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Trial Begins for Archaeologist Accused of Forging Earliest Portrayal of Jesus’ Crucifixion

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A rare Christian relic was discovered and documented as the earliest depiction of Jesus' crucifixion only to turn out to be a forgery. What's the real story behind this crime of Biblical proportions?


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Recent ancient artifacts were discovered, one said to have depicted Jesus’ crucifixion in the third century A.D. In fact, it was claimed to be the earliest portrayal of that fateful Friday ever found. However, after vast research, iconographers are now claiming these findings to be false, stating that the relics look like they were forged, having actually been created at a much later date.

The archaeologist accused of forging these rare artifacts will now undergo a criminal trial. He had claimed to find relics from the third century about Jesus, Egyptian hieroglyphics and the early use of the Basque language.

Archaeologist Eliseo Gil and two former colleagues will go to criminal court in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain. The team is accused of creating forgeries of ancient graffiti on hundreds of pieces of pottery, glass and brick. They said the artifacts were found in the Roman ruins at Iruña-Veleia, six miles (10 kilometers) west of Vitoria-Gasteiz.

Gil claimed the drawing of the three crosses on pottery was the earliest known portrayal of the crucifixion. Other archaeologists disputed him, recognizing that the language on the graffiti shows that it is too modern in context and style to be from the third century. Gil and associates are facing five years in prison if they are found guilty of fraud, damaging heritage items and providing false authenticating document support.