19 September 2018

The Oera Linda paper research fail

it looks like the OLB paper has similar waterlines to 12th century paper from Spanish-Arab Toledo
these waterlines were the main reason (for some) to reject it as medieval in 1876

Facts and quotes regarding the failed OLB paper research that started (some years?) before 2006 and ended (?) after 2011, without delivering the announced (see below) elaborate report or official publication. The members of the research team do not answer to any inquiries about the project.
[new link to a PDF of the whole manuscript facsimile with line numbering]
My guess to why a report was never delivered is:
  • Because they did not get the results they desired.
Then why did they not get any proper results?
  • Because they did not ask the right question.
So what would have been a good starting question?
  • Can the paper possibly have been medieval Spanish-Arab?*
[* This was already suggested by Dr. Ottema in his lecture of February 1871 to the Friesch Genootschap, and printed in the first edition of Thet Oera Linda Bok, 1872, p. VII; second edition 1876, p. XIX, translated by Sandbach in his 1876 English edition, p. VII. It was also suggested by rev. Lasonder and prof. Land.]

Oera Linda paper research team (left) and supporting experts (2011)

1. Research team and supporting experts
Porck was a specialist of the paper-historical collection at the Koninklijke Bibliotheek (National Library of the Netherlands), but is now retired. The other two researchers - Kardinaal and van der Grijn - together have a bureau for "Paper investigation & Archival research": De Facto. Their website does not mention this project, although in 2013 they referred to it as a 'feat' ('of arms', see below). It was an ambitious project, as at least the following organisations (!!!) and people were also involved:

2. The planned final report was never realised

Correspondence 2011: Henk Porck to Jan Ott (relevant quotes)
date translation original
Jan. 1 We are currently writing a report of the research that has been done in the course of the previous years. We zijn op dit moment bezig een verslag te maken van het onderzoek dat in de loop van afgelopen jaren is uitgevoerd.
Feb. 2 I will ask if we can share with you our more elaborate report, which we are also currently finishing. Ook zal ik vragen of we ons meer uitgebreide verslag, dat we eveneens momenteel aan het afronden zijn, met u kunnen delen.
Mar. 9 Because of the confidentiality of the material - it was not yet officially published - we would like to know more about why it is of concern to you. Vanwege de vertrouwelijkheid van het materiaal - de officiele publicatie moet nog verschijnen - willen we graag meer informatie beschikken over uw belang in dezen.
Apr. 4 As I have informed you in an earlier message, we intend to publish a more elaborate report about the research of the OLB. Zoals in een eerder bericht aan u meegedeeld, zijn we van plan om een uitgebreider rapport uit te brengen over het onderzoek aan het OLB.
Apr. 15 After consultation with the research team I can finally inform you that we prefer to provide any further information from our research exclusively in the the form of an official publication. In overleg met het onderzoeksteam kan ik u tenslotte meedelen dat wij er de voorkeur aan geven om nadere en verdere conclusies uit ons onderzoek pas in de vorm van een officiele publicatie naar buiten te brengen.

Relevant quote form short article, published in the magazine of the Dutch Royal Archivists Union (KVAN), edition April 2011 (my underlining; English translation here):
The first test-results were presented in 2006 at the congress of the International Union of Paper-historians (IPH) in Spain. End of 2009 an expert meeting was held in the Den Haag Royal Library, where the provisional results of the continued research were discussed. By now yet another phase of additional research is finished and a final publication is prepared (planning: 2013). [again: this never materialized]
De eerste onderzoeksresultaten zijn in 2006 gepresenteerd op het congres van de Internationale Papierhistorische Vereniging (IPH) in Spanje.2 Eind 2009 werd in de Koninklijke Bibliotheek in Den Haag een expert meeting gehouden waarin de voorlopige resultaten van het vervolgonderzoek werden besproken. Inmiddels is weer een periode van aanvullend onderzoek afgerond en wordt een afsluitende publicatie voorbereid (planning: 2013).

