But now, the Washington, D.C. museum has confirmed a bitter truth about the fragments’ authenticity. “There are many scrolls fragments that we don’t know how to connect, and if we connect wrong pieces together it can change dramatically the interpretation of any scroll,” said geneticist Oded Rechavi of Tel Aviv University, who led the effort. Washington, D.C.On the fourth floor of the Museum of … “When you have a deceiver and a believer, it’s an intimate dance,” Loll says. How did all these world experts miss this?”. In late 2018, the museum announced the results to the world: All five tested fragments were probably modern forgeries. Investigator Abigail Quandt, the head of book and paper conservation at Baltimore's Walters Art Museum, examines a fragment of the Book of Genesis for any peculiar surface features. Monday, March 16, 2020. Even before the new report, some scholars believed that most to all of the post-2002 fragments were modern fakes. Archaeologists initially thought the scrolls were the product of scribes living in the Qumran community. “In the past, when I told the Bedouin that a piece was worthless because it had no writing, I inadvertently suggested how to make it valuable,” he says. One of the fragments has a row of what look like artificially made holes, somewhat similar to those found in Roman-era shoes. On many of the pieces, suspiciously shiny ink pools in cracks and waterfalls off of torn edges that wouldn’t have been present when the leather was new. Charlesworth also says he has seen pieces of blank, ancient leather in circulation. “The fact that the scrolls that are most divergent textually are also made of a different animal species is indicative that they originate at a different provenance.”. On the fourth floor of the Museum of the Bible, a sweeping permanent exhibit tells the story of how the ancient scripture became the world’s most popular book. “How could these be phony? In 2016, leading biblical scholars published a book on the Museum of the Bible’s fragments, dating them to the time of the Dead Sea Scrolls. “The Dead Sea Scrolls are inarguably the most important biblical discovery of the last century,” Kloha says. Not only would the Museum of the Bible have no say on the team’s findings, her report would be final—and would have to be released to the public. The treatment not only stabilized the leather and smoothed out the writing surface, but it also mimicked a signature, glue-like feature of the real Dead Sea Scrolls. Another appeared to have a Greek letter alpha where a 1930s reference Hebrew Bible used an alpha to flag a footnote. The majority of the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in jars found inside a series of 11 caves near an archaeological site called Qumran on the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea in the late … Green and museum officials have long maintained that they received poor advice at the time of the purchases and that they assembled their collection in good faith. Ferrini eventually went bankrupt from Noah's and others' lawsuits. “This will allow us to use different approaches to the puzzle,” she adds. And how had the forgers managed to fool the world’s leading Dead Sea Scroll scholars and the Museum of the Bible? The Museum of the Bible agreed to the terms. “We’re victims—we’re victims of misrepresentation, we’re victims of fraud.”. All rights reserved. The report may also lead to a reevaluation of Dead Sea Scrolls Fragments in the Museum Collection, the 2016 book that introduced the museum’s fragments to the scholarly community. “The Museum of the Bible is trying to be as transparent as possible,” says CEO Harry Hargrave. The conventional wisdom is that a breakaway Jewish sect called … As religious documents, a wave of controversy surrounds the Dead Sea Scrolls. Despite being purchased at four different times from four different people, the report finds that all 16 of the Museum of the Bible’s Dead Sea Scroll fragments were forged the same way—which strongly suggests that the forged fragments share a common source. It held some 600 manuscripts, spread among more than … Dead Sea The Dead Sea is a large lake that borders Israel, Jordan, and the West Bank. “It’s no wonder that the scholars were thinking these were untrained scribes, because they were really struggling to form these characters and keep their pens under control.”. The element’s distribution strongly hinted that the leather had been treated with lime to chemically remove its hair. “Once one or two of the fragments were fake, you know all of them probably are, because they come from the same sources, and they look basically the same,” says Årstein Justnes, a researcher at Norway’s University of Agder whose Lying Pen of Scribes project tracks the post-2002 fragments. After millennia of exposure, collagen in the ancient parchment broke down to form gelatin, which hardened to give some parts of authentic fragments a gummy, glue-soaked appearance. “All the material has documentation proving that the documents were exported previously under relevant antiquities laws,” Schiffman said on Friday. Even more detailed chemical analyses led by Buffalo State College conservation scientist Aaron Shugar raised additional red flags. Starting in 2009, Green and Hobby Lobby spent a fortune buying up biblical manuscripts and artifacts to seed what would become the Museum of the Bible’s collection. In 2017, Kloha joined the museum to oversee its collections, and