Art experts were left red-faced yesterday after it emerged they had been the victims of an elaborate hoax.
Boffins from London's prestigious Courtauld Institute had spent three years cleaning up what they assumed were 2,000-year-old wall paintings at Petra, in Jordan.
But yesterday street artist, Lop-sided Dave, long-time collaborator of Banksy, admitted they were his work.
"Yup. I did'em, that's right. I went out there on holiday a five years ago, hid out in these caves and painted the pictures. Then I covered them with muck and stuff and waited to see what happened."
This is highly embarrassing for the Courtauld who had stated that the works were very impressive examples of Nabataean art and that they were as good as, if not better than, some of the paintings found at other ancient sites, such as Herculaneum, near Naples.
Now, the art world is asking if other works are merely hoaxes.
"This is all very upsetting," said one museum insider. "Now we have to revisit all the famous ancient art sites and ask ourselves if they are genuine. This is going to take a lot of time and foreign travel.
"It's a rotten job, but someone has to do it."