Mummified Princess is a fraud - report
Cool $11 Million was sought on black market
NEW YORK, Dec. 21, 2000 -- (BUSINESS WIRE FEATURES)-- A mummy adorned
with a cuneiform-inscribed gold plaque identifying it as a 2,600-year-old
Persian princess is a fraud, according to an exclusive report in the January/February
issue of ARCHAEOLOGY Magazine.
Seized by Pakistani police in the western city of Quetta during a murder
investigation, the mummy has been claimed by Iran and Afghanistan's Taliban
regime as well as Pakistan.
The complete story, written by Kristin M. Romey, Assistant Managing
Editor, and Mark Rose, Managing Editor of ARCHAEOLOGY is available online
at ARCHAEOLOGY's Web site at www.archaeology.org.
(Updates to the story will be posted as developments warrant.)
Two weeks after the discovery of the mummy hit the local and international
press this past October, Oscar White Muscarella of the Metropolitan Museum
of Art and author of The Lie Became Great: The Forgery of Ancient Near
Eastern Cultures, visited ARCHAEOLOGY's offices, where he was asked for
his thoughts on the Persian princess.
Muscarella stated that its description sounded remarkably similar to
photographs of a gold-adorned mummy sent to him last March by a New Jersey
resident on behalf of an unidentified dealer in Pakistan-in fact, they
were the same.
Seven months earlier, Muscarella had received four photos of a mummy
in a wooden coffin, replete with golden crown, mask, and inscribed breastplate.
The author of an accompanying claimed that the mummy was the daughter
of the Persian king Xerxes, referring to an attached one-page translation
of the cuneiform inscription on the breastplate.
The owners, he wrote, had a video of the mummy that could be sent to
New York if the museum was interested in purchasing the princess.
Muscarella, who suspected immediately that the mummy was a fraud, contacted
the translator of the inscribed gold plaque, a cuneiform expert at a major
American university, and found out that the dealer's New Jersey representative
had not given him the complete analysis of it.
The inscription does indeed contain the line "I am the daughter
of the great king Xerxes," as well as a sizeable chunk lifted straight
from a famous inscription of king Darius (522-486 B.C.) at Behistun in
The Behistun inscription, which records the king's accomplishments,
dates to 520-519 B.C., substantially later than the 600 B.C. date proposed
for the mummy.
The second page of analysis listed several problems with the mummy's
inscription that led the scholar to believe that its author wrote in a
manner inconsistent with Old Persian.
The inscription, he concluded, was likely a modern falsification, probably
dating from no earlier than the! 1930s.
Muscarella broke off communications with the New Jersey representative.
Seven months later, police raided a house in Quetta and the Persian
princess surfaced again-this time under the glare of the international
ARCHAEOLOGY Magazine has submitted Muscarella's documentation to federal
authorities, who have forwarded the matter to Interpol.
Hopefully, the dispute between uneasy neighbors in a dangerous part
of the world will be resolved.
While the Persian princess may be a fraud, perhaps a genuine Egyptian
mummy with forged Persian additions, she is a reminder of the powerful
emotions that can be sparked by unprecedented, or unbelievable archaeological
Updates to the story will be posted online at ARCHAEOLOGY's
Web site as developments warrant.
ARCHAEOLOGY Magazine, published for more than 50 years by the Archaeological Institute of America,
is dedicated to providing the public with news and information about archaeological
discoveries. The AIA also publishes ARCHAEOLOGY's
DIG, an exciting new archaeology magazine for kids.
Editor's Note: Please cite ARCHAEOLOGY Magazine as the source for this
material. CONTACT: ARCHAEOLOGY Magazine, New York Kristin M. Romey, Assistant
Managing Editor 212/732-5154