in November 2019, the museum brought in Hargrave, who helped direct the museum’s construction, to serve as its third CEO in two years. They were hidden in jars in caves near Qumran, home to members of an ascetic Jewish sect called the Essenes. Now a team of Israeli, Swedish, and American researchers has applied advanced genetic testing to the material, a parchment made from animal skins. “I believe that they’ve made a number of attempts in recent years to right the ship. The ancient texts have helped historians discover much about ancient Jewish … By the time their report was finalized in November 2019, the researchers were unanimous. ... National Geographic reported. “If it is confirmed that all fragments are forged, the volume will be retracted and no longer offered for sale,” Brill said in a statement. But after another look at a picture of the fragment, Charlesworth voiced fresh skepticism. “There’s true penitence there.”, 'Dead Sea Scrolls' at the Museum of the Bible are all forgeries, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/history/2020/03/museum-of-the-bible-dead-sea-scrolls-forgeries.html, the “post-2002” Dead Sea Scroll fragments, and a new Israeli law on the antiquities trade, a book on the Museum of the Bible’s fragments, a 1,700-year-old papyrus piece of the Gospel of John, Dead Sea Scrolls Fragments in the Museum Collection, to return 5,500 illegally imported clay tablets. and the first century A.D., were discovered between 1947 and 1956 in 11 caves near Khirbat Qumran in the West Bank, on the … Using small samples extracted from a pair of scroll fragments, for example, the team determined that two pieces long thought to be part of one manuscript from the biblical book of Jeremiah were in fact unrelated, as one was made from sheep hide, the other from cow hide. The Mystery of National Geographic’s “Dead Sea Scrolls Mystery Solved?” An Open Letter to the Geographic It is always refreshing to read new proposals from scholars about the origin of the Dead Sea Scrolls… First, the team concluded that the fragments were seemingly made of the wrong material. One tantalizing possibility is that they come from ancient leather shoes or sandals. The team’s best guess is that the leather itself is ancient, recovered from scraps found in the Judean desert or elsewhere. The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered by Bedouin shepherds in the 1940s, in caves in Qumran. Leading biblical scholar Emanuel Tov, one of the volume’s main editors, reviewed the new report for National Geographic and provided the following statement: I will not say that there are no unauthentic fragments among the MOB fragments, but in my view, their inauthenticity as a whole has still not been proven beyond doubt. In addition, testing led by Jennifer Mass, the president of Scientific Analysis of Fine Art, showed that the forger soaked the fragments in an amber-colored concoction, most likely an animal-skin glue. How could these be fraudulent?” Noah says. Researchers extracted animal DNA from 2,000-year-old fragments, including these from the book of Isaiah in the Hebrew Bible. In 2018, the Museum of the Bible determined that a manuscript in its collection sold several times beforehand had in fact been stolen from the University of Athens in 1991. On others, the forgers’ brushstrokes clearly overlie the ancient leather’s bumpy mineral crust. The Men Who Hid the Dead Sea Scrolls: Ancient Manuscripts Found in Judaean Caves Open a New World to Biblical ScholarshipBiblical scholars revel in the 1947 discovery of detailed 2, 000- year- old … All 16 fragments appeared to be modern forgeries. “You don’t need as much of a knowledge of the materials as you need a knowledge of the marketplace.”. “Honestly, I’ve never worked with a museum that was so up-front,” Loll says. The Isaiah Scroll, designated 1Qlsa a and also known as the Great Isaiah Scroll, is one of the seven Dead Sea Scrolls that were first discovered by Bedouin shepherds in 1946 from Qumran Cave 1. Researchers have spent decades trying to laboriously piece together the 2,000-year-old fragments, most of which were discovered in the 1940s and 1950s in 11 caves near a site called Qumran on the shore of the Dead Sea. In late 2003, Noah sued Ferrini, alleging that Ferrini had embezzled funds related to Noah's attempt to buy a 1,700-year-old papyrus piece of the Gospel of John for a traveling exhibit he was curating. Kloha and Hargrave add that the museum is considering a revision of its Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit to focus on how researchers uncovered the forgery. "Our collective goal was to be helpful to the scholars who are working on Dead Sea Scrolls," she says. Records provided by Nat Des Marais, Sharpe’s former business partner, say that Dead Sea Scrolls scholar James Charlesworth, who retired from the Princeton Theological Seminary in 2019, helped validate the Genesis fragment’s authenticity. “I was hoping to have one real [fragment], because then you could show, Okay, here’s a real one, here’s a fake, can you tell the difference?” Kloha says. Dead Sea Scrolls are examined in this BBC documentary.BBC all rights reserved. The Dead Sea Scrolls are the oldest biblical texts ever found. This doubt is due to the fact that similar testing has not been done on undisputed Dead Sea Scroll manuscripts in order to provide a base line for comparison, including the fragments from the Judean Desert sites that are later