more on ‘writing the dead sea scrolls’

With Shrine of the Book curator Adolfo Roitman (left), Professor Cargill looks at the longest segment of the actual Isaiah Scroll, the oldest copy of any book of the Bible known today. Only a few select scholars are allowed access to the document.

With Shrine of the Book curator Adolfo Roitman (left), Professor Cargill looks at the longest segment of the actual Isaiah Scroll, the oldest copy of any book of the Bible known today. Only a few select scholars are allowed access to the document.

the ucla press room has a short writeup by meg sullivan on my coming nat geo documentary probing the question of who wrote the dead sea scrolls. the documentary will appear on national geographic channel, tuesday, july 27, 2010 at 9:00 PM. you can read more about the show here or preview clips form the show here.

writing the dead sea scrolls to air july 27, 2010 at 9:00 pm on national geographic

Writing the Dead Sea Scrolls on Nat GeoWriting the Dead Sea Scrolls” will air on Tuesday, July 27, 2010 at 9:00 PM on the National Geographic Channel. The NatGeo website has complete details of the show, including a synopsis of the program, photos, quick facts, and video clips from the beginning and the end of the show.

I mentioned my trip to Israel and the West Bank earlier this year to make this program in a previous post.

National Geographic Israel previously featured the UCLA Qumran Visualization Project in 2008. The QVP resulted in the digital model of Qumran, a 3D virtual reconstruction of Qumran that was a central component of my doctoral research at UCLA. The UCLA Experiential Technologies Center website has a description of the Qumran project, complete with a video introducing the project, which can be viewed in the virtual reality visualization portal on UCLA’s campus.

update: jim barfield and the copper scroll project appear on travel channel

Jim Barfield and Michael Arbuthnot on the Travel Channel

Jim Barfield appears on the Travel Channel with Michael Arbuthnot

Jimmy D. Barfield and the Copper Scroll Project are back. After disappearing for nearly a year, Jimmy D. (and yes, he now refers to himself in the third-person now as ‘Jimmy D.’ – see the video) has made an appearance on a Travel Channel show hosted by marine archaeologist Michael Arbuthnot entitled: Secret Worlds with Michael Arbuthnot: The Mystery of the Copper Scroll. While little to no information appears on the Travel Channel’s Website about the show, Barfield’s ideological cohorts over at The JerUSAlem Connection are promoting Barfield’s appearance. (Be sure to read their related article on the same page entitled ‘Islam and the Left: two sides of the same coin.”)

The opening scene is an interview with Indy-branded tour guide Danny “the Digger” Herman, and it closes with an entire segment devoted to Jimmy Barfield and his theories about the Copper Scroll. In between, we learn how to smoke a hookah, go scuba diving in Caesarea Maritima, go mud bathing in the Dead Sea, and ride camels. The show did have a couple of scholars, namely Alison Schofield of the University of Denver and Shimon Gibson of the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, both of whom provided background information about the Dead Sea Scrolls and archaeology.

An organization called Biblical Productions commented extensively on the making of the project:

Morningstar Entertainment, a production company from Los Angeles, sent another crew in July this year to investigate the mysterious Copper Scroll of the Dead Sea Scrolls for their highly anticipated new show “Secret Worlds”. After having previously shot in Israel and Jordan for the “Knights Templar” and “Dead Sea Scrolls” episodes, their archaeologist and host Michael Arbuthnot now concentrated on solving the riddle of this fascinating inscription.

Biblical Productions was the local production manager for the entire shoot and took the crew to fascinating desert locations and fabulous experts. Why was the scroll written on copper? Is it a real treasure map? Who can help us understand the mysterious inscriptions and who wrote it? These were just a few questions the crew set out to answer in this quest, in which Biblical Productions took them from the impressive Hyrcania Tunnel in a desert military zone, to the Qumran Caves where the scrolls were found; to Acre and finally to Jerusalem. Along the way they interviewed and discussed ideas with several experts such as Shimon Gibson, Danny Herman, Steven Pfann and Jim Barfield; the latter an inspirational fire fighter from Texas who has made it his mission to solve the riddle of the scroll. The crew furthermore filmed one of Dr. Stephen Pfann’s researchers who traced the methods of the inscribing process by inscribing a copper scroll all on her own – with astonishing results.

Copper Scroll Project of Facebook

Copper Scroll Project uses Facebook to try and get people to call or write the Travel Channel and ask them to do more with Jimmy Barfield.

