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McCrone Scientists play Key Role in Authenticating the ‘Gospel of Judas’


Ink Analysis Reveals Possible Physical Link Between Ancient World and Medieval Times

WESTMONT, IL (April 11, 2006) – McCrone Associates of The McCrone Group, internationally recognized as a world leader in microanalysis and the nation’s Premier Microscopy Resource, announces it was responsible for conducting the analysis of the ink on the only known surviving copy of the Gospel of Judas.

The National Geographic Society unveiled the ancient Coptic manuscript dating from the third or fourth century containing the first modern translation of the ancient Gospel of Judas in Washington, DC on April 6th. The codex was authenticated as a genuine work of ancient Christian apocryphal literature on five fronts: radiocarbon dating, ink analysis, multispectral imaging, contextual evidence and paleographic evidence.

A five-person McCrone team of scientists specializing in forensic ink analysis, conducted polarized light microscopy (PLM), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and Raman spectroscopy tests on samples of the document’s ink. They established that the ink included a carbon ink (used throughout history) with a metal-tannate component for which there is some evidence of its use in third-century inks. The analysis was performed at McCrone’s Westmont, Illinois facility.

Physical evidence of the Gospel of Judas’ age was found not only within the papyruses but also in the ink that was used to pen the ancient Coptic script. Analysis suggests that the ink may itself constitute a unique and important discovery. McCrone’s scientists reported that the Gospel of Judas may have been penned with an early form of iron-tannate ink that included a small amount of carbon black (soot). If so, it could be a previously unknown “missing link” between the ancient world’s carbon-based inks and the iron-gall alternatives that became popular in early medieval times.

The methodology followed by McCrone scientists on the Gospel of Judas analysis was previously used by the firm in work on the Shroud of Turin and the Vindland Map. McCrone scientists reported the overall analysis had a high degree of difficulty as many of the ink constituents were previously unknown as such. Furthermore, the samples were small and fragmented requiring special sample preparation for which McCrone is known throughout the world.

“There isn’t anyone in the world with such a comprehensive array of equipment and skills,” Donald A. Brooks, President and CEO, The McCrone Group said. “There are numerous small and medium sized labs that have selected pieces of equipment and the specialized staff to operate them. McCrone has more than $15 million worth of microscopes and instrumentation and one of the best scientific and administrative teams in the world,” he said.

“Because we also educate some of the top scientists in the world, they know where to come when they need some of their most difficult problems solved,” Brooks said. “No other firm in the world is as qualified as McCrone to undertake such an assignment. The work on the Gospel of Judas reflects the very best of today’s Modern Microscopy Science,” he added.

The McCrone team was led by Joseph Barabe, Senior Research Microscopist at McCrone along with Joseph Swider, Elaine Schumacher, Kate Martin and Anna Teestov, Senior Research Scientists. All the team members are also on the faculty of the College of Microscopy located at the McCrone Group headquarters in Westmont, Illinois.

The College of Microscopy is a highly specialized academic institution that offers advanced professional training in analytical microscopy techniques, and it has the largest array of advanced modern microscopy instrumentation within any one single location in the United States. The staff of the McCrone Group has been teaching scientists and researchers for more than 40 years. The College of Microscopy specializes in training materials scientists, crime lab personnel, First Responders, art conservators, researchers and technicians in how to identify unknown or suspect materials using light microscopy, electron microscopy, and micro- FTIR/Raman spectroscopy.

About The McCrone Group
Founded in 1956 and located in Westmont, IL, The McCrone Group, Inc., is a world leader in materials analysis and is internationally recognized as the premier microscopy resource. The company is comprised of three business units: McCrone Associates, the analytical service division; McCrone Microscopes & Accessories, the instrument sales division; and the College of Microscopy, the education division that provides training to industry and government scientists worldwide. For more information about The McCrone Group, please visit

McCrone Associates, the analytical service division, is focused on solving some of the most difficult materials analysis problems along with the day-to-day needs of forensic, pharmaceutical, materials, and environmental laboratories, scientific researchers, and government organizations worldwide.

McCrone Microscopes & Accessories, the instrument sales division, offers a complete line of microscopes and microscopy related instruments, reference standards, and resource books.

The College of Microscopy, the Group’s new Learning Center, provides training to both industry and government scientists worldwide. The staff of The McCrone Group has been teaching scientists and researchers for more than 40 years. Today The College of Microscopy offers more than 35 courses a year to the technical and educational community around the world.

The Atlas of Microscopic Particles (, the Group’s new online particle resource, is the first of its kind internet-based particle reference for scientists, microscopists, and criminalists engaged in the materials identification area.