than Qumran. “I feel kind of sick,” he says. The scrolls—written between the second century B.C. Researchers carefully examined the surfaces of all 16 fragments under high magnification—all while … New technologies help scientists decipher the ancient Dead Sea Scrolls and newly surfaced fragments. The museum promptly returned the artifact to Greece. But what excites scholars the most is the prospect of using ancient DNA to match the bewildering bits and pieces, some of which contain only a few letters. “The material is degraded, it’s so brittle, so inflexible,” says team member Abigail Quandt, the head of book and paper conservation at Baltimore’s Walters Art Museum. In the fallout, Noah acquired two fragments in Ferrini's possession that belonged to the Kandos: a tiny portion of the Book of Jeremiah, and a small fragment of rabbinic commentary about the Book of Genesis. It was accompanied by a UCLA Today story by Meg Sullivan and an article entitled, “Dead Sea Scrolls Mystery Solved?” by Ker Than on National Geographic … However, the identity of the forger or forgers remains unknown. “Analysis of the text found on these Jeremiah pieces suggests that they not only belong to different scrolls, they also represent different versions of the prophetic book,” said Noam Mizrahi, a biblical scholar at Tel Aviv University. The Museum of the Bible houses 16 purported Dead Sea Scroll fragments, including this piece of the Book of Genesis. It’s possible that the fragments’ sellers were themselves duped when they originally acquired the pieces from other dealers or collectors. “And this study is just the start.”, Photograph courtesy Shai Halevi, the Israel Antiquities Authority, Ancient DNA offers clues to physical origins of Dead Sea Scrolls, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/history/2020/06/ancient-dna-offers-clues-physical-origins-dead-sea-scrolls.html, controversial excavations under Jerusalem. All but two of the 26 fragments tested were made from sheep hide. The real Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest known surviving copies of the Hebrew Bible, were first rediscovered 1947. Years later, Kando directly sold to Sharpe the larger Genesis fragment that made its way to the Museum of the Bible. However, the landscape suddenly shifted around 2002, as antiquities dealers and biblical scholars started to unveil snippets of biblical text that looked like long-lost pieces of the Dead Sea Scrolls. © 1996-2015 National Geographic Society, © 2015- By decade’s end, the trickle of post-2002 fragments turned into a flood of at least 70 pieces. In 2019, museum officials announced that 11 papyrus fragments in its collection had been sold to Hobby Lobby by Oxford professor Dirk Obbink, who is accused of stealing the fragments from a papyrus collection he oversaw. Other such fragments reside at academic institutions around the world, such as California’s Azusa Pacific University and Texas’s Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. To better understand the fragments' surface features, researchers photographed the pieces under many different wavelengths of light, a technique called multispectral imaging. Neither did collector Andrew Stimer, who sold four of the fragments to Green in 2014. Noah and Sharpe both say that leading scholars threw their support behind the fragments they bought. Decoding the Dead Sea Scrolls and Cain and Abel will … Since its 2017 opening, the Museum of the Bible has funded research into the pieces and sent off five fragments to Germany’s Federal Institute for Materials Research for testing. Now, a humbled Museum of the Bible is working to reset its relationship with scholars and the public. A warmly lit sanctum at the exhibit’s heart reveals some of the museum’s most prized possessions: fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls, ancient texts that include the oldest known surviving copies of the Hebrew Bible. The Kandos' many alleged connections to the forged fragments have not escaped scholars' attention. To find out more about its fragments, the Museum of the Bible reached out to Loll and her company, Art Fraud Insights, in February 2019 and charged her with conducting a thorough physical and chemical investigation of all 16 pieces. According to Noah, the transaction is how Kando and Sharpe met. On Friday, independent researchers funded by the Museum of the Bible announced that all 16 of the museum’s Dead Sea Scroll fragments are modern forgeries that duped outside collectors, the museum’s founder, and some of the world’s leading biblical scholars. Most of the 100,000 real Dead Sea Scroll fragments lie in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, and the report does not question their authenticity. “That’s really the story. After getting her master’s in art history at George Washington University, Loll went on to study international art crime, run forgery investigations, and train federal agents on matters of cultural heritage. Bookseller Craig Lampe, who sold Green four fragments in 2009, did not respond to requests for comment sent through his business partner. Pnina Shor, who served as head of the Israeli Antiquities Authority’s Dead Sea Scrolls unit for the past decade, said that the ancient DNA work will complement efforts at Israeli and German universities to create computer algorithms that can find each fragment’s proper place. Mar 30,2020 | artfraud | Comments 0. Witness as a new clue to the … The report