BAR 35:02, Mar/Apr 2009
Professionally Excavated Cross Charged as Forgery
The forgery scare that has attacked unprovenanced inscriptions in Israel like a virus (Professor Eric Meyers of Duke University has claimed that 30 to 40 percent of inscriptions in the Israel Museum are forgeries) is now spreading to artifacts that have been professionally excavated in England.
In 1990, near the Somerset town of Shepton Mallet, British archaeologist Quentin Hutchinson of Birmingham University excavated a fourth-century A.D. Roman grave in which he found an amulet in the form of a cross made of silver beads surrounding a circular disk pierced with holes to form the Greek letters chi and rho, the first two letters of the Greek word Christos (“the anointed one”).
The uniqueness of the find made the amulet and the site instantly famous as early remnants of Christianity in Britain, but it also raised doubts about the amulet’s authenticity.