Image Credit: wikimedia/Museum of the Bible

FaithZette

Five Dead Sea Scroll Fragments Found to Be Fake

Tests exposed the likely forgeries — museum stresses 'opportunity to educate the public' on verification

The Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., will no longer display five of its 16 Dead Sea Scroll (DSS) fragments.

That’s because third-party analysis of the artifacts revealed recently these are likely forgeries, the museum announced in a statement on Monday.

“Though we had hoped the testing would render different results, this is an opportunity to educate the public on the importance of verifying the authenticity of rare biblical artifacts, the elaborate testing process undertaken, and our commitment to transparency,” Jeffrey Kloha, Ph.D., chief curatorial officer for Museum of the Bible, said in the statement.

“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.”

The Oklahoma-based Green family — owners of the Hobby Lobby chain of craft stores — acquired and donated the DSS fragments to the $500 million museum, the Associated Press noted.

Since the museum opened its doors less than a year ago, the signage accompanying the collection of displayed fragments noted some scholars’ concerns about their authenticity.

The museum has replaced the five fragments in question with three others, and will continue to display labeling indicating that research will be conducted to determine the authenticity of those replacements.

The decision to remove the fragments from display was based, in part, on conclusions drawn from a battery of tests conducted by German-based Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM). The group found that characteristics of the fragments are not consistent with ancient origin.

The institute’s analysis was not the first to cast doubt on the authenticity of the museum’s fragments, however.

The results of testing in April 2017, which included 3D digital microscopy, scanning X-ray fluorescence, and energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, yielded similar suspicions.

Analyses by Dr. Kipp Davis of Trinity Western University, published in October 2017, “managed to confirm upon a preponderance of different streams of evidence the high probability that at least seven fragments in the museum’s Dead Sea Scrolls collection are modern forgeries,” according to the museum’s statement.

Among the 20th century’s greatest archaeological discoveries, the DSS were found by teenaged Bedouin shepherds in 1947 in caves along the northwest shore of the Dead Sea in what is now known as the West Bank, as Religion News explained.

The manuscripts, found in clay jars in the caves, are the oldest known copies of biblical works.

With the exception of the book of Esther, every book of the Hebrew Bible is represented, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority.

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Michele Blood is a Flemington, New Jersey-based freelance writer and a regular contributor to LifeZette.