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(RNS) — Since its grand opening nearly a year ago, the Museum of the Bible has exhibited five fragments from the storied Dead Sea Scrolls, the ancient parchment fragments discovered 70 years ago in a desert cave.
On Monday (Oct. 22) the museum acknowledged that the five fragments it had on display were forgeries. They were taken down several weeks ago and replaced with three other fragments that do not have the same anomalies.
Museum - Fragments - Sign - Exhibit - Scholars
The museum had long suspected the fragments may be forged and a sign accompanying the exhibit says scholars had raised questions about their authenticity. But last week the museum received scientific verification via digital and X-ray testing of the ink, sediment layers and chemical composition, which proved conclusively that the fragments were forged.
“This is part of our ongoing commitment to making sure we’re adhering to all legal and museum standards, that our displays are accurate, that when we have information, we make it available,” said Jeff Kloha, chief curatorial officer. “Where we had uncertainty about the documentation, we put that up on the museum website and updated labels on the displays.”
Time - Museum - Questions - Origins - Antiquities
This is not the first time the museum has faced questions about the problematic origins of some of its antiquities. Many of the items in the Washington, D.C., museum were purchased beginning in 2009 by the billionaire Oklahoma-based Green family, owners of the Hobby Lobby craft store chain.
The museum has benefited from the Greens’ buying spree. The family amassed about 40,000 items, some of which were donated to the museum, including the purported Dead Sea Scroll fragments.
Year - Hobby - Lobby - Artifacts - Iraq
But last year, Hobby Lobby agreed to return nearly 4,000 artifacts to Iraq after they were found to have been looted from Iraqi archaeological sites. As part of the settlement with the Justice Department, the company was also required to pay $3...
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