This chapter offers observations and considerations concerning black writing inks encountered in writing supports transmitting documentary and literary texts of the late Antiquity and early Middle Ages. It discusses different types of inks, the methods of their detection and their use in different times and geographical areas.
For many years after the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, text analysis and fragment attribution were the main concern of the scholars dealing with them. The uncertain archaeological provenance of a large part of the collection added an additional difficulty to the formidable task of sorting thousands of fragments. After sixty years of scholarly research, the questions of origin, archaeological provenance, and correct attribution of the fragments are still debated. In many cases, material characterization of the scroll writing media delivers answers to these questions.
Physical and chemical examination of the skin-based material of the Dead Sea Scrolls started shortly after their discovery. Subsequent studies dedicated to long-term preservation resulted in a respectable body of knowledge about this material, in many ways very different from medieval parchment.
A new multi-instrumental approach, developed for an accurate characterization of the highly inhomogeneous “parchment” of the Dead Sea Scrolls, might lead to a reliable reconstruction of their history. This approach is illustrated by the case studies, in which we discuss the specific questions of origin (1QHa), archaeological provenance (11QTa), and post-discovery interventions (1QapGen ar).
In this study we demonstrate the possibility to identify the production area of the scrolls, coupling non-destructive quantitative analysis of trace elements to spectroscopic investigation of the inks. This approach, that allowed us to determine the Dead Sea area as origin of 1QHodayota, is of general validity.
In 2002 new “Dead Sea Scrolls” fragments began to appear on the antiquities market, most of them through the Kando family. In this article we will present evidence that nine of these Dead Sea Scrolls-like fragments are modern forgeries.