Washington, Oct 23 (IANS) The Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., has said that five of its most valuable artefacts, once thought to be part of the historic Dead Sea Scrolls, were fake and would not be displayed anymore.
German-based scholars tested the fragments and found that five “show characteristics inconsistent with ancient origin and therefore will no longer be displayed at the museum”, the museum announced on Monday.
At 430,000 square feet, and with views of the Capitol, the Bible museum represents a significant investment for its evangelical founders, CNN reported.
Now scholars say the Dead Sea forgeries could be part of the most significant sham in biblical archaeology since the “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife”, a fiasco that hoodwinked a Harvard scholar and made worldwide news in 2012.
Some scholars estimate that as many as 70 forged fragments have hit the market since 2002.
“Though we had hoped the testing would render different results, this is an opportunity to educate the public on the importance of verifying the authenticity of rare biblical artefacts, the elaborate testing process undertaken and our commitment to transparency,” said Jeffrey Kloha, the chief curatorial officer for Museum of the Bible.
“As an educational institution entrusted with cultural heritage, the museum upholds and adheres to all museum and ethical guidelines on collection care, research and display.”
Monday’s revelations are not the first time have courted controversy with their artefacts collection, CNN reported.
Steve Green, the Bible museum’s evangelical founder and chairman, would not say how much his family spent for the 16 Dead Sea Scrolls fragments in its collection.
But scholars say even small fragments with little text can fetch millions in the antiquities market.