While working as an amateur archeologist in the 1970s, Fujimura Shinichi began faking the discovery of a large number of artifacts and relics from the Japanese Paleolithic Era (40,000 BCE to 14,000 BCE). In the 1980s, local authorities began using his findings as the basis for tourist attractions and products. The Japanese government even designated some of his dig locations as national historical sites. Fujimaru became highly celebrated in archaeological circles and was said to have “divine hands.”
It took until 1999 for real doubt to be cast, by which point Fujimaru had already visited over 180 dig sites and found artifacts at nearly all of them (including the oldest stone tools ever found in Japan). In a research paper published by a small group of expert archeologists, his finds were deemed “odd” in comparison to similar finds from the same era. The following year, journalists from the major Japanese newspaper Mainichi Shinbun caught wind of the rumors and decided to plant hidden cameras at one of Fujimaru’s dig sites. They very quickly caught him positioning 61 fake artifacts. When presented with the evidence by the journalists, he was forced to confess.
Mainichi Shinbun ran an exposé on the front page of their morning edition. They had discovered that Fujimaru would take artifacts from other dig sites, bury them in his own sites in the early hours of the morning, dig them up again later the same day, and claim to have made extraordinary discoveries. Fujimaru apologized at a press conference for his decades-long Paleolithic shenanigans, claiming he had been “possessed by an uncontrollable urge.”
The Japanese Archaeological Association expelled Fujimaru and then spent nearly three years reviewing the scandal, finally admitting in 2003 that they could have done more to uncover the vast inconsistencies in his fraudulent artifacts. From what we can find out, it appears no further action has been taken against Fujimaru.
This article is part of the SPYSCAPE forgery series, which delves into the history of forged and faked physical items, from war documents to valuable historical artifacts to great works of art. For more articles in the series, click here.