24 June 2024 The Future is the Product of the Past

Authorities in New York have been accused by leading academics of repatriating fake Roman artifacts to Lebanon

Leading academics from France and the United Kingdom have accused New York authorities of returning fake Roman artifacts to Lebanon.

The artifacts were sent back to their country at a ceremony held in New York on September 7. The nine items were mosaics from the third through fifth centuries when Rome ruled the Mediterranean region that includes what is now known as Lebanon. Investigators valued the mosaics at $7 million.

The mosaics, which depict gods, gladiators, and mythical beasts, were seized along with 15 other objects in 2021 from a New Jersey storage unit by officials from U.S. Homeland Security Investigations and the district attorney’s office.

The unit was rented by Georges Lotfi, 82, a retired Lebanese-born pharmaceutical executive and sometime New York resident who collected and dealt in art.

Eight out of nine mosaic panels that the US authorities recently returned to the Middle Eastern country are not what they seem, according to claims made by Djamila Fellague of the University of Grenoble.

Mosaic fragment from the Villa Romana del Casale, Sicily, a Unesco world heritage site.
Mosaic fragment from the Villa Romana del Casale, Sicily, a Unesco world heritage site.

Fellague claims to have uncovered proof that forgers had copied designs from original mosaics in archaeological sites or museums in Sicily, Tunisia, Algeria, and Turkey.

Academician said. “Eight of the nine ‘returned’ mosaic panels were fakes that [are] relatively easy to detect because the models used are famous mosaics,”.

Fellague particularly highlighted a panel depicting an ‘Anguiped Giant.’ The academician claimed that this panel was copied from a mosaic at Villa Romana del Casale in Sicily, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.”

“The expert mentioned that only one of the returned artifacts was copied from an item housed at the Beirut National Museum in Lebanon.

Fellague suspects that a forgers’ mosaic workshop was located somewhere in the Middle East, probably in the 1970s and 1980s, judging from other pieces that have surfaced on the art market.

Christos Tsirogiannis, a guest lecturer at the University of Cambridge and a leading expert in looted antiquities and trafficking networks, believes the evidence is irrefutable.

Tsirogiannis said that were the revelation to be shown to be true it would be extremely embarrassing for the office of the Manhattan District Attorney (DA), which had announced the repatriation of antiquities to Lebanon on 7 September.

“Even if you are not an expert, if you put the fake next to the authentic mosaic, you see how similar they are, but also how the quality is actually not that good,” claims Tsirogiannis.

Tsirogiannis added that the alleged forgers had made the mistake of copying well-known mosaics, which have been extensively photographed by tourists with images widely available on the internet and in academic publications. “The whole thing is crazy. The authorities continually do these things without consulting experts.”

Related Articles

Scientists have discovered an ancient cemetery of flying reptiles roaming the Atacama desert of Chile 100 million years ago

7 April 2022

7 April 2022

In Chile, an unusual cemetery has been discovered that contains the well-preserved remains of prehistoric flying reptiles that flew over...

Excavations at Körzüt Castle unearth 2 cuneiform inscriptions and a new Urartian Susi temple

25 October 2023

25 October 2023

During the rescue excavations carried out at the Körzüt Castle in the Muradiye district of Van province in eastern Turkey,...

Archaeologists explore Eastern Zhou Dynasty mausoleum in China’s Henan

30 January 2022

30 January 2022

An archaeological survey of a royal mausoleum of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty (770 B.C.-256 B.C.) has been launched in central...

The Temple of Persian Water Goddess Anahita Discovered in Iraqi Kurdistan

8 March 2024

8 March 2024

Archaeologists excavating the Rabana-Merquly mountain fortress in what is present-day Iraqi Kurdistan suggest that it may also have served as...

Largest Headhunting Massacre of Women and Children in Neolithic China

12 November 2023

12 November 2023

A new study discovers that ancient headless skeletons discovered in mass graves in China are the remains of victims who...

The first Bull Geoglyph discovered in central Asia

29 September 2021

29 September 2021

Archaeologists from the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of History of Material Culture (IIMK RAS) and LLC Krasnoyarsk Geoarchaeology discovered...

Could the Kerkenes Settlement be Gordion the Second?

1 August 2022

1 August 2022

Although the settlement on the Kerkenes mountain, located within the borders of Sorgun district of Yozgat, has been known and...

İnkaya Cave excavations in Türkiye’s western uncovers 86,000-year-old traces of human life

22 August 2023

22 August 2023

In the excavations carried out in the İnkaya Cave in Çanakkale, located in the northwestern part of Türkiye, in addition...

One of the earliest water channels in history dating back 8,200 years was discovered in western Türkiye

27 August 2023

27 August 2023

One of the earliest water channels in history dating back 8,200 years was found during the excavation work carried out...

Shetland Discoveries Seem Close to Uncovering Ancient Viking Capital

4 July 2021

4 July 2021

Important discoveries were made on the last day of excavations to find the ancient Viking capital of Shetland, through the...

An 8,000-year-old number stone found in Yeşilova Mound

27 July 2023

27 July 2023

The 8,000-year-old numeral stone, which is thought to have been used while calculating during the Yeşilova Höyük (Yeşilova Mound) excavation...

New research reveals the true function of Bronze Age daggers

30 April 2022

30 April 2022

A new study led by Newcastle University has revealed that the analysis of Bronze Age daggers has shown that they...

The tomb of the “Bird Oracle Markos” was found in the ancient city of Pergamon

31 August 2022

31 August 2022

During the excavations carried out in the Ancient City of Bergama, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List, the...

Found in Spain a poem by Virgil engraved in a Roman amphora

22 June 2023

22 June 2023

Archaeologists have deciphered a verse by Virgil, the greatest poet of Rome’s Golden Age, carved into the clay of a...

Gold jewelry from the time of Nefertiti found in Bronze Age tombs in Cyprus

1 December 2021

1 December 2021

Archaeologists from the University of Gothenburg have concluded an excavation of two tombs in the Bronze Age city of Hala...