Newly Discovered Dead Sea Scrolls are Skillfully Crafted Fakes, Experts Suspect

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tags: archaeology, Dead Sea scrolls



While most Americans are riveted by a tumultuous presidential campaign, archaeologists and experts in ancient writing have been focused on some newly discovered bits of ancient history: 70 alleged fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The fragments reference some of the verses found in the Old Testament, and antiquities dealers and owners claim they were created by a desert-dwelling, ascetic Jewish sect called the Essenes in the centuries just before the birth of Christ.

Like all archaeology in and around the conflicted, contested Holy Land, the story of the Dead Sea Scrolls is intensely political. Bedouins stumbled upon a trove of them in 1947, in a cave in a desert cliff high above the baked, sere shores of the Dead Sea, in what was then Jordan. A scholar at Hebrew University began looking at them later that year—in the same month that the United Nations voted to partition Palestine, effectively acknowledging the new state of Israel.

Eventually, many of the scroll fragments were collected into one public display in a Shrine of the Book on the grounds of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. The shrine is underground and capped by a massive cement cone that can be ratcheted down to protect them in the event of any attack or bombardment.




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