Archaeology Magazine Archive

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Hoax Update Volume 55 Number 1, January/February 2002
by Eric A. Powell

After Japanese archaeologist Shinichi Fujimura was caught on camera planting artifacts at a Palaeolithic site in 2000, he insisted he was guilty of perpetrating only one other hoax during a remarkably successful career in which he pushed back the date for the earliest occupation of Japan to 600,000 years ago ("Hand of God Does the Devil's Work," January/February 2001). Now the disgraced archaeologist has come clean and admitted to faking discoveries on at least 42 Middle and Lower Palaeolithic sites in Japan.

Charles Keally, an archaeologist at Sophia University, Tokyo, notes that these sites account for virtually the entire archaeological record in Japan before the Upper Palaeolithic. "This leaves us with our oldest evidence for human occupation of Japan at 35,000 years ago," he says. Japanese textbooks are already being revised.

Though Fujimura's precise whereabouts have not been made public, he is known to have checked into a psychiatric hospital. Another archaeologist, Mitsuo Kagawa, committed suicide last year after a magazine accused him of faking finds at the Palaeolithic site of Hijiridaki Cave in Japan's Oita prefecture. His family is now suing the magazine that published the allegations.

© 2002 by the Archaeological Institute of America