Less than a year after it opened, Washington's Museum of the Bible is admitting that at least some items in its centerpiece collection of Dead Sea Scrolls are fakes. The embarrassing announcement Monday is the culmination of a technical analysis by a team of German scholars. They concluded that at least five of the museum's 16 fragments are apparent forgeries, per the AP.
The authenticity of the collection was being questioned even as the $500 million museum held its grand opening ceremonies in November 2017. The scrolls are a collection of ancient Jewish religious texts first discovered in the mid-1940s in what is now Israel. Most are tightly controlled by the Israeli Antiquities Authority. But around 2002, a wave of new fragments began mysteriously appearing on the market, despite warnings from Biblical scholars. (Earlier this year, Israeli researchers said they deciphered one of the last remaining puzzles of the mysterious scrolls.)