Scholars have questioned whether some of these fragments are modern-day forgeries or if they come from caves in the Judean desert that were looted in the past few decades.The newly-surfaced items include nine unpublished Dead Sea Scroll fragments at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas
Often, anonymous individuals sold these fragments that have appeared in the U.S., claiming that they were once owned by Khalil Iskander Shahin, an antiquities dealer in Bethlehem, in the West Bank, Live Science found. Shahin collected many of the Dead Sea Scrolls from the Bedouin people in the 1940s, '50s and '60s; he often went by the name Kando, which his son William Kando now uses. [In Photos: Dead Sea Scrolls from the Antiquities Market] However, William Kando has raised concerns about the number of scroll pieces claimed to have shown up in the United States. In conversations with Live Science, he said that while his family has sold some scroll fragments to collectors in the United States over the past few decades, the family didn’t sell them in the numbers that some collectors are claiming. During the conversations with Live Science, William Kando also revealed that, after the Kando family sold scroll fragments to U.S. collectors, these artifacts were often resold multiple times, creating a tangled collecting history that makes it difficult to determine which of the 45 fragments the Kandos actually owned.
"Southwestern purchased nine Dead Sea Scroll fragments approximately seven years ago. We currently have a contract to publish them with Brill ," a publisher of scholarly books, said Ryan Stokes, a professor of the Old Testament at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. "Hopefully, the volume will be available in the next year."Another four unpublished fragments are at Azusa Pacific University include writings from the biblical books of Daniel, Leviticus and Deuteronomy. These seem to have been bought from the Kando family.
When Southwestern purchased the fragments seven years ago, the seminary stated in its news releases that the fragments included writings from the biblical books of Exodus, Leviticus, Daniel, Psalms and Deuteronomy. According to these past statements, one of the fragments holds passages from Leviticus 18, a biblical passage that forbids incest and homosexuality.
A third batch of 15 fragments was sold by a company called Les Enluminures reputedly were once in the collection of Bruce Ferrini, a collector in Ohio who died in 2010.
A number of Dead Sea Scroll fragments in America have already been published. These include 13 fragments that were published last year in the book "Dead Sea Scrolls Fragments in the Museum Collection" (Brill, 2016) and are now in the collection of the Museum of the Bible, which is set to open in November 2017 in Washington, D.C., just three blocks from the U.S. Capitol. [The Holy Land: 7 Amazing Archaeological Finds]
In the book, scholars noted a number of suspicious features that might indicate the fragments are forgeries. The 13 scrolls were purchased in four lots from anonymous sellers between 2009 and 2014, according to the book. William Kando told Live Science that while a few fragments may have come from his family's collection, not all of them are from the Kandos. However, the case for forgery is not settled. Ada Yardeni, a professor at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who is in an expert in the paleography of the Dead Sea Scrolls (the study of their handwriting), told Live Science that her analysis indicated that all 13 fragments are authentic. Curators at the Museum of the Bible said that they are treating the scroll fragments at their institution as potential forgeries and are conducting scientific tests on them. The curators said they also plan to address the issue of authenticating Dead Sea Scroll fragments in the museum display.