The Forger and the Chemist: Constantine Simonides, Henry Deane, and the (de)authentication of Forged Manuscripts

This paper positions forgery as a catalyst for disciplinary innovation, using debates over forged antiquities to gain insight into the interaction of different modes of academic expertise, and how the public perceives them. Debates over forged antiquities, and the methods used to detect them, reveal important questions about the historical and contemporary dialogue between the Sciences and Humanities. This paper examines the deauthentication of the papyrus manuscripts forged by Constantine Simonides in the mid-nineteenth century by way of studying the relationship between traditional and emerging modes of expertise in assessing forged papyri. By positioning the innovation in the scientific study of manuscripts of microscopist and chemist Henry Deane against the opinions informed by traditional humanities expertise (e.g. philology, palaeography), and comparing this to recent discussions of allegedly forged papyrus manuscripts, I will illuminate the developing relationship between academic disciplines, the reception of these debates by publics, and their evaluation of various types of academic expertise.


Associate Professor Malcolm Choat is the Director of the Macquarie University Ancient Cultures Research Centre. He studied Classics and Ancient History at the University of Queensland (1989-1993), before undertaking a PhD at Macquarie (1994-2000). Subsequently, he taught and researched in the School of Studies in Religion at the University of Sydney (2000-2002), before holding a Macquarie University Research Fellowship (2003-2006).

His fields of research are Coptic and Greek papyrology, and Christianity and monasticism in Late Antique Egypt.

Date & time

Tue 27 Feb 2018, 4.30–5.45pm


Theatrette, Sir Roland Wilson Building


Associate Professor Malcolm Choat (Macquarie University)

Event series


Penny Brew
+61 2 6125 4357


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