In the Face of Forged Dead Sea Scroll Fragments, the Museum of the Bible Owns Up to Its Mistakes

On March 13, the Museum of the Bible announced that all sixteen of the Dead Sea Scroll fragments in its possession have been shown to be forgeries. While many experts had originally believed these fragments to be authentic, some have been airing doubts for several years. When the museum first opened in 2017, it put some of them on display alongside notes indicating their uncertain provenance. Collette Loll, whose firm conducted the two-year investigation into the artifacts, defends the museum’s handling of the issue:

Instead of quietly removing the fragments from view, the Museum of the Bible, to its credit, went public with the news. Although headlines shouted “Museum of the Bible’s Dead Sea Scrolls Are All Forgeries,” the real news was the length to which the museum went to discover the truth, and what it means for other museums and research institutions that also have questioned fragments.

The tools we have today to detect forgeries have advanced since 2002, when a new batch of arguably authentic Dead Sea Scroll fragments appeared on the market. Science is constantly evolving, making it easier for collectors and researchers to distinguish treasures from trickery. Unfortunately, interrogation of works usually occurs too late, only after their purchase. It does nothing to prove legal or ethical ownership status. The more nefarious threat to the historical record comes from the many actors who legitimize dubious acquisitions by lending their professional and scholarly authority to objects that appear on the market, often unprovenanced. This scenario has only two possible outcomes, neither of them acceptable. Either they are forgeries or, worse, authentic and unprovenanced.

The best way for collectors and institutions to guard against deception, which is costly in terms of both economics and reputation, is to insist on solid provenance documentation—that is, to know exactly where an artifact or a piece of art comes from. . . . The Museum of the Bible and its founder no doubt made mistakes in the past, many of them stemming from a lack of due diligence and provenance verification. The unfortunate result of their mistakes provides a lesson that reinforces their commitment to adhering to collections best practices.

Read more at National Review

More about: Dead Sea Scrolls, Museum of the Bible

Ordinary Gazans Are Turning against Hamas—and Its Western Sympathizers

In the past few days, difficult-to-confirm reports have emerged of unrest in the Gaza Strip, and of civilians throwing stones at Hamas operatives. A recent video from Al Jazeera showed a Gazan declaring that “God will bring Qatar and Turkey to account” for the suffering of Palestinians in the current war. Being an agent of the Qatari government, the journalist turned away, and then pushed the interviewee with his hand to prevent him from getting near the microphone. Yet this brief exchange contributes much to the ongoing debate about Palestinian support for Hamas, and belies the frequent assertion by experts that the Israeli campaign is only “further radicalizing” the population.

For some time, Joseph Braude has worked with a number of journalists and researchers to interview ordinary Gazans under circumstances where they don’t fear reprisals. He notes that the sorts of opinions they share are rarely heard in Western media, let alone on Al Jazeera or Iran-sponsored outlets:

[A] resident of Khan Younis describes how locals in a bakery spontaneously attacked a Hamas member who had come to buy bread. The incident, hardly imaginable before the present war, reflects a widespread feeling of “disgust,” he says, after Gazan aspirations for “a dignified life and to live in peace” were set back by the Hamas atrocities of October 7.

Fears have grown that this misery will needlessly be prolonged by Westerners who strive, in effect, to perpetuate Hamas rule, according to one Gazan woman. Addressing protesters who have taken to the streets to demand a ceasefire on behalf of Palestinians, she calls on them to make a choice: “Either support the Palestinian people or the Hamas regime that oppresses them.” If protesters harbor a humanitarian motive, she asks, “Why don’t we see them demonstrating against Hamas?”

“Hamas is the destruction of the Palestinian people. We’ve had enough. They need to be wiped out—because if they remain, the people will be wiped out.”

You can watch videos of some of the interviews by clicking the link below.

Read more at Free Press

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Palestinian public opinion