How did all these world experts miss this?”. 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 announcement also draws the spotlight back onto how the Museum of the Bible assembled its collection in the first place. A new scientific investigation funded by the Museum of the Bible has confirmed that all 16 fragments are modern forgeries. 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. Even before the new report, some scholars believed that most to all of the post-2002 fragments were modern fakes. All rights reserved. “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. One of the fragments has a row of what look like artificially made holes, somewhat similar to those found in Roman-era shoes. 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. 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. In a past interview with National Geographic contributing writer Robert Draper, Kando denied that any fragments he had sold were inauthentic. The Kandos' many alleged connections to the forged fragments have not escaped scholars' attention. 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 … “It really was—and still is—an interesting kind of detective story,” says Jeffrey Kloha, the Museum of the Bible’s chief curatorial officer. 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 Museum of the Bible agreed to the terms. Posted By: MissMolly, 3/14/2020 3:22:31 AM Washington, D.C.On the … National Geographic Channel aired the documentary Writing the Dead Sea Scrolls this evening, Tuesday, July 27, 2010. 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. Dead Sea The Dead Sea is a large lake that borders Israel, Jordan, and the West Bank. “We’re victims—we’re victims of misrepresentation, we’re victims of fraud.”. How could these be fraudulent?” Noah says. The conventional wisdom is that a breakaway Jewish sect called … Noah attempted to return the fragments to the Kando family, but the Kandos instead agreed to sell the fragments at a discount to Noah and Sharpe. It held some 600 manuscripts, spread among more than … “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. New technologies help scientists decipher the ancient Dead Sea Scrolls and newly surfaced fragments. First, the team concluded that the fragments were seemingly made of the wrong material. To better understand the fragments' surface features, researchers photographed the pieces under many different wavelengths of light, a technique called multispectral imaging. Researchers carefully examined the surfaces of all 16 fragments under high magnification—all while … “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. 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. All 16 fragments appeared to be modern forgeries. How did this happen? 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. “These fragments were manipulated with the intent to deceive,” Loll says. Brill, the book’s publisher, is standing by to learn more. 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. Loll quickly assembled a team of five conservators and scientists. In late 2018, the museum announced the results to the world: All five tested fragments were probably modern forgeries. “I believe that they’ve made a number of attempts in recent years to right the ship. 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. 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. 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. Charlesworth also says he has seen pieces of blank, ancient leather in circulation. It has the lowest land elevation on Earth, sitting 422 meters (1,385 feet) below sea level. Michael Sharpe, a book collector formerly based in Pasadena, California, sold one Dead Sea Scroll piece to Green in February 2010. 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. 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 Museum of the Bible is trying to be as transparent as possible,” says CEO Harry Hargrave. On others, the forgers’ brushstrokes clearly overlie the ancient leather’s bumpy mineral crust. “Honestly, I’ve never worked with a museum that was so up-front,” Loll says. “The Museum of the Bible did some really bad things eight to 10 years ago, and they were rightly criticized severely,” he says. Noah and Sharpe both say that leading scholars threw their support behind the fragments they bought. 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. One tantalizing possibility is that they come from ancient leather shoes or sandals. 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 … They were hidden in jars in caves near Qumran, home to members of an ascetic Jewish sect called the Essenes. Christopher Rollston, a specialist on Semitic texts at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., welcomes the effort to set things right. From February to October, the team periodically visited the museum and pulled together their findings. If they are fakes, we have been duped,” he says. 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. “I had zero idea, none!”. But months before that book’s publication, doubt had started to creep into some scholars’ minds. The researchers were even able to distinguish the genetic signature among different flocks of sheep. “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. "Our collective goal was to be helpful to the scholars who are working on Dead Sea Scrolls," she says. 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. 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. 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. 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. The Dead Sea Scrolls, written between the third century B.C. Monday, March 16, 2020. 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. 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. “You don’t need as much of a knowledge of the materials as you need a knowledge of the marketplace.”. Sponsored by MagellanTV - a new streaming service with 2,000+ documentaries worth watching. 