One comment: As I have stated in the past (see this post for a summary of the scholarly critiques against Barfield’s nonsense) listing Jimmy D. Barfield as an ‘expert’ in this show makes a mockery of archaeology, of the show, its producers (Morningstar Entertainment), and of the Travel Channel. I am all for the production of documentaries that discuss archaeology and the Bible (full disclosure: I have appeared in a number of them), but a production company creating documentaries about the Bible and archaeology has an obligation not to pass on nonsensical theories as credible, nor the theories’ peddlers as ‘experts.’ In this regard, Morningstar and the Travel Channel have failed miserably. They gave air time to Barfield, which he will now turn around and use to raise funds and promote his religious agenda. (Barfield is already taking ‘pre-orders’ on a self-published e-book on his Copper Scroll Project website. Likewise, Copper Scroll Project folks are encouraging people to contact the Travel Channel and tell them how much they liked the show on Facebook.) They have done a disservice to the public by equating Barfield’s admittedly amateur musings with real scholarship. And they have done a disservice to scholarship, setting back yet again many concerned scholars’ desire to provide quality, verifiable information to the public.

If you want to see and hear the archaeological ‘expert’ yourself, watch his video.

I do have one final question about the brief reconstruction of Qumran shown during the episode. Specifically, where did the producers get it? It appears to be a mutilated modified version of some otherwise pretty good research, although I can’t quite place where I’ve seen those film clips before. I recognize those camera angles from somewhere… that color palette… the interpretation and building layout… that background… I can’t quite place it.

jimmy barfield appears on the travel channel

Jimmy D. Barfield

Jimmy D. Barfield lectures about the Copper Scroll.

Jimmy D. Barfield and the Copper Scroll Project are back making noise again. After lying low for a year, Jimmy D. (and yes, he now refers to himself in the third-person now as ‘Jimmy D.’ – see the video) is making an appearance on a Travel Channel show hosted by marine archaeologist Michael Arbuthnot entitled: Secret Worlds with Michael Arbuthnot: The Mystery of the Copper Scroll. And of course, their friends at The JerUSAlem Connection are promoting Barfield’s appearance. (Be sure to read their related article on the same page entitled ‘Islam and the Left: two sides of the same coin.”)

The Copper Scroll Project is also now selling a self-published e-book on their copper scroll project website.

I’ll watch the show and report back later. From the opening scene – an interview with Indy-clone and tour guide Danny “the Digger” Herman – I have a feeling I’ll either be laughing or shaking my head.

I do have one question about the brief reconstruction of Qumran shown during the episode. Specifically, where did they get it? It appears to be a modified version of some pretty good research.

a one man ventriloquist: glenn beck’s misrepresentation of the dead sea scrolls

Glenn Beckyou have got to be absolutely kidding me.

joel mentioned it. jim brought it to my attention. and now i must vomit.

just when you thought glenn beck couldn’t get any stupider, this one-man intellectual gulf oil spill has spewed forth yet another gusher of sheer misinformation madness. my first inclination was to blow off mr. beck with a response in the form of a quote from the adam sandler cult classic, billy madison:

Mr. Madison Beck, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

however, because glenn beck chose to tread on the treacherous triumvirate of biblical studies, archaeology, and religion that is the dead sea scrolls, i feel compelled, nay, obligated in my role as a member of an apparent scholarly squad of biblical ‘discovery’ debunkers to respond.

first, let me assure you that i have no political or anti-conservative bent. i am a political moderate, with an appreciation of pundits on both sides. there are smart liberals and there are smart conservatives; glenn beck is neither. mr. beck is not as cunning as bill o’reilly, not as witty as keith olbermann, not as smart as rush limbaugh, and not as hot (intellectually) as rachel maddow. glenn beck lacks the political acumen of george will, the savvy of paul begala, the objective demeanor of juan williams, the strategic humor of james carville, the ingenuity of thomas friedman, the inquisitive journalistic tenacity of steve inskeep, the experience of david gergen, the brains of jeff greenfield, and the influence of matt drudge. rather, our friend mr. beck, apparently suffering from diarrhea of the mouth, is little more than an annoying sideshow – an overly dramatic, undereducated, sub-populist, train wreck, that makes the otherwise media-wise rupert murdoch look like a fool for signing him.

so what has mr. beck said that has so roused my intellectual ire? beck recently touched a nerve – a nerve i’ve sworn to defend – by pontificating upon the dead sea scrolls. beck, who apparently feels that his single theology class at yale before dropping out qualifies him to expound on the scrolls, recently made comments so utterly and fantastically false, that i dropped what i was doing and began to write this response.

in his amateurish attempt to imitate and channel the dilettantish ways of jim barfield, simcha jacobovichi, ron wyatt, noah’s ark ministries international, and vendyl jones, beck invoked the dead sea scrolls in a nonsensical rant that began with comparing children to empty clay pots and ended with the recitation of portions of the declaration of independence.

