A 200-page report released over the weekend by the Museum of the Bible reveals that all 16 of its fragments of the ancient Dead Sea Scrolls are fake.
“After an exhaustive review of all the imaging and scientific analysis results, it is evident that none of the textual fragments … are authentic,” said Colette Loll, a research with Art Fraud Insights, commissioned by the Washington, D.C.-based Museum of the Bible to investigate the artifacts.
Previously, the museum had said roughly five of its fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls — thought to contain the oldest versions of the Hebrew Bible and other Jewish texts dating to the time of Jesus — were thought to be inauthentic.
“There was so much physical evidence that it made it obvious to us that someone had taken old material and simply applied modern ink in the form of scripture in order to make them look like they were authentic Dead Sea Scrolls,” Ms. Loll said.
She said she was contacted in February 2019 after scholars looking at the museum’s collection of “previously unknown textual fragments inscribed in Hebrew and Aramaic” thought to be part of the cannon of the Dead Sea Scrolls were suspected of being, in fact, forgeries.
The museum hopes methods employed in this investigation can be used by others to spot imitations.
“The sophisticated and costly methods employed to discover the truth about our collection could be used to shed light on other suspicious fragments and perhaps even be effective in uncovering who is responsible for these forgeries,” Jeffrey Kloha, the museum’s chief curator, said in a statement.
The Museum of the Bible is located on 430,000 square feet in the heart of D.C. and was funded entirely by private investment, mostly from its evangelical founders. The museum opened in 2017.
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