Manuscripts from the margins: How to edit a forgery. International Conference: 20–22 September 2018, Macquarie University, Sydney

The how and why of editing forgeries is a largely inarticulated domain. Whilst forgeries are ubiquitous in collections everywhere, they remain understudied and unappreciated. Efforts have concentrated on the identification of tell-tale signs of duplicity rather than on the mechanics used to feign authenticity. As the intention of forgers differs from that of ancient scribes, the publication of textual remains cannot proceed as usual. Lacunae may be intentional and text fragmentary from its inception.

Palaeographical description and the registering of other metatextual features are further complicated by the aspirations and failures of forgers. What sorts of comparisons are possible or even responsible? How much of the traditional repertoire of conventional signs and symbols should we read into ambiguous marks? Do we engage with the artefact as executed or imagined? Is it ethical to publish editions which make transparent forgers’ techniques? Does scholarly engagement with forgeries merely warn future fakers of things they should avoid?

These questions illustrate some of the potential problems which attend the publication of forgeries. These issues will form the basis of discussion through the presentation of a diverse range of textual forgeries purporting to be from antiquity through to the Renaissance. A a two-day workshop in which participant each present a forged text and ways to best edit and study them on 20th–21st will be followed by a day of lectures on synthetic themes for a wider audience on Saturday 22nd.

The keynote speaker will be Professor Christopher Rollston, Associate Professor of Northwest Semitic languages and literatures, Department of Classical and Near Eastern languages and Civilizations, George Washington University, Washington D.C.

Offers of papers are welcome, and should be addressed to by April 13th. Expressions of interst in participating should identify a forged manuscript which will be examined in the workshop. “Manuscript” should be understod broadly, to include any surface used for writing, including papyrus, parchment, paper, metal, stone, wood, pottery, etc. The chronological range of the conference (in terms of when the forgeries have been asserted to date to) is antiquity through to the Renaissance, but papers on forgeries from after this period which address the themes of the conference will also be considered.

For further information please email

Conference website:

About Lorenzo Calvelli

I am a tenured Lecturer in Ancient History at the Ca' Foscari University of Venice. I was a Marie Curie graduate student at University College London and earned a PhD in «History and Archaeology of the Mediterranean countries» thanks to a cotutelle agreement between Ca' Foscari and the Université Paris X. I was a post-doctoral fellow at the American Academy in Rome, at the Warburg Institute in London, at the Villa I Tatti in Florence (The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies), and at the Centro di Studi e Ricerche sui Diritti Antichi in Pavia. From September to December 2015, I was a visiting research scholar at Princeton University thanks to a fellowship offered by the Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies. My research interests focus on classical and late-antique epigraphy, on architectural spolia and antiquarian collections in Venice and Rome, on early Christianity in the Adriatic region, and on the reception of antiquity. I am the author of numerous scholarly contributions on these topics, among which my book «Cipro e la memoria dell'antico fra Medioevo e Rinascimento» (Venice, 2009). I serve on the Editorial Board of the series «Mediterranean Nexus», published by Brepols. I am a member of AIEGL, BES, ASGLE, and Terra Italia Onlus, on whose Academic Board I sit after my three-year appointment as Secretary General (2013-2015).
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