Last year, the direction of the Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC, USA, reported that five of its most valuable artifacts were fake – the fragments were considered part of the Dead Sea manuscripts. This weekend, more bad news has arrived: after all, all 16 artifacts are fake, writes CNN. The information was released during a press conference, in which experts provided a 200-page report that, according to the American publication, reveals how the false documents deceived not only academics, but also antique buyers.
In a statement, the lead investigator and director of Art Fraud Insights, Colette Loll, clarified that "after a thorough analysis" it became evident that "none of the text fragments in the Dead Sea manuscript collection is authentic". The counterfeits were then created in the 20th century with the intention of imitating the original documents. CNN writes although some scholars estimate that 70 similar fragments will have reached the market in 2002.
The Dead Sea manuscripts are among the most important biblical finds in archeology and are more than two thousand years old, as the Observer explained earlier. They are the oldest set of biblical texts ever discovered. Its content contains several parts of the Old Testament, in Hebrew and Aramaic. These scrolls are believed to have been created by a Jewish group that lived in the area where the manuscripts were found. They were reportedly expelled by Roman forces during a Jewish revolt, 70 years before Christ (BC). They describe the group's life, time and beliefs.
According to Art Fraud Insights, most of the fragments that now turn out to be fake are made of leather and not parchment, like the other Dead Sea manuscripts. The leather leftovers used may have been part of ancient Roman shoes, speculates the report.
CNN also writes that the counterfeiters covered the pieces in question with shiny amber material – probably animal glue – to make them look more convincing. Although they came from four different buyers, all the pieces are covered with this amber material, which suggests that the counterfeits were made by the same person or group of people.
The aforementioned report also highlights the use of modern ink to write passages in the Bible as an error, according to an analysis carried out in German laboratories. While the ink was still wet, the counterfeiters spread mineral deposits consistent with those from the Dead Sea region.
To come to the conclusion that the methods used were intended to “cheat,” the research team hired by the museum – made up of six members – used several devices, including 3D microscopes. O report in question did not detail the origin of these fakes.
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