Dead Sea Scroll Fragments For Sale

From Ha’aretz

Nearly 70 years after the discovery of the world’s oldest biblical manuscripts, the Palestinian family who originally sold them to scholars and institutions is now quietly marketing the leftovers — fragments the family says it has kept in a Swiss safe deposit box all these years.

Most of these scraps are barely postage-stamp-sized, and some are blank. But in the last few years, evangelical Christian collectors and institutions in the U.S. have forked out millions of dollars for a chunk of this archaeological treasure. This angers Israel’s government antiquities authority, which holds most of the scrolls, claims that every last scrap should be recognized as Israeli cultural property, and threatens to seize any more pieces that hit the market.

“I told Kando many years ago, as far as I’m concerned, he can die with those scrolls,” said Amir Ganor, head of the authority’s anti-looting squad, speaking of William Kando, who maintains his family’s Dead Sea Scrolls collection. “The scrolls’ only address is the State of Israel.”

And truly indeed-

The world of Holy Land antiquities is rife with theft, deception, and geopolitics, and the Dead Sea Scrolls are no exception.  But few know of the recent gold rush for fragments — or Israel’s intelligence-gathering efforts to track their sale.

A bit further on-

In mid-2010, a team of 30 Israeli undercover agents and officers staged a stakeout at Jerusalem’s Hyatt Hotel, posing as interested buyers, and seized a papyrus fragment dating to the 2nd century A.D. The Palestinian dealers offering the papyrus for sale were arrested.  It is likely more ancient manuscripts, and even Dead Sea Scrolls, remain hidden in caves next to the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth, waiting to be discovered.  Many cave entrances are hidden by vegetation and rock falls, or their approaches are eroded, said Lenny Wolfe, a Jerusalem manuscripts dealer.  “I would not at all be surprised if more material were to be found,” Wolfe said.

And I wouldn’t be surprised if lots of fakes aren’t on the market already.  Where there’s money to be made, there are forgers and fraudsters aplenty to make it.

Read the rest.  With delight.

1 thought on “Dead Sea Scroll Fragments For Sale

  1. The question here is who are the middle men between the looters and the buyers, many know, but no one will speak out….it’s just a matter of time.

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