Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Artifact forgery

An article by John Timmer on Ars Techica discusses the recent article, Forging Ahead, by Charles Stanish in Archaeology.

Charles Stanish writes
In an antiquities store in La Paz, I recently saw about four shelves of supposed Tiwanaku (ca. A.D. 400-1000) pottery. I told the owner that most were fakes and she became irritated and called me a liar. So I simply touched one at a time, saying "fake," "real," "real from Tiwanaku," "fake," "fake made by Eugenio in Fuerabamba," and so forth. She paused for a moment, pulled one down that I said was real, and told me that it was also a fake. I congratulated her on the fact that her fakes were getting better and she just smiled. My mistake is an instance of what San Francisco State University archaeologist Karen Olsen Bruhns has identified as a very real problem—the experts who study the objects are sometimes being trained on fakes. As a result, they may authenticate pieces that are not real.
The article mostly discusses South American antiquities. There is nothing about coins.

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