“Thanks for letting me know. I’ll take a look. For the record, I no longer work at Newsweek. Apologies for the inconvenience.”—Kristin Hugo email to me (4/1/19)
Is anyone responsible for content at the latest reincarnation of Newsweek? It appears not. No one has responded to an email I sent twice last week to Newsweek principals Jonathan Haworth and Fred Guterl about the magazine’s failure to properly acknowledge me IN THE TEXT as a prime source for its report by Kristin Hugo on archaeology hoaxster James Mellaart.
While the Newsweek piece titled “Famous Archaeologist Faked Ancient Discoveries at 9,000-Year-Old Site in Europe and Elsewhere” is largely a spinoff from Owen Jarus’s report for Live Science about James Mellaart’s forged inscriptions from a Turkish village called Beyköy—without my 2005 online story that was linked-in about Mellaart’s invention of an ancient treasure from another Turkish village called Dorak, the Hugo piece has no grounding.
Following are a half-dozen of my reports on James Mellaart and Dorak (partial list).
Hugo, with two degrees in journalism, surely must know that she needs to give credit where credit is due. However, a week after emailing her, and separately, Haworth and Guterl—as mentioned, I am still waiting for a response to my request for story correction.
I’ve advised Newsweek’s corrections robot as well—which has similarly failed to follow up.
FOR THE RECORD: I was the first journalist to actually headline Mellaart’s Dorak Treasure a hoax: “Deeper into the Dorak Treasure Hoax.” The story, syndicated by Scoop Media, is an interview I did with Dorak Affair book authors Ken Pearson and Patricia Connor at their home in London. Yes, actual leg work. . .
The story ran following my 2005 three-part series on Dorak, also syndicated by Scoop. The series grew out of an article about antiquities dealer/smuggler/master-of-fakes Aydin Dikmen, a feature I wrote almost 30 years ago for Connoisseur with Turkish journalist Özgen Acar, whose roots are in the French Connection investigation and repatriation of the Lydian Hoard to Turkey. At the time, Acar suspected that Aydin Dikmen was Mellaart’s inspiration for Anna Papastrati, a Greek woman Mellaart said was the Dorak Treasure’s owner.
Connoisseur ceased operations before our article could go to press so we were free to market it elsewhere.
I repackaged the Connoisseur story and submitted it to the Financial Times in London in 1992. JDF Jones, the FT’s then-arts & literary editor, rejected it, saying it would “fall fowl of the British libel laws”. Jones told me by phone the problem was that Mellaart was regarded in Britain as a brilliant archaeologist.
I next carved out the Mellaart story and sent it to The Guardian. The Guardian bought the article, but then-editor Alan Rusbridger ultimately killed it. Rusbridger some years later—with more clout as the paper’s editor-in-chief—oversaw its newsbreaking coverage of Edward Snowden.
I hand-carried the article to the New York Times, which rejected it too—Times science editor John Noble Wilford advising by phone that running an exposé would require retelling the Dorak story.
In the 2005 series—which was fearlessly supported by Scoop publisher Alastair Thompson—I wrote that while examining James Mellaart’s correspondence from the late 1950s I noticed the capital letter “I” instead of “1” was used to date both Mellaart’s letters as well as a letter Mellaart claimed was sent to him by Anna Papastrati. An effect, I learned, that was not normal outside Oxford-Cambridge scholarly circles.
I also interviewed archaeologist David Stronach for the series that ran in Scoop. Stronach was a colleague of James Mellaart in the 50s and 60s and ran the British School of Persian Studies in Tehran. Mellaart’s base in those days was at the British Institute of Archaeology in Ankara, Turkey.
Stronach told me during our 2005 phone conversation that Dorak was Jimmy’s “dream-like episode” and said that he had “doubts” about the “whole [Dorak] enterprise”. Stronach and Mellaart, as I also noted in the series, were friends of mystery writer Agatha Christie and her husband, archaeologist Max Mallowan.
Both The Times of London and The Telegraph cited my reporting on Dorak in 2012 at the time of Mellaart’s death.
Unfortunately, the same head-in-the-sand tactic employed by the mainstream media to suppress the story of the Dorak hoax is now dangerously in evidence in its failure to report the end of the Darwin era of science.