The Museum of the Bible raised eyebrows even before opening its giant bronze, Latin-inscribed gates: its primary financial backer is billionaire Steve Green, whose arts and crafts chain Hobby Lobby has supported conservative causes in Washington. It has drawn visitors of all faiths since it opened.
The fragments have been on display since the museum opened in November 2017.
"My research has focused primarily on two aspects of Museum of the Bible's fragments: scribal quality and technique in the penning of the texts as well as the physical composition and current state of the manuscript media", said Davis. The museum sent five of its alleged Dead Sea Scroll fragments to Germany's Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM) in Berlin for an investigation that included X-ray scanning and ink analysis.
"My studies to date have managed to confirm upon a preponderance of different streams of evidence the high probability that at least seven fragments in the museum's Dead Sea Scrolls collection are modern forgeries, but conclusions on the status of the remaining fragments are still forthcoming", Kipp Davis, a scholar at Trinity Western University in Canada, said in today's press release from the museum. The fake fragments have been replaced with other fragments "that will be on exhibit pending further scientific analysis and scholarly research", said a statement from the museum.
The Green family bought 16 scroll fragments between 2009 and 2014, Kloha said.
The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered by Bedouin shepherds in Qumran Caves in the West Bank in the 1940s and revolutionised the study of the early bible. Three of those 9 are now on display at the museum with signs addressing the questions about their authenticity, the spokesperson said.
Bible museum in Washington, D.C., says five of its Dead Sea Scrolls are fake
Davis, who studied the fragments for the Museum of the Bible, said Monday's news about the fakes felt like bittersweet vindication. The museum quickly gave researchers access to the fragments to compare handwriting styles and the layout of the writing, Kloha said.
But some scholars have been raising questions about supposed Dead Sea Scroll fragments for years, saying that unscrupulous antiquities dealers are preying on evangelicals like the Greens, making millions in the process. Researchers could not necessarily link individual fragments with the specific caves where they were found.
"We don't believe that it would be accurate to present these as authentic fragments at this point", he said. Further scrolls were found in subsequent years, up to 1956. Their small size makes it hard to determine their authenticity, and no test can definitively determine that a fragment is real.
He said biblical artifacts are commonly faked, and the Dead Sea Scrolls are particularly popular among forgers. In other words they are forgeries.
The fragments will no longer be displayed at the Washington D.C. -based museum. The artifacts have been removed from display.