An Awkward and Insulting Letter

Of all the awkward opinions we have received, regarding the Mansoor artifacts, none is more insolent and insulting than a letter received from a certain Prof. PHILIPPE DERCHAIN of the University of Cologne. In his disrespectful letter, Professor Derchain makes disparaging remarks about the late Dr. Etienne Drioton, Dr. Zaki Iskandar, former Director of the Egyptian Museum Research Laboratory, Dr. Otto Karl Bach, former Director of The Denver Art Museum and Dr. Sami Gabra, a highly respected Egyptian Egyptologist. We are at a loss explaining this man’s arrogance: if he has a dispute with the Mansoors’ artifacts, fine; but why belittle such men as Drioton – a giant of Egyptology- Gabra, Iskandar and Bach !

He then proceeds to write: " After having looked at the photographs of the objects that you have reproduced, I am convinced that Messrs. Cooney and Muller are right". Is this reasoning real? Like Dr. Muller, he believes in judging artifacts from photographs! And like Dr. Muller he is also a " scientist ", who does not believe in the value of " good " science. He suggests that:" the petrographic analyses…that you have made prove nothing. By such means, one can determine the nature of the material and nothing more. An intelligent forger- and yours is, to be sure – naturally chooses his stones with care. Nothing prevents him from recuperating antique blocks on the sites to utilize them." Say, again, Professor Derchain! Do you mean a clever forger can go to an ancient site, pick up an ancient stone that is already weathered, take it home and carve it? First, how would he know that that stone is ancient? And, if by chance it is, wouldn’t the weathered surface disappear with the shaping of the artifact and a new surface arise? Please Prof. Derchain, tell us you are not serious.

The above clearly tells us that one should leave science to qualified scientists. The Louvre Museum (cf. Dr. Noblecourt) consults its scientists before it adds to its collection. The Gregorian Museum does the same (cf. Msgr. Nolli). Another one who believes in the value of science is Mr. Earl A. Powell, formerly of the Los Angeles County Museum and the National Gallery. In a December 1994 ARTnews article describing the debate regarding a painting by Poussin", The Holy Family ", Director Earl A. Powell explained " that the process requires further TECHNICAL AND SCIENTIFIC STUDIES, such as paint and chemical analyses". Powell adds that he hopes all studies can be completed by the end of the year, at which time the Museum will make a recommendation to " downgrade" its Holy Family before the Board of Trustees."

For the full text of Prof. Derchain’s poor taste letter, see Ch. 17 of " The Scandal of the Century " at This is a " must read ", since it may explain Derchain’s animosity towards the late Dr. Drioton. You see, Dr. Drioton was asked in his retirement, to assist the University of Liege with Derchain’s thesis ! It is possible that Drioton " failed " Derchain, hence his animosity. Does anyone know if Derchain made the grade the first time around? It sure doesn’t sound like it.

To get an explanation of Prof. Derchain’s theory about " ancient stones " write him at < >. Please also ask him to apologize for the insolent remarks, regarding the above named scholars. We would appreciate a copy of his answer.

NOTE: We believe that the above address for Prof. Derchain is the current one. If it is not we apologize to the reader.


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