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The Annual Adrian Heyworth-Smith Memorial Lecture
In the first edition of his de re Diplomatica published in 1681, Jean Mabillon included in the section on "Roman scripts of the earliest age" a papyrus in a highly cursive script which claimed to be the will of Julius Caesar. Mabillon had begun the de re Diplomatica, which stands at the foundation of Latin palaeography, with the express intent of detecting medieval forgeries, and soon realised that the papyrus – or at least its title – was also fake. This paper traces Mabillon's detection of the crime and its perpetrator, locating this episode within the development of papyrology, palaeography, and criteria for the authentication of documents.