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They were purchased from the Bedouin who found them, or from the Palestinian Christian Arabs the shepherds sold to and deposited at the Palestine Archaeological (Rockefeller) Museum, then under British Mandate control.(The museum came under Jordanian control during the 1948 Israeli War of Independence.) According to archaeologist Pnina Shor, the curator and head of the Israel Antiquities Authority’s Dead Sea Scroll projects, the search for new Dead Sea Scrolls has always been “a race between the archaeologists and the Bedouin and who gets there first.
The motive is entirely clear: The tiniest of ancient snippets sells for well over 0,000 per fragment in these private off-the-books sales.
“De Vaux himself recognized the first forgeries he encountered accordingly, and described them consisting of ‘several lines in awkward square Hebrew characters which don’t make any sense, and are written in modern ink, on an old fragment of skin that didn’t have any writing on it,'” according to the article.
De Vaux, the director of Jerusalem’s Ecole Biblique, led the mostly Catholic team in initial research and documentation for the trove of the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered and purchased in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
Årstein Justnes, a professor of Biblical Studies at the University of Agder, Norway, has built the blogsite The Lying Pen of Scribes to document for free public use the mounting evidence of forgeries in the post-2002 Dead Sea Scroll-like fragments.
In an email exchange with The Times of Israel, Justnes outlined the “silent message” of his blog.