As Indiana Jones once wisely said, artifacts “belong in a museum.” And whether you’re a history junkie or just someone who likes taking a peek at the old and ancient, you have to tip your hat to the Indys of the world who know how to handle hot-ticket artifacts.
However, while archeologists aren’t battling Nazis with a trusty whip to bring pieces of history to your local museum, some famous artifacts have stirred up a lot of baggage and controversy. In fact, some sent waves through scientific communities, with conflicts playing out in arguments, forgery trials, and all manner of scientific queries.
Below are 10 artifacts that stirred up controversy and put the science community at each others’ throats…
1. Dumbuck Crannog: In 1898, amateur archeologist William Donnelly unearthed an ancient stone-and-timber jetties preserved by the river at Dumbuck. Afterward, Donnelly and other archeologists—even the local community—launched a full-scale dig that uncovered even more in the area. That’s when the not-so-amateur archeologist Robert Munro stepped in…
Munro claimed everything found was forged, even writing a 400-page book on the topic (geez, Rob), and he and Donnelly carried out a long-winded argument through the local papers. In 1998, archeologists returned to the site and confirmed Munro’s suspicions: everything was a forgery. But who planted it all? No one’s quite sure.
Helbig actually obtained the pin from Francesco Martinetti, a renowned smuggler and forgery dealer. Scientists doubted the authenticity after that information leaked. In 2011, the Prehistoric and Ethnographic National Museum tested the pin with up-to-date technology and discovered that it was, surprisingly to some, authentic.
While Jordan has turned silent on its claims of authenticity, some scholars believe they’re, at most, 50 years old.
5. The Davenport Tablets: When archeologist Jacob Gass found four tablets he believed proved a “lost white race” that influenced Native American culture in a Davenport mound, scientists leapt at the chance to decode his findings. The only problem? The text on the tablets were just a random collection of letters and symbols—it was gobbledygook.
For its part, the Davenport Academy furiously backed Gass’s initial hypothesis, however, which struck a massive blow to the organization’s credibility.
No one bought his theory, and he destroyed all copies of the book he wrote on the topic.
No one’s quite sure if there’s any truth to the letter, or if the secret Gospel exists, but Smith was a highly respected scholar. Would he forge such a letter?
Some theories, and even the History Channel, proposed archeologists are covering up a greater truth about these stones.
As most codices were supposed to have been destroyed by the Spanish, few people were ready to accept this newfound addition to what we understand about the ancient tribe. To this day, no one’s quite sure of its authenticity.
Owned by Oded Golan, a man who faced the most extensive criminal trial in history, no one can verify where exactly it came from.
Some of these items may look like a load of nothing, but the possible historical revelations behind them demands that these questions of forgery be answered—that’s for sure!
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