The Museum of Hoaxes
hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive
   
The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: History
The Mystery of the Burnley River Skull — Back in May, a Lancashire couple, Mick and Elaine Bell, found a human skull in a shallow section of the Burnley River while out walking their dogs. They gave the skull to the police, who initially suspected that rain had washed it down from a nearby cemetery. But as forensic experts examined it, they grew puzzled. The features of the skull indicated the person had been a man who was either an Australian aboriginal or from a South Pacific Island. How had he ended up buried in…
Posted: Wed Jul 11, 2012.   Comments (5)

Hoaxes as a class project—and learning lessons from failed hoaxes — Prof. T. Mills Kelly teaches a class on hoaxes at George Mason University titled, "Lying About the Past." It's a study of hoaxes throughout history (the Museum of Hoaxes is on his syllabus!), but also uses hoaxes to teach critical thinking and historical analysis. As part of the class, the students have to create a historical hoax of their own and launch it on the web. I could have sworn that I'd posted previously about Kelly's class, but couldn't find where I did so. Back in 2008, his…
Posted: Thu May 17, 2012.   Comments (0)

Notice to Thieves, Thugs, Fakirs and Bunko-Steerers — Warning notice posted in Las Vegas, New Mexico, March 24, 1882. Had to post it because I love the term "Bunko-Steerers". From New Mexico's Digital Collections (via Kate Nelson).
Posted: Thu May 10, 2012.   Comments (0)

How Abraham Lincoln Invented Facebook (a hoax) — On Wednesday, Nate St. Pierre posted an interesting story on his blog. He detailed his discovery of an attempt by Abraham Lincoln in 1845 to create and patent a social-networking system that very much resembled Facebook. Only it was an all-paper version of Facebook, and Lincoln didn't call it Facebook. In his patent application he supposedly called it "The Gazette," and he described it as a system to "keep People aware of Others in the Town." He laid out a plan where every town would…
Posted: Thu May 10, 2012.   Comments (1)


Recreating the Cardiff Giant — Syracuse-based artist Ty Marshal has created a replica of the Cardiff Giant, according to its original size specifications (ten-feet tall). His replica is going to be buried in Syracuse's Lipe Art Park and then unearthed on October 16, the anniversary of the date on which the Giant was first "found" on William Newell's farm back in 1869. After being unearthed, Marshal's giant will remain on display in the park, under a tent, for one week. Visitors will be allowed to view it for 25…
Posted: Thu Sep 29, 2011.   Comments (2)

Ancient shroud casts doubt on Shroud of Turin — Archaeologists have found a burial shroud sealed within a 2000-year-old tomb in Jerusalem. Comparing the newly found shroud to the Shroud of Turin adds to the evidence that the Shroud of Turin is a fake. From nationalgeographic.com: The newfound shroud was something of a patchwork of simply woven linen and wool textiles, the study found. The Shroud of Turin, by contrast, is made of a single textile woven in a complex twill pattern, a type of cloth not known to have been available in…
Posted: Mon Dec 21, 2009.   Comments (44)

Fake Gospel of St. Mark — A version of the Gospel of St. Mark, once thought to date from the Byzantine era, has now been determined to be a late-19th-century fake. From the Chicago Sun Times: The manuscript, written in Greek, originally was believed to have been written as early as the 14th century. But strong suspicions that it might not be nearly so old surfaced in 1989, after it was discovered that a blue pigment on one of the pages wasn't available until 1704, Mitchell said. It took carbon dating, advanced…
Posted: Wed Dec 16, 2009.   Comments (2)

The Vinland Map, the controversy continues — Every few years I post an update about the Vinland Map (a map, supposedly from the early 15th century, showing part of North America). In 2002 I posted that an analysis of the map's ink proved it was a fake, but in 2003 I wrote that a new study indicated it might be genuine. And in 2004 I linked to a Scientific American article that described historian Kirsten Seaver's theory that the map was created in the 1930s by a German Jesuit priest, Father Josef Fischer, in order to tease the…
Posted: Mon Jul 20, 2009.   Comments (5)

Did Da Vinci create the shroud of turin? — A new theory about the Shroud of Turin: Lillian Schwartz, a graphic consultant at the School of Visual Arts in New York, thinks Leonardo da Vinci created it. Her reasoning is that "the face on the Turin Shroud and a self portrait of Leonardo da Vinci share the same dimensions." The self-portrait of da Vinci and the face on the shroud do look similar, but I thought it was pretty well established that the shroud dates back to at least 1355, which would make it too old for da Vinci to…
Posted: Mon Jul 06, 2009.   Comments (11)

Is the bust of Nefertiti a fake? — Swiss art historian Henri Stierlin argues that the famous bust of Queen Nefertiti on display in Berlin's Pergamon museum is a fake. He says that it was created around 1912 as a way for an archaeologist to color test ancient pigments found at the digs, but when a German prince mistook it for an ancient work of art, the archaeologist didn't have the courage to correct his important guest. And so the statue came to be regarded as an ancient work of art. [Agence France Presse]
Posted: Thu May 07, 2009.   Comments (4)

