Washington Bible museum says 5 of its Dead Sea Scrolls are fake

Lester Mason
October 23, 2018

Five artifacts thought to be part of the Dead Sea Scrolls are fake and will not be displayed anymore, the Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC has announced, CNN reported on Monday.

In a statement the Museum of the Bible said it had sent the five fragments to Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (Bam) for a series of advance tests, including material analysis and x-ray exams, which compounded previous research that drew the fragment's authenticity into question.

The fragments will no longer be displayed at the Washington D.C. -based museum.

Before the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered 70 years ago, the earliest and most complete version of the Hebrew Bible was from the 9th century.

The Museum of the Bible says it had the independent testing done on 16 Dead Sea Scrolls in its collection. Barely one year in, five fragments have been found to be probable forgeries.

"As an educational institution entrusted with cultural heritage, the museum upholds and adheres to all museum and ethical guidelines on collection care, research and display", he said. It plans to replace them with three other fragments pending "further scientific analysis and scholarly research".

But, some scholars have been raising questions about supposed Dead Sea Scroll fragments for years, saying unscrupulous antiquities dealers are preying on evangelicals like the Greens, making millions in the process.

An Oct. 22 press release from the museum stated that the ongoing research and skepticism about the fragments' authenticity was reflected in the exhibit labels for the five fragments that were on display.

In a separate research project, Davis studied the fragments and published his results, suggesting that at least seven of the fragments were likely forgeries, in the academic journal Dead Sea Discoveries in October 2017. But around 2002, a wave of new fragments began mysteriously appearing on the market, despite skepticism from Biblical scholars.

A controversy was swirling around the scrolls' authenticity before the Museum of the Bible opened its doors in November 2017.

Kipp Davis, of Trinity Western University, said he "focused primarily on two aspects of Museum of the Bible's fragments: scribal quality and technique in the penning of the texts", along with the "physical composition and current state of the manuscript media".

Scientists have expressed concern that numerous scroll fragments being sold are fakes. He said in some cases letters are oddly shaped or not straight, or they appear to conform to the edge of the fragments and other "bizarre-looking features".

Between 2009 and 2014, Steve Green, the owner of Hobby Lobby, purchased up to 16 fragments in the name of the company.

Just months before the museum opened the company was forced to pay a $3 million settlement and give up 5,500 artifacts - including ancient clay cuneiform tablets from Iraq - that the US Justice Department said were illegally imported.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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