A couple of years ago I wrote about the discovery of “inscriptions in the Basque language that could date from as early as the third century”; at the time I said “I’m afraid my first response is skepticism,” and that skepticism turns out to be well founded. Giles Tremlett in the Guardian reports:
Now a committee of experts has revealed those jewels to be fakes. “They are either a joke or a fraud,” said Martín Almagro, a professor in prehistory from Madrid. “How has something like this been taken seriously for so long?” The hunt is on for an archeological fraudster who defaced fragments of third century pottery with fake graffiti.
The fraudster seems either to have buried the pieces or planted them in a laboratory where experts sifted through finds. The fakes left the first people to see them swooning…
The words in Euskera, if genuine, would have predated by 700 years the previous earliest known written form of the language. The hieroglyphics caused speculation about the existence of third century Egyptologists who might have created the inscriptions to teach children.
Now experts who have studied the pieces in depth say the fakes, some of which used modern glue, should have rung warning bells immediately. References were found to non-existent gods, 19th-century names and even to the 17th-century philosopher Descartes.
Words in Euskara used impossible spellings. The hieroglyphs included references to Queen Nefertiti which would have been almost impossible to make prior to the 19th century.
The Calvary scene, meanwhile, included the inscription “RIP”. “It is a formula that can only be applied to people who are dead,” Almagro told El Correo newspaper. “To say that Jesus Christ is dead would be a heresy. I haven’t seen anything quite so funny in the whole history of Christianity.”
Hat tip to Glossographia.