The prized ob­jects in the Mu­seum of the Bi­ble have been re­moved

History Revealed - - REWIND -

Five frag­ments from the Dead Sea Scrolls col­lec­tion at the Mu­seum of the Bi­ble in Wash­ing­ton, DC, have been proven to be forg­eries.

The Dead Sea Scrolls – a col­lec­tion of re­li­gious manuscripts – were found in caves on the shore of the Dead Sea, in what is now the West Bank. Be­tween 1947 and 1956, more than 800 pa­pyrus and leather doc­u­ments were found in clay jars. Be­lieved to be writ­ten by mem­bers of a Jewish com­mu­nity liv­ing in the area be­tween 150 BC and AD 70, they con­tain the old­est sur­viv­ing sources of the He­brew Bi­ble, as well as writ­ings on Jewish his­tory.

The ma­jor­ity of the frag­ments are in the care of the Is­raeli Gov­ern­ment, but a few oth­ers are housed in mu­se­ums across the world. The Mu­seum of the Bi­ble holds 16 frag­ments – some of the mu­seum’s most prized items – but five have now been ex­posed as fakes. Doubts had been raised over their au­then­tic­ity, so they were sent to be tested by ex­perts in Germany us­ing X-ray and ma­te­rial anal­y­sis – which has now re­vealed “char­ac­ter­is­tics in­con­sis­tent with an­cient ori­gin”. They’ve since been re­moved from the mu­seum and re­placed by other pieces of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

It’s not the first con­tro­versy to sur­round the mu­seum – months be­fore its grand open­ing in 2017, its chair­man, Steve Green, was caught up in a smug­gling scan­dal. A US Gov­ern­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tion con­cluded in 2017 found more than 5,500 arte­facts im­ported by Hobby Lobby – a chain of arts and crafts stores of which Green is also pres­i­dent – had been smug­gled from Iraq. Hobby Lobby set­tled, for­feit­ing the arte­facts, while the Mu­seum of the Bi­ble re­leased a state­ment deny­ing that any of the items were bound for its col­lec­tion.

The Dead Sea Scroll frag­ments on dis­play in the Mu­seum of the Bi­ble IN­SET: An Is­rael An­tiq­ui­ties Au­thor­ity worker re­stores a scroll in Jerusalem

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