"What the French study told us is that ink technology was undergoing a transition," Barabe told LiveScience. The Gospel of Judas' odd ink suddenly fit into place.
Barabe and his colleagues specialize in thorough investigations of old — or supposedly old — documents and artwork. The chemical composition of inks used can reveal the difference between something authentically ancient and a forgery. In 2009, Barabe helped expose a gospel called the "Archaic Mark," which some claimed was a 14th-century manuscript, as a modern forgery. He's also worked with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to detect forged paintings.
A call from National Geographic, however, was a "big deal," Barabe said. "It was both thrilling and an honor," he added.
The Society wanted to find out if the Gospel of Judas, discovered in the 1970s, really dated back to early days of Christianity or whether it was, like Archaic Mark, a fake. Barabe brought together a team of scientists with a variety of specialties, and they ran the Gospel through an intensive analysis of microscopy and spectroscopy. [See Images of the Ancient 'Gospel' Documents]