In 1867, a manuscript surfaced in the Netherlands of what seemed to be a 13th century copy of an older original. It was recorded using an unknown system of lettering and contained laws and histories from before our Common Era. Its contents puzzled the few who got to see it, as it chronicled the experiences of a people whose culture spread from Northern Europe, to the Mediterranean and into the Far East. The writings were at odds not only with accepted historical traditions, but also with the dominant religious and cultural orthodoxy.
Five years later, the first translation of these collected accounts was published as “Thet Oera Linda bok”, named after the Oera Linda family, which appears to have authored the manuscript and preserved it through the ages. Even before publication, a verdict had already been pronounced in newspapers and magazines: The book was obviously fake news, and anyone who thought otherwise was a fool. In 1876, the first argument was presented as evidence against its authenticity: The OLB could not be authentic, it was said, because its language was ‘gibberish’. Some of the most prominent Old Frisian specialists, however, judged very differently.
In 1938, the controversial manuscript was donated to the Frisian provincial library by its then owner, Cornelis Over de Linden IV (1883-1958), who hoped that his donation would finally lead to a proper study of the documents and their contents. But until today, this has never happened. The library states that the OLB is, “commonly believed to be a forgery” — though substantiation of this belief is scarce. The main ‘evidence’ seems to be the fact that scholars do not take it seriously. Indeed, asking whether the manuscript or the story it tells might, after all, be authentic has been a taboo in Dutch academia since the late 1870s.
The Oera Linda Foundation was founded 14 December 2020, with the purpose of promoting research on, translations of and publications about the the Oera Linda manuscript (or codex). The document begins with a letter, dated 1255 AD by the last known copyist of the writings, Hidde Oera Linda, who instructed his son Okke to also make a copy, “so that they will never be lost”.
The Foundation’s first publication, “Codex Oera Linda”, is intended to be such a copy. It contains a new transliteration and a modern English translation of the original texts, with an index of proper names and a suggested alternative reading order. It finally replaces the only English edition thus far, from 1876 by William Sandbach, which was a translation of the first (1872) Dutch translation by Dr. Jan Ottema and included a mutilated print of the pages with the wheel-based system of letters and numbers.
Knowledge today is more accessible than ever. In our times, ever greater numbers of people have the information they need to make up their own minds about matters relevant to them. For those interested in the oldest accounts depicting the deep roots of Europeans and the many places their ancestors visited by sea in the ancient past, as well as the origins of our languages and ways of looking at the world — particularly in this time of re-discovering the innate desire for freedom, truth and justice — Codex Oera Linda offers a wealth of inspiration.