Tuesday 26 January 2021

More Dubious Dead Sea Scrolls

Årstein Justnes, Josephine Munch Rasmussen 2021, 'More Dubious Dead Sea Scrolls: Four Pre-2002 Fragments in the Schøyen Collection' DOI: https://doi.org/10.1163/15685179-bja10001

In the course of the last eighteen years more than 75 new “Dead Sea Scrolls” fragments have surfaced on the antiquities market. These are commonly referred to as post-2002 Dead Sea Scrolls-like fragments. A growing number of scholars regard a substantial part of them as forgeries. In this article, we will discuss four more dubious fragments, but this time from the 20th Century—or at least from pre-2002. Two of the fragments have been known since the late nineties and are published in the DJD series. One was published in Revue de Qumran (2003), and one in Gleanings from the Caves (2016). All four are today accepted as part of the Dead Sea Scrolls dataset even though they are unprovenanced and have made-up—or at least very adaptable—lists of previous owners. In this article, we will critically review their provenance and discuss the lack of proper interest in provenance on the part of the collector who owns them and the scholars who published them.
"In the present article, we revisit four fragments that became known between 1998 and 2001 and interpret them, not primarily as historical objects of unknown origin, but as modern and contemporary additions to the Dead Sea Scrolls historiography". That's an interesting approach and certainly suggests if such an idea catches hold in the case of objects with similarly undocumented origins, the price of such items (and therefore dealers' profits) may be predicted to drop drastically. Perhaps that's a way to get dealers and collectors interested in verifiably documenting collecting histories.

 An important fact is slipped into the text in the final comment:
53 After we submitted this article, an additional element has come up regarding these two fragments. According to the recent scientific report by Art Fraud Insights (“Final Report,” 7), MS 2713 and MS 2861 “bear a striking resemblance to the [fake] MOTB [= Museum of the Bible] fragments.”


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