2020 National Geographic Partners, LLC. And how had the forgers managed to fool the world’s leading Dead Sea Scroll scholars and the Museum of the Bible? The real Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest known surviving copies of the Hebrew Bible, were first rediscovered 1947. But what of the other 11 fragments? “All the material has documentation proving that the documents were exported previously under relevant antiquities laws,” Schiffman said on Friday. Now a team of Israeli, Swedish, and American researchers has applied advanced genetic testing to the material, a parchment made from animal skins. Researchers have spent decades trying to laboriously piece … “The existence of this Qumran scribal practice has been doubted, but this finding would certainly support it,” said Sidnie Crawford, a biblical scholar at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln who was not involved in the study. 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. Officials unveiled the findings at an academic conference hosted by the museum. 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. For Justnes, the post-2002 fragments’ missing backstories pose a greater concern than any chemical evidence of forgery. Many of the shriveled brown fragments—most no bigger than large coins—reportedly traced back to the Kandos, who were rumored to be selling pieces they had long ago spirited away to a vault in Switzerland. Loll was no stranger to fakes and forgeries. 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. The Museum of the Bible houses 16 purported Dead Sea Scroll fragments, including this piece of the Book of Genesis. However, the identity of the forger or forgers remains unknown. “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.”. Dead Sea Scrolls are examined in this BBC documentary.BBC all rights reserved. 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. Researchers analyzed tiny samples of scroll fragments—these from the biblical book of Jeremiah. 2020 National Geographic Partners, LLC. After the first five tested fragments showed ungodly inconsistencies, the … “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. “The Dead Sea Scrolls are inarguably the most important biblical discovery of the last century,” Kloha says. “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.”. “That’s really the story. National Geographic, by Michael Greshko Original Article. Loll insisted on independence. 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. 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. “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. They were … 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. 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. The scrolls—written between the second century B.C. © 1996-2015 National Geographic Society, © 2015- 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. The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered by Bedouin shepherds in the 1940s, in caves in Qumran. 'Dead Sea Scrolls' at the Museum of the Bible are all forgeries . 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. 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. 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. 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. Mar 30,2020 | artfraud | Comments 0. 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. Not only does the report correct the Dead Sea Scroll corpus, but it also defines a procedure to test other post-2002 fragments’ authenticity. “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. National Geographic Exclusive ‘Dead Sea Scrolls’ at the Museum of the Bible are all forgeries. Neither did collector Andrew Stimer, who sold four of the fragments to Green in 2014. The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered more than 60 years ago in seaside caves near an ancient settlement called Qumran. The Museum of the Bible was opened in 2017 and claims to be the “world’s largest museum … Witness as a new clue to the … “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 authentic Dead Sea Scrolls trace back to 1947, when Bedouin herders found clay jars in Palestine’s Qumran caves that held thousands of parchment scrolls more than 1,800 years old, including some of the oldest surviving copies of the Hebrew Bible. In the wake of the new report, researchers say they must next focus on the fragments’ convoluted routes through the global antiquities trade. 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. and the first century A.D., were discovered between 1947 and 1956 in 11 caves near Khirbat Qumran in the West Bank, on the … The white "foam" that collects … “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. One fragment’s lettering squeezed into a corner that wouldn’t have existed when the writing surface was new. Today, private collectors bid for the scraps grandfathered into current law, mostly fragments that entered the private market in the 1950s and 1960s. Archaeologists initially thought the scrolls were the product of scribes living in the Qumran community. “I am bothered by the handwriting; it now seems to be suspicious,” he 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. Ferrini eventually went bankrupt from Noah's and others' lawsuits. “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.”. “How could these be phony? and the second century A.D.—include biblical texts as well as a variety of hymns, prayers, and apocalyptic works. Washington, D.C.On the fourth floor of the Museum of … 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. 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. By the time their report was finalized in November 2019, the researchers were unanimous. “When you have a deceiver and a believer, it’s an intimate dance,” Loll says. By decade’s end, the trickle of post-2002 fragments turned into a flood of at least 70 pieces. “Talk about making lemonade, right?” Loll says. 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. But many scholars now believe they were a collection of documents largely written in Jerusalem and other places in Judea. Initially, some Dead Sea Scroll experts thought the post-2002 pieces, including Green’s, were the real deal. “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. 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 … “'Dead Sea cornflakes' we used to call them, they were so small,” Noah says. All but two of the 26 fragments tested were made from sheep hide. 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. “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. But now, the Washington, D.C. museum has confirmed a bitter truth about the fragments’ authenticity. Most damningly, careful microscopic analysis showed that the fragments’ scripture was painted onto already ancient leather. 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