumran on the West Bank of the River Jordan in 1947, and among the earliest known examples of Christian scripture, are now thought definitively to be fakes.

A lengthy and detailed analysis, using 3D microscopes, infrared spectroscopy and ‘energy dispersive X-ray analysis’ has reached the conclusion, that each of the 16 items examined exhibit ‘characteristics that suggest they are deliberate forgeries’, damning news for the owners at  the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C.

The fragments, previously undocumented from the finds at Qumran, acquired by the Museum from four private sources prior to 2016 for an undisclosed price, and the majority of which were published for scholars, immediately aroused suspicion. The Museum is likely to have paid many millions of pounds for the group of fragments which, according to the investigators, Art Fraud Insights, were likely to have been made from old shoe leather and to have been aged with a ‘shiny amber material … most likely animal skin glue’.  This does not make them sound overly sophisticated, but the most remarkable detail of the recent report is that, ‘at the time of publication (of the fragments in 2016) no scientific examination of the Museum’s scroll fragments had been carried out’

So the romantic tale of the Hebrew manuscripts, called the Dead Sea scrolls, the earliest dating from the 3rd century BCE, having been found in the caves of Qumran by the shepherd searching for his lost sheep has ended in both tears and embarrassment for the American Museum whose reputation appears, like the scrolls themselves, to be in shreds.

 

Posted by on March 17th, 2020 | Comments Off on Dead Sea Scrolls or dead loss?
Posted in Manuscripts, Uncategorized