Archaeologist accused of forging earliest portrayal of Jesus’ crucifixion

Eliseo Gil is on trial regarding findings which “rewrote the history books,” but may, in fact, have been falsified, reports The Telegraph.

A criminal court in Spain’s Basque Country is set to begin determining if Gil and two former colleagues’ 2006 discovery of a third-century depiction of Christ’s crucifixion — 600 years older than any others — is the real deal.

The finding of more than 400 “extraordinary” artifacts went from widely celebrated to deeply questioned after University of the Basque Country professor Joaquín Gorrochategui raised the flag after seeing a presentation by Gil. “The Latin was so vulgar; I could not believe my eyes as the slides were projected on the screen,” Gorrochategui tells The Telegraph, noting that the use of a modern comma on one artifact also tipped him off to the relics’ possible falsification.

After Gorrochategui told the director of a local museum, a commission was created by the provincial government, which pressed charges against Gil, accusing him of having fraudulently created documents proving the artifacts’ authenticity and damaged actual heritage objects. Prosecutors are now demanding Gil spend five and a half years in prison and pay $313,000 in damages for allegedly inscribing the authentic objects with fake graffiti, Live Science reports.

Some believe that Gil is not responsible for falsifying the artifacts while still maintaining that they are indeed fake.

“I have no doubts about their falsity,” archaeologist Ignacio Rodríguez Temiño tells Live Science, adding that there is “no dispute” on the case among academics.

Whether or not he is found guilty in a court of law, Gil claims to be suffering greatly due to the ordeal. He has been ostracized from the archaeological world, he said at a 2015 news conference, a punishment he says is akin to “going through torture.”

Main image copyright: New York Post

Written by: Hannah Frishberg

First published 10.02.20:

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