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GSL Library Event - F is for Fake - Johann Beringer

06 April 2017
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Event type:
Evening meeting
Organised by:
Geological Society Library
Geological Society, Burlington House, Piccadilly
Event status:

The Geological Society Library is delighted to present our latest event, ‘F is for Fake’, on Thursday 6 April 2017.  This special evening, held just after April Fool’s Day, celebrates two of history’s most infamous geological hoaxes.

“Fossil fraud on a massive scale: the 'lying stones' of Johann Beringer”, a talk by Paul Taylor, Natural History Museum.

In 1726, Dr Johann Bartholomew Adam Beringer (1667 - 1740), eminent senior professor and Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Würzburg in Germany, published his now notorious ‘Lithographiae Wirceburgensis’, a heavily illustrated dissertation on the extraordinary Lügensteine (lying stones) he had acquired the previous year.

These hundreds of pieces of local Muschelkalk limestone appeared to depict a bewildering variety of stylized animals, insects and plants, as well as celestial bodies and letters resembling Hebrew script all petrified in stone.  Dr Beringer regarded the figured stones as unique and unlike other fossils, and even suggested various possibilities for their ‘natural’ origin including the Biblical Flood. 

However within a year of his publication Beringer acknowledged that the stones had in fact been carved and he was an unwitting victim of a fraud. But who were the fraudsters and how did they engineer such a massive deception?

Following the talk will be the opportunity to view the Library’s latest exhibition which brings together examples of Beringer’s Lügensteine kindly lent by the Oxford University Museum of Natural History and the Natural History Museum.


6.00 - 7.00pm


Tickets cost £6 and can be booked by phone on 020 7432 0999.

On the same evening

On the same evening, 7.30 - 8.30pm, we present “Piltdown Man and Charles Dawson’s career in forgery”, a talk by David Bate, British Geological Survey.

This event can be booked separately here or by phone on 020 7432 0999

Registration rates

£ 6.00
£ 6.00


Geolsoc Contact

The Geological Society Library

The Geological Society Library
Burlington House

Tel: 02074320999