Brit-Am Ephraimite Forum no. 83
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Ephraimite Forum-83
Date: 7th October /08 8 Tishrei 5768
1. Botany: Another Academic Forgery Revealed
2. Archaeology: Brit-Am Version of
Explorator 11.24
3. The
Excavatator of the City of Dan Passes Away


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1. Botany: Another Academic Forgery Revealed
A 60-year-old scandal, an eminent botanist and a plant that was planted
Published Date: 03 October 2008
By Ben Bailey
THE discovery of a rare plant on the Isle of Rum in the 1940s led scientists to question whether the Ice Age had ever reached the Scottish isles.
Now, more than half a century later, it has emerged that the man credited with finding the plant had grown it in his Newcastle garden before replanting it in the Inner Hebrides.

Professor John Heslop-Harrison, formerly of Newcastle University, led scientific investigations to the Hebrides in the 1940s. But his "discovery" of rare Arctic alpine plants, which he claimed were indigenous to the Isle of Rum, was criticised in his lifetime and in recent years.

In his 1999 book, Karl Sabbagh put forward evidence that the professor had planted the species himself. Mr Sabbagh subsequently received widespread criticism from academics for his "unfounded" theories.

But now a debate that has gone down in botanic folklore has come to an end as fresh evidence has emerged implicating Prof Heslop-Harrison in faking the discovery that catapulted him to scientific fame.

Mr Sabbagh claims to have accessed reports by two fellow botanists that were uncovered in the Natural History Museum archives.

Botanist RB Cooke is said to have written of a 1943 expedition to the Isle of Rum: "I saw a dozen or more plants which in my opinion had been recently planted. There were to be seen marks which suggested a stone having been used to press in the soil round the roots."

Mr Sabbagh said: "When I did my research, they (the reports] weren't around and I rather wish they had been.

"It's quite satisfying years later to see two distinguished botanists who had both been worrying about this and clearly believed he was faking things."

Mr Sabbagh's book, A Rum Affair: A True Story Of Botanical Fraud, in which he accuses Prof Heslop-Harrison of fakery, was largely based on a hidden report by Cambridge University don John Raven.

Prof Raven infiltrated one of the expeditions to the Isle of Rum and wrote a report claiming that the Arctic alpine plants had been imported. However, he left instructions that his report should not be made public until Prof Heslop-Harrison had died.

After the publication of his book, Mr Sabbagh came under fire from Newcastle University academics, who accused him of disgracing the name of an eminent botanist. Dr Gregory Kenicer, a lecturer at the Royal Botanic Garden of Edinburgh, said: "This is a really famous affair which, for lots of botanists, is an extremely amusing topic. To the rest of the world, why someone would go to such great lengths to find fame may seem fairly ridiculous, but even in botanic circles this still seems a bizarre boast."

Dr Kenicer said that fortunately this was an isolated incident and that botanic forgery was certainly not commonplace.

He said: "It is also quite odd that someone would waste so much time and effort when botanists have just as much chance of becoming famous by finding real discoveries."

2. Archaeology: Brit-Am Version of Explorator 11.24
From: david meadows <>
explorator 11.24 October 5, 2008

The travails of Neanderthal mothers:

The Times was reprinting/revisiting Piltdown Man (in reverse order):
Interesting satellite/atlas project:

Not sure why this Zekediah courtier's seal is back in the news:

Nice feature on Eilat Mazar:

More/followup on malls near the Mount of Olives:

The Aleppo Codex search story still has legs:


Evidence for the English coastline in Roman times:

A Mycenean burial with an imported sword:

Apparently Troy has been found (but competent editors have not):

... this appears to be the source article the foregoing messed up:

More coverage of that beneficial (maybe) bacteria found in the
An Iron Age mausoleum from Armenia:

First they tracked Vikings with cod, now with mice:;_ylt=Ag02TgJTdxB8yCRxsYCEToLPOrgF

... so it seems a good thing to test some Danes too:

Nice articles on Stonehenge:

Remember the fire in the Cutty Sark? They finally figured out
the cause:

Satellite imagery has revealed a pyramid structure in Peru:

The varied population of Machu Picchu:

