The Museum of the Bible said Monday that five fragments in its collection of Dead Sea Scrolls are fake and will be removed from display.
German researchers tested the five fragments and found characteristics “inconsistent with ancient origin,” a statement from the museum says. The fragments will no longer be displayed at the Washington D.C.-based museum.
The Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered in the 1940s, are a collection of ancient religious writings that date back to more than 2,000 years ago and are thought to be among the oldest surviving Judeo-Christian texts.
Experts warned that some of the fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls could be fake ahead of the Museum of the Bible’s opening in November 2017. Barely one year in, five fragments have been found to be probable forgeries.
“Though we had hoped the testing would render different results, this is an opportunity to educate the public on the importance of verifying the authenticity of rare biblical artifacts, the elaborate testing process undertaken and our commitment to transparency,” Jeffrey Kloha chief curatorial officer for the Museum of the Bible said in a statement. “As an educational institution entrusted with cultural heritage, the museum upholds and adheres to all museum and ethical guidelines on collection care, research and display.”
The museum sent the fragments to researchers for analysis in April 2017 and has displayed the five fragments since its opening in November 2017. The fake fragments have been replaced with other fragments “that will be on exhibit pending further scientific analysis and scholarly research,” said a statement from the museum.