All Dead Sea Scroll Fragments in the Museum of the Bible are Fake

All Dead Sea Scroll Fragments in the Museum of the Bible are Fake March 16, 2020

The Dead Sea Scrolls (also Qumran Caves Scrolls) are ancient Jewish religious manuscripts found in the Qumran Caves in the Judaean Desert, near Ein Feshkha on the northern shore of the Dead Sea in the West Bank, Palestine.[1] Scholarly consensus dates these scrolls from the last three centuries BCE and the first century CE.[2] The texts have great historical, religious, and linguistic significance because they include the second-oldest known surviving manuscripts of works later included in the Hebrew Bible canon, along with deuterocanonical and extra-biblical manuscripts which preserve evidence of the diversity of religious thought in late Second Temple Judaism. Almost all of the Dead Sea Scrolls are currently in the collection of the Government of the State of Israel, with ownership disputed with Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, and they are housed in the Shrine of the Book on the grounds of the Israel Museum.

Many thousands of written fragments have been discovered in the Dead Sea area. They represent the remnants of larger manuscripts damaged by natural causes or through human interference, with the vast majority holding only small scraps of text. However, a small number of well-preserved, almost intact manuscripts have survived – fewer than a dozen among those from the Qumran Caves.[2] Researchers have assembled a collection of 981 different manuscripts – discovered in 1946/47 and in 1956 – from 11 caves.[3] The 11 Qumran Caves lie in the immediate vicinity of the Hellenistic-period Jewish settlement at Khirbet Qumran in the eastern Judaean Desert, in the West Bank. [Source – Wiki]

Now, countless suspected forgeries (always rumoured) have been found to be exactly that, and the conclusions are far-reaching:

When Steve Green paid millions of dollars from his family fortune for 16 fragments of the ancient Dead Sea Scrolls, it seemed the perfect addition to their new Museum of the Bible in Washington DC.

But now experts have confirmed what has long been suspected: the artifacts proudly displayed in the nation’s capital by the owners of the Hobby Lobby chain of stores are not part of one of the most significant archaeological finds of all time.

They are worthless forgeries, probably made from old shoe leather.

Confirmation of the hoax came in a report published online by a team of five art fraud investigators, after a two-day conference at the museum focusing on the comprehensive testing of the supposed scroll fragments was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The experts spent six months analyzing each fragment, concluding a study born from 2017 revelations that the lucrative international trade in Dead Sea Scroll pieces was awash in suspected forgeries and indications that at least five pieces bought by Green, the museum’s chairman, for an undisclosed amount ahead of its opening that year, were fake.

“After an exhaustive review of all the imaging and scientific analysis results, it is evident that none of the textual fragments in [the] Museum of the Bible’s Dead Sea Scroll collection are authentic,” wrote Colette Loll, founder and director of Art Fraud Insights, the Washington company contracted to examine them.

“Moreover, each exhibit’s characteristics that suggest they are deliberate forgeries created in the 20th century with the intent to mimic authentic Dead Sea Scroll fragments.”

The investigators outlined how they believe the deception was perpetrated and a succession of Biblical scholars and the museum’s curators fooled. The forgers, they suggest, used Roman-era leather, possibly from boots or sandals, to imitate parchment, and attempted to recreate the handwriting of ancient Hebrew scribes.

Using microscopes and a variety of other scientific techniques including chemical analysis, the team found inconsistencies such as the presence of a shiny coating suspected to be animal glue, which wouldn’t have existed at the time, and clues in the spread, position and pooling of ink.

There was also evidence that writing was added after attempts were made to artificially age the surface.

This is not to invalidate the authenticity of those original scrolls found in the 1940s, but those found post-2002 are all uniformly deemed forgeries.

 


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