A Fragment of the Dead Sea Scrollslisten as beck speaks concerning things about which he knows nothing (beginning at the 0:36 second mark) and read along:

Beck: You know the… Dead Sea Scrolls. You know what they are? Stu, do you know what the Dead Sea Scrolls are? …

Stu: Well, of course I do.

Beck: No, come on. Most people don’t. I’m not…

Stu: I heard of them. I don’t really know.

Beck: You don’t really know, do you. You have no why they were there.

Stu: Nu uh.

Beck: Sarah, average person doesn’t know. Any idea? Take a guess on what, why the Dead Sea Scrolls are there, anything else.

Sarah: Something religious.

Beck: OK good. Even though I’ve explained this on this program a couple of times, I’m glad to see that, I’m glad to see that even the people that work with me everyday don’t even listen.

Stu: Well, there’s, we were actually talking about American Idol last night. The guy won! It was unbelievable.

Beck: All right. So here’s what happened. When Constantine decided he was going to uh… cobble together an army, um, he did the uh… Council of uh… Nicaea, right, Pat?

Pat: Yea.

Beck: Council of Nicaea. Um… and what they did is brought all of the religious figures, uhh, together, all the Christians and then they said, “Ok, let’s uh, put together the Apostles’ Creed, let’s, you know, you guys do it.” So they brought all their religious scripture together, and that’s when the Bible was first bound and everything else. And then they said, “Anybody that disagrees with this is a heretic and… off with their head!” Well, that’s what the Dead Sea Scrolls are. The Dead Sea Scrolls are those scriptures that people had at the time that they said, “They are destroying all of this truth.” Whether it’s truth or not is, is up to the individual, but that… at that time those people thought that this was something that needed to be preserved and so they rolled up the scrolls and they put ’em in clay pots and they, they put ’em in the back of caves where no one could find them. They were hidden scripture because everything was being destroyed that disagreed with the Council of Nicaea and Constantine. That’s what those things are.

this is absolutely, fundamentally, unequivocally false! allow me to make two key points:

  • the dead sea scrolls were written between approximately 200 bce and 70 ce. the council of nicaea met in 325 ce. not even close.
  • there is nothing whatsoever christian about the dead sea scrolls. no portion of the new testament is represented in the scrolls.

i don’t know where to begin. arguing that the dead sea scrolls were hidden to hide them from the council of nicaea is like arguing that we won the war of independence over the british because of our advanced computer technology; the timing is off a couple of hundred years. perhaps glenn beck is confusing the dead sea scrolls with the nag hammadi library, a cache of early christian gnostic texts written in coptic dating to the third and fourth centuries ce and discovered in the upper egypt town of nag hammadi in 1945. but of course, facts are secondary in the mind of glenn beck. what really matters to the likes of beck is massaging and distorting these facts until they fit whatever preconceived argument he’s already formulated in his mind.

in this regard, the comments glenn beck made about the dead sea scrolls closely resemble the deteriorated state in which the dead sea scrolls were discovered: they came forth from the mouth of a dark, seemingly bottomless cave, covered in bat guano, and smelling like bullshit, which is exactly what glenn beck has offered up in his latest attempt to portray himself as a biblical historian. the difference, of course, between the dead sea scrolls and glenn beck is that the dead sea scrolls at least tried to keep their thoughts and ideas hidden away to themselves.

in attempting to discuss religion and the dead sea scrolls, glenn beck has achieved something astonishing. he is a one-man ventriloquist: his lips are moving, but he’s actually talking out of his ass.

denied! golb case heads to trial

Raphael and Norman Golb

Raphael Golb and his father, University of Chicago historian Dr. Norman Golb. Raphael Golb is charged with multiple felony and misdemeanor counts of forgery, identity theft, impersonation, and aggravated harassment of several Dead Sea Scrolls scholars.

