Sarah Bradford

A typically Tuscan joke

There is something irresistible about forgers, cocking a snook as they do at their target establishments — in this case the formidable intellectual and historical talents of Baroque (hardly Renaissance as the title claims) Rome, a circle which included the towering figure of the polymath Athanasius Kircher. What makes this case even more piquant is that the forger was a 19-year-old Tuscan nobleman, Curzio Inghirami, and the forged manuscripts posing as important Etruscan relics were wrapped in his 13-year-old sister’s hair.

The discovery in November 1634 of these odd capsules known...

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