Knights Templar Turin Shroud — Shroud of Turin News: A Vatican historian says she's uncovered documents indicating that between 1204 and 1353 the Shroud of Turin was kept hidden by the Knights Templar, who worshipped it as a holy relic. Apparently they required their members to "venerate the image by kissing its feet three times." (Some of their other rituals may have involved spitting on the cross, stripping naked and kissing their superior on the buttocks, navel, and lips, and submitting to sodomy.) The Vatican is…
Posted: Mon Apr 06, 2009.   Comments (5)

The stegosaurus on the temple — A carving on the ancient Ta Prohm temple in Cambodia has become a favorite of creationists, because it looks kinda like a stegosaurus. And, of course, if there's a carving of a stegosaurus on an ancient temple, that supports their belief that dinosaurs and humans once lived together. However, as Brian Switek points out on the Smithsonian blog, two other explanations are more likely: a) The carving is something other than a stegosaurus: If viewed directly, the carving hardly looks…
Posted: Fri Mar 13, 2009.   Comments (19)

World’s Largest Lamb Sculpture — Some guy named Bill Veall claims to have discovered the world's largest rock sculpture. It's somewhere in the Peruvian Andean mountains, and it's in the shape of a "sacred lamb". He says he found it by using satellite imaging techniques to search for ancient shapes and formations. I guess that rules out any possibility he's just seeing what he wants to see. (sarcasm) From Sky News: "Mr Veall, who studies the relationships between astronomy and archaeological monuments, has faced a…
Posted: Tue Dec 09, 2008.   Comments (25)

Longitude Hoax? — The story of the 18th-century contest (sponsored by the British government) to find a solution to the problem of how to determine longitude at sea has received much attention, mostly due to Dava Sobel's best-selling book about it. But Pat Rogers argues in the Times Literary Supplement that Sobel (and just about every other historian who has written about the subject) has fallen for a hoax. Specifically, all of these historians have described one Jeremy Thacker as an inventor who, early…
Posted: Tue Nov 18, 2008.   Comments (7)

The Sun and the Moon — My doctoral dissertation was partially on the subject of the Great Moon Hoax of 1835. I never finished writing the dissertation, but I did spend a LOT of time researching the moon hoax, and I always thought that it would make a great subject for a general-interest book -- using the moon hoax as a window on New York City and America in 1835. Turns out I waited too long. Someone beat me to it. Matthew Goodman has recently come out with The Sun and the Moon: The Remarkable True Account of…
Posted: Thu Nov 06, 2008.   Comments (3)

New Cardiff Giant Book — It's probably not going to be received by the book-buying public with as much enthusiasm as the latest John Grisham thriller, but this is the kind of book that gets me excited. It's a new (and what looks to be very well researched) history of the Cardiff Giant hoax titled A Colossal Hoax: The Giant From Cardiff That Fooled America by Scott Tribble. It's due out at the end of November. A bit pricey, but that's often the case with non-mass-market books. From its blurb: In October 1869,…
Posted: Fri Oct 17, 2008.   Comments (3)

The Museum of Fakes — The BBC reports that a 60-year-old Korean man has been arrested for running "a private museum stuffed with fakes." He bought cheap artifacts from flea markets and then displayed them as ancient treasures. He claimed one of his fakes was a "Koryo Dynasty celadon." All in all, he managed to earn $443,000 from this scam through ticket sales. Two things occur to me: 1) So people are assuming that most museums aren't full of fakes? The dirty little secret of the worlds of art and…
Posted: Wed Oct 01, 2008.   Comments (16)

Benjamin West and the Venetian Secret — The Yale Center for British Art is hosting an exhibition about an obscure 18th-century art hoax (one that I had never heard of before). The exhibition is titled "Benjamin West and the Venetian Secret" -- which makes it sound a bit like a new Harry Potter novel. From Art Knowledge News: In 1796 Benjamin West, the American-born President of the Royal Academy of Arts in London, fell victim to a remarkable fraud. A shadowy figure, Thomas Provis, and his artist daughter, Ann Jemima Provis,…
Posted: Fri Sep 19, 2008.   Comments (1)

Chi-Rho Amulet is a Fake — Researchers have determined that the Chi-Rho Amulet, found in Shepton Mallet in 1990, is a fake. When it was first discovered in a Roman grave eighteen years ago, it was thought to be the earliest Christian artifact ever found in Britain. Local residents were so excited by the discovery that they named an entertainment center and a street after it. But tests indicate that the silver in the amulet is of nineteenth-century origin. Suspicion is focusing on protesters who were opposed to…
Posted: Fri Sep 19, 2008.   Comments (1)

Is Bra-Burning a Myth? — Bra-burning came to symbolize the feminist movement, but according to this article at pressofAtlanticCity.com, the original 1968 bra-burning protest, that first associated bra-burning with feminism, never actually happened. Members of New York Radical Women, upset by the Miss America Pageant's focus on women's physique and seeing an opportunity to publicize their cause, traveled to Atlantic City by bus. They wanted to burn things, as was in vogue then (people mad about other topics -…
Posted: Fri Sep 12, 2008.   Comments (12)

Page 1 of 6 pages  1 2 3 >  Last ›
All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.