the raphael golb case is headed to trial.

on wednesday, february 24, 2010, judge carol berkman rejected raphael golb’s motions to dismiss the charges against him and rejected his motion to suppress evidence collected from his home and computers during the execution of the search warrant during his arrest.

in fact, not a single one of the 51 felony and misdemeanor counts against golb was dismissed. apparently, the judge in the case did not appreciate or accept golb’s attempt to use the protected speech afforded him in his motions to dismiss the case to further attack scholars he had already smeared in previous attacks, like professor lawrence schiffman of new york university.

this means that the emails sent between raphael golb and his brother, joel golb, his mother, ruth golb, and his father, university of chicago oriental institute historian norman golb, will be on full display for all to read and hear during the trial. some of raphael golb’s email correspondence involved norman golb’s university of chicago ‘n-golb@uchicago.edu‘ work email address. likewise, the development of the entire smear campaign over the past three years can systematically revisited and the coordinated efforts of norman and raphael golb can be demonstrated during the trial.

raphael golb was arrested on march 5, 2009 on multiple felony and misdemeanor counts of identity theft, forgery, criminal impersonation, aggravated harassment, and the unauthorized use of a computer in a bizarre, multi-year attempt to influence an intellectual debate involving his father, norman golb, by creating multiple aliases to smear publicly and even criminally impersonate scholars that disagreed with his father.

the trial date has been set for september 13, 2010. the defense in the case did not want to try the case in march of 2010, nor in july of 2010, but requested the delayed september date. this will place the trial just before the annual meeting of all biblical and jewish studies professors at the society of biblical literature meeting in november, as well as the annual meeting of the american schools of oriental research, a professional meeting of all archaeologists dealing with the near east.

there is always the possibility that raphael golb pleads guilty prior to the trial, but as it now stands, i and several others will begin testifying in the case september 13, 2010.

ucla digital karnak model reviewed by british museum curator

The Digital Karnak Project was designed and built at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) under the direction of Dr. Diane Favro (director of the ETC) and Dr. Willeke Wendrich (editor-in-chief of the UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology).

the ucla digital karnak model has been reviewed by the curator of the department of ancient egypt and sudan at the british museum, neal spencer. the egyptian complex at karnak is the latest digital reconstruction to come out of the ucla experiential technologies center lab. previous models include the roman forum including the colosseum (italy), qumran (west bank), the cathedral at santiago de compostela (spain), and the hypermedia project.

spencer states:

Karnak represents a perfect case study for using virtual reconstructions, satellite imagery and interactive tools to allow interested parties to explore the archaeological site in many different ways. Karnak lends itself to periodisation, something very difficult to visualise when actually among the jumbled up ruins of the temple, with late phase building shrouding much of what went before, and many buildings having been dismantled or moved, even in ancient times. The timemap feature is particularly useful at disentangling the complex construction histories, with maps overlaid on a Google Earth image, and pop-up boxes to allow further investigation of individual buildings. Each ‘feature’ or monument is then associated with an archive, comprising model rendering, photographs (new and old), videos and object references.

read the review here.

i wonder if this talk will be any good? magness on cargill

Dr. Jodi Magness, the Kenan Distinguished Professor of Teaching Excellence in Early Judaism at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, will give a lecture at Brite Divinity School on Thursday, February 25, 2010 entitled, "Robert Cargill's Qumran Digital Project."

Dr. Jodi Magness, the Kenan Distinguished Professor of Teaching Excellence in Early Judaism at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, will give a lecture at Brite Divinity School on Thursday, February 25, 2010 entitled, "Robert Cargill's Qumran Digital Project."

brite divinity school has announced that dr. jodi magness, the kenan distinguished professor of teaching excellence in early judaism at the university of north carolina, chapel hill, will give a lecture in the moore building, room 201, on thursday, february 25, 2010 at 11:00 am entitled, ‘robert cargill’s qumran digital project.’

i’m wondering if she will view my research in a favorable light, or in a critical manner like she did at the recent new orleans sbl book review session, where she was among a panel of scholars that reviewed my book? will she take issue with my results (that qumran was established as a hasmonean fort and later reoccupied and expanded by a jewish sectarian community responsible for some of the dead sea scrolls in the caves nearest qumran), or my digital reconstruction modeling methodology (which is a completely transparent (via wireframes) reconstruction of all interpretations of all published scholars of every archaeological locus, distinguished by time periods), or both?

