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Archaeological Find Exposed As Fake

November 5, 2000

TOKYO (AP) _ A leading Japanese archaeologist admitted Sunday he lied about finding stone implements at an archaeological site believed to be among the world’s oldest human habitations.

At an emotional news conference, Shinichi Fujimura confessed to staging the discovery. He spoke after a major newspaper ran three photographs on its front page Sunday, showing him digging holes and burying the implements at the site.

``I did something I shouldn’t have done,″ said Fujimura, the vice chairman of the Tohoku Paleolithic Institute. In a traditional sign of humility, he remained in a deep bow throughout the news conference.

Fujimura’s research team on Oct. 23 announced that while excavating a site in Miyagi state, about 186 miles northeast of Tokyo, they had dug up several holes that appeared to have held pillars that supported primitive dwellings.

The holes were said to have been discovered in a layer of earth thought to be about 600,000 years old, which would rank them among the world’s oldest signs of human habitation. The work done at the Miyagi site had drawn international attention to Japanese archaeology.

But 61 of 65 stone items dug up at the site were actually from Fujimura’s own collection of artifacts taken from earlier excavations, said institute chairman Toshiaki Kamata.

Fujimura volunteered to resign from the institute to take responsibility, said Kamata, who added that he himself had no immediate plans to step down.

The Mainichi newspaper, which took the photographs in secret, said it waited to publish them until confirming with Fujimura that he had fraudulently buried the items.

The institute accepted full blame.

``He’s right there in the photos, digging holes and putting stones in them. There’s nothing more you can say,″ said Kamata, who is Fujimura’s boss. ``With this media coverage, all our work over the years is as good as ruined.″

Kamata added, however, that he would try hard to regain confidence in other findings by the institute that he said were unassailable.

Kamata told The Associated Press that Fujimura was a perfectionist who placed excessive pressure on himself in a drive to find ever-older and more plentiful artifacts from Japan’s prehistoric times.

Over his career, Fujimura had legitimately located a host of ancient items, and had no need to search for additional glory, Kamata said.

``It was such a foolish thing to do,″ he said.

The scandal was expected to tarnish not only the research of Fujimura’s institute but also the work of other Japanese researchers in this country where important archaeological finds often make the front pages of newspapers.

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