Sadly, The Hobby Lobby Dead Sea Scrolls Are All Crafty Fakes

These don't belong in a museum.
Sadly, The Hobby Lobby Dead Sea Scrolls Are All Crafty Fakes

Have you ever been to the Museum of the Bible in Washington D.C.? The museum is funded by the Green family, the very Christian founders of Hobby Lobby, who wished to dedicate an entire building to the Holy Bible. (Though I'm positive I've seen a bunch of pointy ones already serving that purpose). Over the past decade, the family has spent $400 million, money they've easily saved up by denying their female employees healthcare, on housing the greatest private collection of holy texts this side of Vatican City.

But like any money spent involving Hobby Lobby, that has mostly been netting them low-quality knockoffs. One of the Museum of the Bible's most coveted collections has been its fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls, that draft of the Hebrew Bible so ancient it crumbled into thousands of pieces and is now scattered all over the world like an inappropriate Easter egg hunt. But from 2009 to 2014, the Greens managed to obtain sixteen bits of Dead Sea Scrolls, fragments that experts soon after deigned to be fake as hell. In response, the Greens employed the Art Fraud Insight group to put the nasty rumors to bed and confirm that, yup, those are less likely to be a hallowed scripture of the teachings of God and more likely just a bit of old shoe.

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Wikimedia Commons
"We thought it kept saying 'Nike' as a warning against worshiping false gods."

For six months, the AFI ran a battery of "sophisticated and costly" tests on the brittle fragments; tests like multispectral imaging where the texts are carefully inspected under several different wavelengths of light like the archeological equivalent of shining a blacklight on a seedy motel bed. The result was definitive and slightly embarrassing. Not only were these fragments forgeries made by drawing fresh text onto already desiccated leather, but there's also a chance that that leather came from shoes found in archeological dig sites, as many of the holy texts have holes in them suspiciously similar to the lace holes of some 2,000-year-old Roman's sweaty sandals.

Confronted with the idea they've spent millions on some ancient Huarache's with doodling on them, the CEO of the museum decried: "We're victims of misrepresentation, we're victims of fraud." But nobody should ever feel bad for the Greens or their vanity museum. The family has had a long history of deliberately not looking too closely at where their artifacts originate, something that cost the Greens $3 million in fines and most of their collection when the government uncovered that they had been using shell companies to smuggle looted Iraqi artifacts into the U.S., knowing full well they might be indirectly funding ISIS in their holy quest to build a shrine to Christianity's fiction section.

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