Mike Ruggeri's Ancient Americas Breaking News:

Ancient MesoAmerica News:
Nice item/reviewish thing on John Stuart Mill:

Justice in the ancient World:

Cave paintings appear to have been touched up over thousands of

The 2008 IgNobel Recipients (some archaeological content!):

Short item on the history of dictionaries (sort of):

Russia has 'rehabilitated' Nicholas II and his family:


Robert E. Lee:

3. The Excavatator of the City of Dan Passes Away
Avraham Biran, Archaeologist Who Studied Biblical Sites, Is Dead at 98

Avraham Biran, an archaeologist of biblical sites who excavated Tel Dan, an ancient city along Israel?s northern border, and uncovered an unexpected stone fragment bearing what might be the earliest reference to the House of David, died on Sept. 16 in Jerusalem. He was 98.
Rina Castelnuovo for The New York Times

Avraham Biran in 1999. He wrote ?Biblical Dan,? a book about Tel Dan, the ancient city in northern Israel that he excavated.

Dr. Biran?s death was confirmed by a spokesman from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Jerusalem, where Dr. Biran directed the institute?s school of biblical archaeology.

In 1993, after nearly three decades of digging at Dan, which is on the Syrian border and near the headwaters of the Jordan River, Dr. Biran and his colleagues discovered a foot-long piece of stone with a partial inscription in Early Aramaic.

The archaeologists were able to decipher text on what was possibly a monument to commemorate victory in battle by a king of Aram over Israel. The inscription, which contained the words House of David, was dated to the ninth century B.C. and was hailed by biblical scholars as a unique find and evidence of the antiquity of King David's lineage. Some scholars, however, have questioned the interpretation of the discovery and even the existence of King David.

Dr. Biran attributed the find to good luck and said that in archaeological fieldwork, "it's all chance, whatever you do." Indeed, the earthen mound of Dan, or Tel Dan, was chosen almost by chance. In 1966, Dr. Biran rushed to the scene when Israel's military tensions with Syria were on the rise and the 50-acre mound was in danger of being shelled or covered by fortifications. He persuaded the Israeli Army to let him excavate Dan's southern slope and found signs of human habitation dating from the fifth millennium B.C.

It was already known that the Bible, in the Book of Kings, refers to Dan as the city of the Golden Calf. The Israelite king Jeroboam placed a gilded idol in a shrine for his subjects to worship there, probably in the ninth century B.C.

Although Dr. Biran and his collaborators never found the calf, they did discover the remains of a mud-brick city gate of the Middle Bronze Age and tombs from the Late Bronze Age. After sifting through layers that contained pottery shards from Roman times, they also established that Israelite tribes probably arrived in the 12th century B.C. and later used the site as a fortress for defending against raids by Syrian tribes. He peeled away Dan's complex historical passage in a book, "Biblical Dan."

Before beginning his work at Tel Dan, Dr. Biran had been a diplomat and government official and had nearly died when he was working for the Palestinian government in 1938. While riding in a military convoy, Dr. Biran's car rolled over a land mine, which killed the three passengers in the back seat. Dr. Biran, who was driving, emerged unscathed, as did a police officer next to him. They staggered from the car, only to be attacked by gunmen, who shot the police officer in the face.

In the 1950s, he served as Israel?s consul general in Los Angeles before being appointed director of the Israel Department of Antiquities and Museums in 1961. As director, Dr. Biran oversaw excavations and in the 1970s helped negotiate publication of parts of the Dead Sea Scrolls, then held in the Palestine Archaeological Museum in East Jerusalem.

Avraham Bergman was born in Palestine. He later changed his surname to Biran, which is derived from a Hebrew word for capital. At the time, in the late 1940s, he was a deputy military governor of Jerusalem, the capital of the newly formed Jewish state. He received his doctorate in archaeology from Johns Hopkins University in 1935.

In 1999, Dr. Biran reflected on the relevance of studies of ancient settlements: "What is historical in the Bible is not for me to say. I will not enter into that."

"All I will say," he continued, "is that if there is a reference in the Bible to a city, Dan, what at an earlier time was called Laish, in the second millennium B.C., I have such a city."

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