Museum of the Bible finds fragments were forged
by Kiley Crossland
Posted 10/23/18, 11:57 am
The Museum of the Bible on Monday said it was removing five Dead Sea Scroll fragments from display after tests found they were forgeries. Third-party analysis performed by a German-based company found five of the museum’s 16 fragments showed “characteristics inconsistent with ancient origin,” according to a statement by the museum. Earlier studies raised questions about the fragments’ authenticity.
Opened in November 2017 two blocks off the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the $500 million museum is one of the largest private Biblical collections open to the public. The museum’s chairman and major backer, Hobby Lobby CEO Steve Green, purchased and donated much of the collection on exhibit, including the Dead Sea Scroll fragments. The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of Old Testament and other Jewish writings found in caves in Israel and believed to date back to the last few centuries before the birth of Jesus and the first century afterward.
The announcement comes a year after a judge in New York forced the museum to forfeit 3,500 Iraqi clay tablets reportedly smuggled into the United States by Israeli dealers. The origin of the items is still unclear, but there have been heightened concerns recently over the acquisition of artifacts because terrorist groups such as Islamic State (ISIS) are known to fund themselves by looting and selling antiquities. The Museum of the Bible agreed to pay $3 million in fines as part of a legal settlement. The smuggled items were returned to Iraq earlier this year.
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