Artemidorus papyrus €2.75 million fraud
Artemidorus papyrus, papers that were considered of an extraordinary value after being attributed to ancient Greek geographer Artemidorus of Ephesus, is a forgery, according to research compiled in an investigation by Turin prosecutors, ANSA news agency sources said. The probe was into alleged fraud by Serop Simonian, who in 2004 managed to sell the piece to the €2.75 million to the Compagnia San Paolo Art Foundation.
The large-scale fraud, however, will remain unpunished.
The prosecutors have requested the case be archived as the statute of limitations has expired.
Artemidorus papyrus (1st century CE) has been considered as an extraordinary document for many reasons. It consists in a ca. 2.5 m long piece of papyrus on which five columns of text appear, accompanied by the outline of a map –the only Greek map preserved on papyrus–, and two different sets of designs: a series of anatomical sketches and a collection of 41 animal figures with inscriptions informing about their names. The overlap of part of the text with a fragment of Artemidorus of Ephesus’ Geography (2nd century BCE) known through indirect tradition led scholars to identify the text on the papyrus, or at least part of it, as coming from Artemidorus and to call the whole piece as “Artemidorus papyrus”. Since 2006 the papyrus has been involved in a bitter polemic on its authenticity.