expects us to conclude that abnormalities abound without demonstrating what is normal. Nearly all the authentic Dead Sea Scrolls fragments are made of tanned or lightly tanned parchment, but at least 15 of the Museum of the Bible’s fragments were made of leather, which is thicker, bumpier, and more fibrous. Christopher Rollston, a specialist on Semitic texts at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., welcomes the effort to set things right. Sharpe was first introduced to the world of Dead Sea Scrolls by William Noah, a Tennessee-based physician and exhibit curator, because of a lawsuit involving the late manuscript dealer Bruce Ferrini. Sponsored by MagellanTV - a new streaming service with 2,000+ documentaries worth watching. Posted By: MissMolly, 3/14/2020 3:22:31 AM Washington, D.C.On the … Through the 1950s, a Bethlehem-based antiquities dealer named Khalil Iskander Shahin, better known as Kando, acquired many fragments from local Bedouin and sold them to collectors around the world. Most damningly, careful microscopic analysis showed that the fragments’ scripture was painted onto already ancient leather. But many scholars now believe they were a collection of documents largely written in Jerusalem and other places in Judea. “If there’s any theme that’s present in the Bible, it’s the theme of forgiveness and the possibility of redemption, after someone finally comes clean,” he adds. The scroll is … In 2016, researchers including Justnes and Kipp Davis, a scholar at Canada’s Trinity Western University who co-edited the 2016 book, began discussing signs that some post-2002 fragments in Norway had been faked. The National Geographic Channel will be airing two television programs dealing with ancient writings that both relate to today's era. Directed by Peter Yost. “I am bothered by the handwriting; it now seems to be suspicious,” he says. “That pushed our knowledge of the biblical text back one thousand years from what was available at the time, and showed some variety—but especially the consistency—of the tradition of the Hebrew Bible.”. It is one of the world’s most daunting jigsaw puzzles: 25,000 pieces of ancient parchment comprising the famous Dead Sea Scrolls. It is one of the world’s most daunting jigsaw puzzles: 25,000 pieces of ancient parchment comprising the famous Dead Sea Scrolls. “The Museum of the Bible did some really bad things eight to 10 years ago, and they were rightly criticized severely,” he says. “Talk about making lemonade, right?” Loll says. But in the 1970s, a new UNESCO convention on cultural property and a new Israeli law on the antiquities trade restricted sale of the looted scrolls. But months before that book’s publication, doubt had started to creep into some scholars’ minds. © 1996-2015 National Geographic Society, © 2015- “These fragments were manipulated with the intent to deceive,” Loll says. A new scientific investigation funded by the Museum of the Bible has confirmed that all 16 fragments are modern forgeries. … “All roads lead to Bethlehem,” said Lawrence Schiffman, a Hebrew scholar at New York University and adviser to the Museum of the Bible, at the Friday conference. Discovered by a Bedouin shepherd in the caves of Qumran, the Dead Sea Scrolls consist of passages of the Hebrew Bible, or Old Testament, that range from 1,800 to more than 2,000 years old. At press, William Kando, who sold seven pieces to Green, did not respond to an email request for comment. In 2017, U.S. officials forced Hobby Lobby to return 5,500 illegally imported clay tablets to Iraq and pay a $3-million fine. In an email, Charlesworth noted that when he described the fragment to other scholars in the past, he reported that it was probably authentic but not from the same time and place as the Dead Sea Scrolls found in Qumran. Davis then published evidence in 2017 that cast doubt on two Museum of the Bible fragments, including one that was on display when the museum opened in 2017. In a report spanning more than 200 pages, a team of researchers led by art fraud investigator Colette Loll found that while the pieces are probably made of ancient leather, they were inked in modern times and modified to resemble real Dead Sea Scrolls. The article also described the work Price helped conduct in 2017, when teams made the first major discovery related to the Dead Sea Scrolls in more than 60 years. The new findings don’t cast doubt on the 100,000 real Dead Sea Scroll fragments, most of which lie in the Shrine of the Book, part of the Israel Museum, Jerusalem. With special access to the scrolls, National Geographic goes beyond the enclosed glass case to examine the actual texts up close and explores the caves where they were found. and the second century A.D.—include biblical texts as well as a variety of hymns, prayers, and apocalyptic works. Some of the writings that are similar in style turned out to be made on the hides of animals with similar DNA. But what of the other 11 fragments? Today, private collectors bid for the scraps grandfathered into current law, mostly fragments that entered the private market in the 1950s and 1960s. The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered more than 60 years ago in seaside caves near an ancient settlement called Qumran. The white "foam" that collects … Loll was no stranger to fakes and forgeries. Officials unveiled the findings at an academic conference hosted by the museum. National Geographic Channel aired the documentary Writing the Dead Sea Scrolls this evening, Tuesday, July 27, 2010. After the first five tested fragments showed ungodly inconsistencies, the … However, the report’s findings raise grave questions about the “post-2002” Dead Sea Scroll fragments, a group of some 70 snippets of biblical text that entered the antiquities market in the 2000s. “We really hope this is helpful to other institutions and researchers, because we think this provides a good foundation for looking at other pieces, even if it raises other questions.”