3. Vague claims in short informal presentations

Fragment of personal introduction of paper research team 'De Facto' (Kardinaal & vd Grijn) "Even voorstellen: Ellen van der Grijn en Adriaan Kardinaal" in newsletter of Dutch foundation for Paper history* dated March 15, 2013. [* branch of Dutch trade union of paper and cardboard fabrication companies VPN; it is defined as a "tribune for all who are interested in the history of making and using paper and cardboard in the Netherlands since the 15th century" (... wil een platform zijn voor allen die geïnteresseerd zijn in de historie van het maken en gebruiken van papier en karton in Nederland vanaf de 15de eeuw). This means that medieval Spanish-Arab paper will not be part of their frame of reference.]
Our last feat ('of arms') is the controversial Oera Linda-book.* The OLB is a most curious manuscript that surfaced in 1867. Part of its content would belong to the oldest texts of world literature, if the manuscript would be genuine. Its content and language have been thoroughly examined over time, but not the material. One of the most striking results of our investigation is, that the ink of the overold manuscript (it would have last been copied in 1256) can hardly have been dry when it became public, as the used paper type only became commercially available in 1866.** ~ [* Also in Dutch this sentence does not make sense. The act of writing a book can be a feat, for example; not a book on itself. ** This is a contrived way of avoiding a clear statement. What they actually mean is that the paper contains elements that were not earlier used in 19th century Netherlands commercial paper making. However, they are not aware of the fact – or ignore it – that such paper may have been made much earlier by Arabs in medieval Spain. The team had beforehand excluded the possibility that the paper might have been older than the 19th century.]
Ons laatste wapenfeit is het controversiële Oera Linda Boek. Het Oera Linda Boek is een zeer merkwaardig handschrift dat in 1867 opdook. Een gedeelte van de inhoud zou, als het handschrift echt was geweest, tot de oudste teksten uit de wereldliteratuur behoren. De inhoud en de taal van het handschrift zijn in de loop der tijd grondig onderzocht maar het materiaal niet. Een van de opvallende resultaten van ons onderzoek is dat de inkt van het oeroude handschrift (in 1256 zou het voor het laatst zijn overgeschreven) nog maar nauwelijks droog geweest kan zijn toen het in de openbaarheid kwam. De gebruikte papiersoort kwam namelijk pas in 1866 commercieel op de markt.

Program on invitation for 'Theme day' meeting (Oct. 13) in newsletter Sept. 19, 2016:
13.00-13.30 Adriaan Kardinaal: ‘Het Oera Linda Boek. Kijken naar het papier van een negentiende-eeuwse vervalsing’ ("The Oera Linda-book. Examining the paper of a 19th century forgery")

From report of 'Theme day' October 13, 2016 in Apeldoorn:
Historian Adriaan Kardinaal in his lecture 'The Oera Linda-book. Examining the paper of a 19th century forgery' revealed the background of the investigation done by him, Ellen Van der Grijn and Henk Porck. Their conclusion is that the book in no way whatsoever has the historical value attributed to it in the 19th century.* ~ [* This is an ambiguous statement, as in the 19th century, some attributed a high value to it, while others deemed it worthless. Why do they avoid clear statements about paper age, ink composition and alleged paper colouring method? Why do they not explain why the possibility that it is 13th century paper has to be excluded, strictly on material grounds?]
Adriaan Kardinaal, historicus, onthult in zijn lezing, ‘Het Oera Linde Boek. Kijken naar papier van een negentiende-eeuwse vervalsing’, de achtergrond van het onderzoek dat door hem, Ellen van der Grijn en Henk Porck is gedaan. De conclusie van het onderzoek is dat het boek op geen enkele wijze de historische waarde heeft die er in de 19de eeuw aan werd toegedicht.

P. Smidt van Gelder
The website of another (more local) foundation for paper history also has this report. However, an extra sentence is added:
Kardinaal also mentioned that none other than the Wormer paper manufacturer Pieter Smidt van Gelder had already in the 19th century been consulted about the authenticity of the controversial manuscript. [The choice of words "none other than" reveals that the author has great respect for Van Gelder, who in fact merely had a glance at one of OLB's pages.]
Kardinaal vermeldde onder meer dat niemand minder dan de Wormer papierfabrikant Pieter Smidt van Gelder reeds in de 19e eeuw om advies was gevraagd omtrent de authenticiteit van het omstreden manuscript.

= = = = = =
Links to PDF of preliminary report and short article:
2011 Het Oera Linda Boek , een ‘cold case’ en ‘hot item’
2006 The Oera Linda Boek A literary forgery and its paper
= = = = = =
Sandbach's 1876 translation of Ottema - relevant part

rephrased by Harold T. Wilkins, "Secret Cities of Old South America", p. 361.

examples of Arabic manuscripts here on website of prof. J.J. Witkam
To be continued.

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