Spanish Archaeologist Found Guilty of Faking Artifacts

Category : Human Interest

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. falsification / ˌfɔːlsɪfɪˈkeɪʃən / (n) – the act of making something fake

    Falsification of documents is a criminal offense.

  2. inscription / ɪnˈskrɪp ʃən / (n) – words written on or cut into surfaces like stone, brick, metal, etc.

    The inscription on the monument is so old that it cannot be read anymore.

  3. revolutionary / ˌrɛv əˈlu ʃəˌnɛr i / (adj) – involving or causing a great change

    The scientists discovered a revolutionary way of growing plants in space.

  4. authenticity / ˌɔ θɛnˈtɪs ɪ ti / (n) – the quality of being real

    The museum is looking for an expert to check the authenticity of the artifact.

  5. appeal / əˈpil / (v) – to submit a request for the reversal of a court's decision

    They only have two days to appeal the decision to a higher court.


Read the text below.

A Spanish archaeologist was found guilty of faking many of his discoveries.

Eliseo Gil formerly worked as the director of excavations at the Roman archaeological site of Iruña-Veleia in Spain’s Basque Country. He received a prison sentence of more than two years and was fined €12,490 (over $14,000) for falsification of documents and fraud. The court ruled that many of Gil’s finds were manipulated to make it seem like they contained inscriptions representing the era they supposedly belonged to.

Gil first made headlines back in 2006 when he presented ancient artifacts excavated from Veleia that dated back to the third century. His discoveries included clay pots engraved with one of the first depictions of a religious figure, Egyptian hieroglyphics, and the earliest written example of the Basque language. Gil claimed that his discovery, which was considered revolutionary at the time, could potentially rewrite history.

However, some experts questioned the authenticity of his artifacts two years later. According to them, some of the objects contained traces of modern glue and references to a 17th-century philosopher. Additionally, the inscriptions used were written with modern spelling and contained names and phrases inconsistent with the time period that they were supposedly from.

Gil claimed that he was innocent and plans to appeal the verdict. According to Gil’s lawyer, the archaeologist asserted that it has not been proven that the pieces were fake. He added that if the artifacts truly had been manipulated, it was still unclear who did it.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think the punishment for faking artifacts (i.e., a two-year prison sentence and a fine of €12,490) is enough? Why or why not?
• Do you think it’s possible that Gil is innocent? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• What do you think authorities should do after confirming that an artifact is fake (e.g. throw the fake artifact away, investigate further if it was intentionally faked)?
• What do you think is the impact of falsifying artifacts (e.g. may confuse historic records)? Discuss.

Category : Human Interest