The Japan Times
July 25, 2001

Archaeology experts believe Obanazawa dig questionable

YAMAGATA (Kyodo) A group of archaeological experts reviewing a set of ruins in Obanazawa, Yamagata Prefecture, after revelations that a researcher involved in the excavation had fabricated evidence, said Tuesday the entire dig may be bogus.

According to the team, "it is difficult to determine" whether the No. 3 Sodehara ruins date from the early to middle Paleolithic era.

The ruins were discovered in 1992 by a group of researchers headed by then renowned archaeologist Shinichi Fujimura. Subsequent digs between 1993 and 1999 led to the unearthing of about 200 stone artifacts that reportedly dated back to the period between 500,000 and 100,000 years ago.

However, experts decided to inspect the ruins more closely after Fujimura, who later stepped down in disgrace from his position as deputy director of the Tohoku Paleolithic Cultural Research Institute, admitted in November that he had planted finds at two other sites at which he had been working.

On Tuesday, the team said it based its decision on data such as the discovery of three planted stone artifacts, the lack of any artifacts to strongly suggest that the ruins date from the early to late Paleolithic age and that items already unearthed have been described as suspicious by other archaeologists.

Obanazawa officials said they will begin correcting references to the ruins in publications that the city issues.