. (Here's how researchers realized a museum's collection of Dead Sea Scrolls were forgeries.). In a past interview with National Geographic contributing writer Robert Draper, Kando denied that any fragments he had sold were inauthentic. The recent findings have no bearing on the nearly 100,000 Dead Sea Scroll fragments that comprise the Shrine of the Book, on display in the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, National Geographic reports. The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered between 1946 and 1956 and date back 2,000 years Discovered between 1946 and 1956, the Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of 972 ancient manuscripts … They also hint that Judeans of the period were less concerned with the precise wording of ancient religious texts than later Jews and Christians. 2020 National Geographic Partners, LLC. The first fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in 1947 on the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea. “I had zero idea, none!”. From February to October, the team periodically visited the museum and pulled together their findings. From 2009 to 2014, Green bought a total of 16 Dead Sea Scroll fragments in four batches, including seven fragments he bought directly from William Kando, the elder Kando’s son. Initially, some Dead Sea Scroll experts thought the post-2002 pieces, including Green’s, were the real deal. “But if they are authentic, unprovenanced artifacts, they must have been looted, they must have been smuggled—they were tied to criminal acts in some way.”. Researchers have spent decades trying to laboriously piece … Fallout from the report could land far and wide. “Our job as a museum is to help the public understand, and this is a part of the history of the Dead Sea Scrolls now, for better or for worse.”. The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of ancient manuscripts dating back to 2000 years ago. In a Thursday interview with National Geographic, Sharpe expressed shock and disbelief that the piece he had sold—and that he had bought earlier for his own collection—was inauthentic. Possibly to correct for the anachronism, the forged fragments also look like they were dusted with clay minerals consistent with sediments from Qumran, where the original Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. Not only does the report correct the Dead Sea Scroll corpus, but it also defines a procedure to test other post-2002 fragments’ authenticity. 'Dead Sea Scrolls' at the Museum of the Bible are all forgeries. The Museum of the Bible was opened in 2017 and claims to be the “world’s largest museum … By shining x-rays on the fragments, the researchers could map different chemical elements across the fragments’ surfaces, which revealed that calcium had soaked deeply into the leather pieces. While recent evidence suggests at least a few authentic Dead Sea Scrolls may have been prepared with lime, scholars have long thought that the technique caught on only after the authentic Dead Sea Scrolls were made. Collectors and museums jumped at the chance to own the oldest known biblical texts, including Museum of the Bible founder Steve Green, the president of Hobby Lobby. The museum is also reevaluating the provenance of all the material in its collection, and it is prepared to return any stolen artifacts to their rightful owners. Researchers analyzed tiny samples of scroll fragments—these from the biblical book of Jeremiah. Their findings, published Tuesday in the journal Cell, show that at least some of the material likely originated from other parts of the region rather than at Qumran. The researchers were even able to distinguish the genetic signature among different flocks of sheep. Ever since their discovery in 1947, the Dead Sea Scrolls have captured the imagination and interest of scholars and the public. For Justnes, the post-2002 fragments’ missing backstories pose a greater concern than any chemical evidence of forgery. 'Dead Sea Scrolls' at the Museum of the Bible are all forgeries . The Dead Sea Scrolls, written between the third century B.C. National Geographic, by Michael Greshko Original Article. The announcement also draws the spotlight back onto how the Museum of the Bible assembled its collection in the first place. It has the lowest land elevation on Earth, sitting 422 meters (1,385 feet) below sea level. Loll quickly assembled a team of five conservators and scientists. All rights reserved. How did this happen? Loll insisted on independence. Though the report delves into the fragments’ makeup, it does not investigate their provenance, or the proven chain of ownership tracing back to their place of origin. They were … National Geographic tried to contact the three Americans who sold Dead Sea Scroll fragments to Green. Periodically visited the Museum and pulled together their findings century, ” says Harry. 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