The Sinaia Lead Plates, Famous Fakes and Frauds

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The Sinaia Lead Plates, Famous Fakes and Frauds

The Sinaia lead plates are a set of lead plates written in an unknown language or constructed language and are alleged to be a chronicle of the Dacians, but they are widely considered by historians and linguists to be a 19th century fake.

The plates were written in the Greek alphabet, the connection with the Dacian civilization being quite obvious from the names of Dacian kings and placenames.

History

The origin of the Sinaia lead plates is obscure. The first known mention of them was when the 200 lead plates were discovered in the warehouse of the Bucharest Museum of Antiquities in the 19th century. They were widely ignored and considered fake because they looked new, as they showed no traces of corrosion. However, renewed interest in the plates has been shown more than a century later, following the publication of a report about them by Dan Romalo in 2003. Of the 200 pieces in the collection of plates, only 35 are known to remain today.

There is a legend that the lead plates are in fact copies made at the Nail Factory of Sinaia in 1875 from the originals, which were made of gold. Allegedly, the gold was used either in the building of Peleş Castle, or the plates were part of the Romanian Treasure which was never returned by Russia after World War I.

An analysis made at the Institute of Nuclear Physics, Bucharest confirmed that the composition of the plates is very similar to lead manufactured in the 19th century.

Another argument in favour of the hypothesis that the plates are fake is that the plates use the Greek name of a town, Comidava, as used by Ptolemy, the author not knowing that the actual name of the town was Cumidava, the true name being discovered only recently in 1942.

Description

Most of the plates are roughly rectangular, with the exception of one round plate. They have dimensions between 93mm x 98mm and 354mm x 255mm. Most are written in the Greek alphabet, with a few additional signs; the text includes 'V' from the Latin alphabet and signs for palatal 'c' and 'g' resembling those of the Cyrillic alphabet. They also include text written in some unknown scripts that do not resemble any known written alphabet. In addition to the text, the plates also contain many complex illustrations, including those of armies, kings, cities, temples and buildings.

Language

The language appears to have some Indo-European languages|Indo-European traits, but it has nothing in common with what linguists expect to be Dacian language, as no correlation with the Romanian language substrate can be found. Also, unlike any known Indo-European language, it appears to have almost no inflections, nor declinations. In addition, almost all nouns end in '-o', including names which had other endings in Latin and Greek, e.g. ''Boerobiseto'', ''Dacibalo'', ''Napoko'' and ''Sarmigetuzo''. There are some words borrowed from Greek and Latin, but some important words such as the word for 'king' (''mato'') and 'priest' (''kotopolo'') do not have any known Indo-European cognates.

Debate and authors

There is a debate among historians whether the plates are real or fake.

Arguments for being fake:

The language from the tablets does not look like the expected Dacian language

*The writing does not respect the writing norms of the Greek alphabet (however they were written in Dacian, not in Greek).

*The language has many similar words with Romanian, but very few from the Dacian substratum.

*Some symbols from the tablets show close resemblance to those used in francmasonic secret societies (thus pointing to a politically made fake).

*Most of the lead tablets seem to have been made in the XIX century.

*The plates contain glyphs and some writing styles extremely similar to Arabic.

*The language from the tablets has some words which we know originated in Slavic languages.

*The tablets contain some personal names (Mary, Joseph) which we know entered later in the Romanian-Dacian language, during Christianisation (although some linguists like Adrian Bucurescu claim the tablets contain the history of the Carpato-Danubian space, up to the middle ages).

*At least one tablet contains a scene of battle represented in typical medieval style, in which an army seems to obviously use cannons in besieging a fortress over the Danube, and one flag from that scene is similar to that used in Moldava during the time of Ştefan cel Mare.

Arguments for being original:

*The city of Sarmizegetusa is represented with pinpoint accuracy, even with details unknown at the time at which the plates were presumably forged.

*The plates contain much information about Dacian history, information that does not appear in any other sources - names of yet unknown kings, queens, cities, gods, etc. If someone would have wanted to make a fake, it would make it as plausible as possible.

*There was found an original medallion found with Burebista, which is inscribed in a similar language to that of the tablets. The medallion is from the Dacian period.

*There exists a letter in which it is clearly mentioned that the plates were lead copies of the original gold ones.

*Napoleon Săvescu, a Romanian historian known for his strong interest in Dacian history, managed to find similar tablets (golden ones) originating from Bulgaria.

*In the XIX century, the common view was that the Dacian alphabet was the old Hungarian one, view sustained by both Romanian historians of the time, Bogdan Petriceicu-Hasdeu and Nicolae Densuşianu, both with interest in ancient Dacian history. However, the alphabet of the tablets is Greek.

Fragments (translated and adapted into English)

'Zamolxes has given to Scadiun a forest located on a land near the country of the Scythians, said Geniuklo, head of the lowland churches.'

'Decebal in front of the Dacian army, presumably said: many will be those who will die at Sarmizegetusa at the hands of the cursed Roman army.'

'Decebal got married with Roziana, the great judge of the Dacians, because the land of the Dacians was overwhelmed by the evil enemies. She bowed before the god Zavelio. Diegis and Vezina brought to the dacian king at Sargetia, captured Roman soldiers.'

'Fakso said to Mary: be wise! Joseph turned to his parents-in-law who looked at his son Musat, and said :you may be the ruler of the country!'

'At his return, Decebal said to his friends, commanders over the Dacian soldiers: I`m afraid that the city of Sarmizegetusa will fall because of the evil ones. But the god Zavelio knows who are those.'

'King Decebal returned carrying brutish Roman soldiers captured. To these two were given salt and bread, according to our customs. But before that, they went into the knowledge of Zamolxe, Aksine and Mary. God Zavelio stopped the evil forces two day journey from Sarmizegetusa. Then the great king Decebal attacked, together with the great priest Voicu.'

References

*Petan, Aurora, A possible Dacian royal archive on lead plates], ''Antiquity Journal'', Vol 79 No 303, March 2005

*Manolache, Dumitru http://www.gardianul.ro/index.php?a=dezvaluiri2005053101.xml Enigma tăbliţelor dacice], Gardianul, 31 May 2005

External link

*http://soltdm.tripod.com/reviews/tabliteromalo.htm Linguist Sorin Olteanu's verdict on the tablets (in Romanian)]

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinaia_lead_plates

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