Bible Museum admits some of its Dead Sea Scrolls are fake

The $500 million Museum of the Bible held its grand opening in November 2017. (Reuters)
Updated 23 October 2018
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Bible Museum admits some of its Dead Sea Scrolls are fake

  • Technical analysis by a team of German scholars has revealed that at least five of the museum’s 16 scroll fragments are apparent forgeries
  • The announcement has serious implications not only for the Bible Museum but for other evangelical Christian individuals and institutions

WASHINGTON: When Washington’s $500 million Museum of the Bible held its grand opening in November 2017, attended by Vice President Mike Pence, there were questions even then about the authenticity of its centerpiece collection of Dead Sea Scrolls.
Now the museum has been forced to admit a painful truth: Technical analysis by a team of German scholars has revealed that at least five of the museum’s 16 scroll fragments are apparent forgeries.
The announcement has serious implications not only for the Bible Museum but for other evangelical Christian individuals and institutions who paid top dollar for what now seems to be a massive case of archaeological fraud.
Jeffrey Kloha, chief curator for the Museum of the Bible, said in a statement that the revelation is “an opportunity to educate the public on the importance of verifying the authenticity of rare biblical artifacts, the elaborate testing process undertaken and our commitment to transparency.”
The scrolls are a collection of ancient Jewish religious texts first discovered in the mid-1940s in caves on the western shore of the Dead Sea in what is now Israel. The massive cache of Hebrew documents is believed to date back to the days of Jesus. With more than 9,000 documents and 50,000 fragments, the entire collection took decades to fully excavate.
Most of the scrolls and fragments are tightly controlled by the Israeli Antiquities Authority. But around 2002, a wave of new fragments began mysteriously appearing on the market, despite skepticism from Biblical scholars.
These fragments, they warned, were specifically designed to target American evangelical Christians, who prize the scrolls. That appears to be exactly what happened; a Baptist seminary in Texas and an evangelical college in California reportedly paid millions to purchase alleged pieces of the scrolls.
Also, eagerly buying up fragments was the Green family — evangelical Oklahoma billionaires who run the Hobby Lobby chain of craft stores and who famously sued the Obama administration on religious grounds, saying they didn’t want to pay to provide their employees access to the morning-after pill or intrauterine devices.
The Greens are the primary backers of the Museum of the Bible and went on an archaeological acquisition spree in the years leading up to the museum’s opening. In addition to the alleged Dead Sea Scrolls fragments, the Greens ran afoul of the Justice Department, which said they had acquired thousands of smuggled artifacts looted from Iraq and elsewhere. The family agreed last year to return those artifacts and pay a $3 million fine.


Iraqi police arrest man selling Saddam Hussein watches in Baghdad

Updated 22 April 2019
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Iraqi police arrest man selling Saddam Hussein watches in Baghdad

  • Since the fall of Hussein, promotion of the former leader, the regime or the Ba’ath party is prohibited
  • Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death by hanging on Dec, 30 2006

LONDON: Police in Iraq have arrested a man selling watches in central Baghdad with images of the country’s former dictator Saddam Hussein on their faces.
Since the fall of Hussein, promotion of the former leader, the regime or the Ba’ath party is prohibited.
Baghdad police department said in a statement that they acted after they had received a tip from a member of the public that someone was selling wristwatches with pictures of Saddam Hussein on them.
The statement did not give further details about the arrest.
Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death by hanging on Dec, 30 2006 after being convicted of crimes against humanity.
Iraq’s judiciary recently said no decision or law had been implemented to punish Saddam Hussein’s supporters and pointed out that any step in this regard should be first initiated by the Iraqi Parliament, despite the country’s constitution prohibiting the existence of the former Ba’ath party.
This statement came after a popular poet appeared in the southern province of Dhi Qar, delivering a poem that many saw as a tribute to Saddam Hussein, who ruled Iraq for decades, from 1979 until his fall in 2003.