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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 (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 western Iran.

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 discoveries.

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


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