Friday 7 February 2020

Graffiti Finds Subject to Court Case

In Spain, a criminal trial has begun of three men accused of forging finds of Roman artefacts that allegedly show a third-century depiction of Jesus' crucifixion, Egyptian hieroglyphics and the early use of the Basque language (Tom Metcalfe, Trial begins for archaeologist accused of forging earliest portrayal of Jesus' crucifixion' Live Science 7th Feb 2020).  Archaeologist Eliseo Gil, geologist Óscar Escribano and materials analyst Rubén Cerdán, appeared this week in a criminal court in Vitoria-Gasteiz, the capital of Spain's Basque Country accused of creating forgeries of ancient graffiti on hundreds of pieces of pottery, glass and brick that they claim were found in the Roman ruins at Iruña-Veleia, about 6 miles (10 kilometers) west of Vitoria-Gasteiz.
Gil claimed the graffiti on the artifacts showed very early links between the Roman settlement in Spain and the Basque language; he also claimed that a drawing of three crosses scratched on a piece of ancient pottery was the earliest known portrayal of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. But other archaeologists have disputed the finds. Among other major discrepancies, they pointed out that some of the language of the graffiti shows that it was made in modern times. Gil and his former colleagues [...] say they are not guilty of any deception. Gil and Escribano are facing five and a half years in prison if they are found guilty of fraud and damaging heritage items, while Cerdán faces two and a half years in prison if he is found guilty of making fraudulent documents vouching for the authenticity of the artifacts.
A scientific commission convened by the provincial government in 2008 concluded that 476 of the artefacts were manipulated or outright fakes and that Gil and his colleagues had perpetrated an elaborate fraud. In response, the provincial government stopped Gil and his company from working at Iruña-Veleia and pressed charges, which have now come to court. Gil maintains that he is innocent and that there is no scientific evidence that the artefacts are fake.

See also the paywalled and misspelled Telegraph article:
James Badcock, 'Academic accused of re-writing history with 'fake finds', Telegraph 2 February 2020

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