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Sunday, 5 November, 2000, 13:09 GMT
Archaeologist exposed as fraud

A leading Japanese archaeologist has admitted planting artefacts at an excavation site so he could claim credit for discovering his country's oldest stoneware.

Shinichi Fujimura AP
Shinichi Fujimura apologises at a news conference
Shinichi Fujimura, who was known as "God's hands" because of his ability to uncover ancient objects, was caught on camera burying his "discoveries" before digging them up again as new Stone Age finds.

The senior director at the Tohoku Palaeolithic Institute told a news conference carried by national television: "I have nothing more to say except than I am deeply sorry for what I've done.

"I fell victim to temptation," he added, with his eyes cast down. "I am speechless when I think about how I can apologise."

Professional pressure

Fujimura's admission came after a Japanese newspaper published video stills of him putting pieces of stoneware in a hole at an excavation site and then covering them in soil.

Fujimura Mainichi Shimbun
A little early morning digging
The damning pictures appeared on the front page of Mainichi Shimbun's Sunday edition.

After being caught out by the newspaper, the archaeologist admitted he went out alone to the excavation site several times in the early hours of the morning to bury dozens of artefacts that he claimed he "discovered" later in the day.

The burden of having to find older sites had prompted him to commit the fraud with artefacts from his own collections, he said.

Numerous fakes

The 50-year-old archaeologist led a dig in late October in Kamitakamori, 300 kilometres (190 miles) north of Tokyo.

Fujimura Mainichi Shimbun
He places the stoneware in the ground
His finds, believed to be supports for huts or tent-like structures, were claimed as proof of ancient human dwellings which pre-dated Japan's previous oldest, found in Chichibu, northwest of Tokyo.

Of 31 pieces unearthed at the Kamitakamori site, the researcher admitted to having faked 27, the Mainichi Shimbun reported.

He also admitted he falsified all 29 pieces found this year at the Soshinfudozaka archaeological site in Shintotsugawa, in the north of the country.

Besmirched reputation

With suspicion spreading over his past discoveries, the nation's historical records are now coming into question, the newspaper added.

Fujimura Mainichi Shimbun
He buries "the find" with the help of his boot
All pictures: Mainichi Shimbun newspaper

He is said to have been involved in research at least 180 sites.

"Japan's research over the Palaeolithic period may be forced into a fundamental review," the daily newspaper said.

Only a handful of remains from human dwellings from the prehistoric era have been found.

The self-taught archaeologist had earned his reputation with a series of finds including a first record-breaking discovery in 1981 of stoneware dating back 40,000 years.

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