Museum of the Bible Says 5 Dead Sea Scroll Fragments Are Fake

Nellie Chapman
October 23, 2018

At least five of the 16 "Dead Sea Scroll" fragments in the Museum of the Bible are fakes, an independent study has concluded.

After CNN a year ago raised questions about the artifacts' authenticity, scholars tested the fragments and found that they "show characteristics inconsistent with ancient origin and therefore will no longer be displayed at the museum".

Monday's revelations are not the first time the Greens have courted controversy with their artifacts collection.

Hobby Lobby had been investigated by the Federal government for importing ancient Mesopotamian artifacts to the US.

In April past year the museum sent five of its 16 Dead Sea Scroll pieces to Germany's Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM) for testing after previous studies questioned their authenticity.

"In light of the results of the three research projects, the museum has removed these fragments from display, replacing them with three other fragments that will be on exhibit pending further scientific analysis and scholarly research", it said, in its statement.

On the website, "The Lying Pen of Scribes", scholars and scientists have identified more than 70 purported Dead Sea Scroll fragments that have surfaced on the antiquities market since 2002.

Last year, Mr Green's company the Hobby Lobby paid a $3m fine (£2.3m) and returned thousands of items after the US Department of Justice accused it of smuggling artefacts from Iraq.

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Scholars and media reports raised questions about the museum's Dead Sea Scroll fragments previous year in the run up to the Green family's November opening of the $500 million museum.

"This is part of our ongoing commitment to making sure we're adhering to all legal and museum standards, that our displays are accurate, that when we have information, we make it available", said Jeff Kloha, chief curatorial officer.

Also eagerly buying up fragments was the Green family - evangelical Oklahoma billionaires who run the Hobby Lobby chain of craft stores and who famously sued the Obama administration on religious grounds, saying they didn't want to pay to provide their employees access to the morning-after pill or intrauterine devices.

Among those who had raised awareness of the forged fragments is paleographer Dr. Kipp Davis, a research fellow at Trinity Western University and associate of the Dead Sea Scrolls Institute at TWU.

Now the museum has been forced to admit a painful truth: technical analysis by a team of German scholars has revealed that at least five of the museum's 16 scroll fragments are apparent forgeries.

Far from ignoring the forgery assertions, the Museum of the Bible sponsored Davis's research and that of other scholars.

The Scrolls were found in 1947 in caves by the Dead Sea east of Jerusalem, and are hailed as one of the most important archaeological discoveries of the 20th century, the Daily Mail reports, because they are "the earliest copies of the Hebrew Bible ever found, and the oldest written evidence of the roots of Judaism and Christianity in the Holy Land". Ninety percent of those are fake, said Arstein Justnes, a professor of biblical studies at the University of Agder in Norway, including the Museum of the Bible's. At the time, they were deeply involved in the antiquities trade, amassing a collection of some 40,000 artifacts.

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