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Response to Thorwald C. Franke Nov 7-10th, 2013, Atlantis Scout, ‘The Atlantis-Malta Hoax of Fortia d’Urban and Grognet from 1828 – A Phoenician  Atlantis stone and the Atlantis manuscript of a certain Eumalus of Cyrene: Forgeries!’, an article based mainly on August Boeckh, De Titulis Quibusdam … January 8th, 1832, published in The Philological Museum Vol 2/1833 (ed. Julius Charles Hare … pp. 457-467), and on Albert Ganado, Biographical Notes on Melitensia 2, in Melita Historica, Journal of the Malta Historical Society No. 14. 2004: 67-93.

The article argues for the hypothesis that the two artefacts mentioned in the title are forgeries of the 1820s. The two artefacts in question are an inscribed stone and an ancient text. I quoted from the ancient text by Eumalos in my 2000 publication that is included in the bibliography of Franke’s article, but the stone I never mentioned. My main concern is the validity of the ancient text by Eumalos.

The statement made in Franke’s article that the Eumalos manuscript is a forgery is based on a number of significant errors in details and the omission of certain relevant facts. These will be elaborated in detail in a publication that is in preparation. In the meantime I can make a number of comments.

Firstly, the single most salient error upon which this allegation is based is that “the manuscript [of Eumalos] was lost before anybody could have examined it” The sequence of historical events that is outlined in these allegations places the discovery of the Eumalos manuscript in Crete in 1821, after which time the manuscript was lost in Nauplia. However the documented sequence of events was different – the manuscript was actually found on the island of Djerba in 1817 by Ariston of Samos and Domeny de Rienzi, both of whom subsequently sojourned in Malta through 1821/1822 and during this time Rienzi lent the manuscript to Grongnet who then made the arrangements for Book VI to be translated from the Greek to Italian by a M. Pezzali from Parga. The manuscript was subsequently lost by Rienzi in Tripolitzi.

Secondly, contrary to what is stated by Franke quoting Boeckh, neither the Marquis Fortia d’Urban nor the architect Georges Grongnet were the discoverers of either artefact – as already stated, the manuscript was discovered by Rienzi and Ariston. The inscribed stone was found in Mdina during deep excavations in the yard of the residence of a Maltese priest Joseph Felix Galea, who then donated it to Grongnet on the 7th May 1826.

Once Grongnet had the manuscript translated into Italian by Pezzali he sent it to the Marquis Fortia d’Urban. Grongnet had the inscription translated by a Maltese professor of Chaldean, Giuseppe Cannolo, and then also referred the inscription to Fortia d’Urban on the 13th June 1827; on the 30th August 1827 the priest confirmed to Fortian d’Urban the discovery of the stone and his donation of it to Grongnet.  On the 7th January 1828 Fortia d’Urban presented the inscription on the stone to the Asiatic Society. On the 4th February 1828 Fortia d’Urban presented to the same society a French translation of the sixth book of Eumalos of Cyrene.  It was Fortia d’Urban who was getting all the credit. In 1830 Grongnet passed on the Italian translation to Borzesi who included a paragraph from it in his Appendix to the Guide.

Thirdly, another incorrect statement refers to the allegation that the Appendix is the work of Grongnet. The dedication by Borzesi to Henry Ponsonby, the son of the Governor-General in Malta, dated the 8th of March 1830 and published in the 1830 edition clearly refers to the Appendix on Atlantis through the following statement, ‘I have subjoined to the “Guide” some reflections respecting the ancient appellation of this celebrated land, and some important events that have taken place in relation to it.’ The Appendix itself is preceded by a statement stamped by the Royal Malta Library that declares the Appendix to be the “Appendice alla Guida Istorica di Malta e sue Dipendenze, dedicate al Signor Enrico Ponsonby, scritta da Giuseppe Perricciuoli Borzesi da Siena (my italics). A copy of this first edition is available both at the National Library, the Bibliotheca, in St Anne Square Valletta as well as in the Melitensia section of the University of Malta at Tal-Qroqq.

Fourthly, the conclusions reached by the two authors cited, Boeckh and Ganado contradict one another. Boeckh accuses the Marquis of fraud whilst Ganado’s choice is Grongnet. Franke citing Boeckh states that Grognet never conceded that the stone was a forgery, whereas Ganado states that Grongnet confessed to creating the forgery himself. But Ganado is merely quoting from an unreferenced newspaper article of 1978 that cannot be considered to be a trustworthy source for events that occurred in the early 1820s. Furthermore Ganado places an exaggerated reliability on what Domeny de Rienzi had to say – the latter is even described by Ganado as a renowned orientalist, whereas he was in reality a charlatan and an impostor as declared by his contemporaries; his publications were shown to be fraudulent and included sites and places that he had never visited. His accusations against Grongnet were totally groundless and motivated by his frustration that a copy of his manuscript had been utilised by third parties in his absence.

Fifthly, regarding the non-existence of Eumalos of Cyrene, I have clarified this for my coming publication. On page 60 of my 2000/2001 publication, “Malta – Echoes of Plato’s Island”, I referred to Eumalos of Cyrene as an ancient author because at that stage of my research he had produced an ancient text. In the meantime I have confirmed that he had basically edited and copied the text of Aristippus on the ‘History of Libia’. The mention by Eumalos, in parts of this text apart from Book VI, of some of the successors of Aristippus at his School of Philosophy at Cyrene has placed the dating of Eumalos at around 330BC, thus making him a near contemporary of Plato. As an editor-copyist of the original text of Aristippus, Eumalos should not be considered as an ancient author proper and would not be expected to have his name included in a list of ancient authors. Yet to exclude him as a valid manuscript copyist on these grounds is not legitimate, in the same way that the vast majority, if not all, of the editor-copyists of the original texts of the ancient authors proper are not known.

My sixth and final comment at this stage concerns the presence of ‘anachronisms’ in the Eumalos manuscript that were considered by Boeckh in 1832 to be indicators that this manuscript was forged. This was a time when methods of relative dating were still very crude, let alone the absolute dating methods that are available today. This was a time when the Genesis account in the Old Testament was taken to be scientifically accurate, and that the world was created in 4004BC. Today the presence of anachronisms in the ancient texts is never equated with forgery of that particular document; otherwise, apart from the Old Testament a significant number of these ancient texts would fall into the same category, and these would also include the ancient text of Manetho that still constitutes the ‘bible’ of archaeologists for dating purposes.  

In conclusion, insofar as the ancient text of Eumalos is concerned, there is no evidence at all that it was a forgery, and until such evidence is produced and confirmed the manuscript material as it survives can legitimately be utilised as reference material.