Some Dead Sea Scroll fragments at a museum in Washington D.C. have been found to be fake.
The collection of scrolls kept at the Museum of the Bible have been considered one of the most significant archaeological finds, reports Newsweek.
The scrolls are the remains of an estimated 800 to 900 Jewish manuscript fragments that contained some of the earliest versions of biblical writing. They were located in 1947 in a set of caves along the Dead Sea shore and told the history of the Jewish people as well as Christian origins.
13 of 16 Dead Sea Scroll fragments received by the Museum of the Bible were published by experts in 2016, but the authenticity of the scrolls was questioned by some experts.
The concern originated after it was learned a number of scroll fragments that were on the market and purchased after 2002 were suspected forgeries. While most of the Dead Sea Scrolls are held by the Israeli government, some parts have turned up in private markets for purchase.
A 2018 investigation conducted by another team of experts showed five fragments were not consistent with ancient origins and as a result, they were removed from display. A subsequent investigation was launched in February 2019 to determine whether the museum's 16 fragments were authentic.
Traditional microscopes and 3D microscopes were used to study the materials of the scrolls and determine their authenticity.
Colette Loll of Art Fraud Insights who was in charge of the investigation revealed its results.
"After an exhaustive review of all the imaging and scientific analysis results, it is evident that none of the textual fragments in Museum of the Bible's Dead Sea Scroll collection are authentic," Loll says.
In her final report, Loll concluded that each scroll exhibits characteristics suggesting they are "deliberate forgeries created in the twentieth century with the intent to mimic authentic Dead Sea Scroll fragments."
The findings are remarkable for another reason also. Chief Curatorial Officer Dr. Jeffrey Kloah from the Museum of the Bible says the methods used to examine the scrolls can also be used in the future to help with determining the authenticity of other relics and possibly assist in discovering more forgeries.
The recently-discovered forgeries of the Dead Sea Scroll fragments do not compromise the authenticity of 100,000 real Dead Sea Scroll fragments. The real fragments are kept in the Shrine of the Book, which is part of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.