will dr. magness continue to argue that qumran was built as a sectarian settlement from the ground up?  will she argue that the dead sea scrolls were all written by essenes at qumran? some?

attend the lecture and find out!

for some background, read vol. 72, no. 1 in near eastern archaeology here. order the book online at gorgias or amazon.

i can’t wait to hear the podcast!

perhaps i’ll use my forthcoming march lecture in philadelphia entitled, ‘why the dead sea scrolls still matter’ to respond a bit. we’ll see :) -bc


update: also, don’t miss dr. magness’ main lecture on ‘the archaeology of qumran and the dead sea scrolls,’ thursday evening, february 25, 2010 from 7:00 -8:30 pm at the kelly alumni center at brite divinity school (texas christian university).

and i am told by brite that there will be no podcast. perhaps someone in the audience could tweet or blog the lectures?

chicago maroon: e-mails in dead sea scrolls case may implicate prof norman golb

ilana kowarski of the chicago maroon (the university of chicago’s newspaper) has run a new story on the raphael golb / dead sea scrolls / identity theft scandal entitled, ‘e-mails in scrolls case may implicate prof.’ university of chicago oriental institute historian, norman golb, is quoted regarding the arrest and prosecution of his son, raphael golb, on multiple felony and misdemeanor counts of identity theft, forgery, criminal impersonation, the unauthorized use of a computer, and aggravated harassment.

the article states:

Raphael allegedly targeted and harassed intellectuals who disputed his father’s theory that the Dead Sea Scrolls originate in Jerusalem, rather than in Qumran, where the Scrolls were found. He allegedly harassed scholars by disseminating false accusations about them in public blogs and through e-mails to their friends and colleagues. The prosecution wrote that this allegation is supported by e-mails to other members of the family, including Dr. Golb, in a January 19 pre-trial motion.

norman golb responded with a cleverly-worded comment:

Dr. Golb wrote in a statement Friday that the evidence does not prove his involvement.

that is to say, norman golb is not denying that he was involved, but rather is saying that the evidence released in the new york district attorney’s response to his son’s motion to dismiss the charges against him does not prove his involvement.

norman golb’s response is not unlike the response he gave to canada’s national post in response to san diego natural history museum director mick hager, when hager stated:

“It seems curious at best, that untraceable e-mails were sent to the board of directors of the San Diego Natural History Museum prior to the opening of our Dead Sea scrolls exhibition, making unfounded claims and citing Norman Golb as an expert. Even more curious is that the same thing happened in Seattle, Kansas City, Charlotte and now Toronto.”

to this, golb replied via a letter to the editor of canada’s national post:

“I am unaware of any facts supporting these unusual assertions.”

that is to say, golb then did not deny involvement prior to his son’s arrest, but stated that he was ‘unaware of any facts’ to support that allegation. of course, once his son was arrested, the ‘facts supporting these unusual assertions’ were made public via indictments and other publicly available court documents. thus, golb’s statement to the chicago maroon is not a denial, but rather is his understanding of the evidence that will be presented in the coming trial of his son. he feels that the facts/evidence does not prove his involvement. a jury will decide.

likewise, according to the article, norman golb is now claiming that he is the victim in this case:

Dr. Golb suggested Cargill had taken issue with a sour turn in a scholarly debate, leading to the court case. “As the consequence of a long-standing academic dispute, a campaign of personal attacks is now being waged against me and my family. Claimed ‘evidence’ is being grossly distorted for unworthy purposes and removed from context,” Dr. Golb wrote in the statement.

so apparently, as long as one is on the offensive attacking other scholars behind a veil on anonymity, it is a legitimate endeavor. but, as soon as the curtain is pulled back and the true identity of those behind the green curtain is exposed, and the perpetrators are rightly prosecuted for their alleged crimes, this is a personal attack.  this is a victim mentality at it’s finest. go figure.

norman golb also stated:

“It is perfectly normal for any academic family to express indignation in the case of its members being silenced, excluded, and misrepresented or, to all appearances, plagiarized. In the present case, fair-minded people with knowledge of the circumstances will quite readily come to understand who the victims and the victimizers are.”

again, golb is apparently attempting to frame his son’s defense about his ongoing claim that he and his views have been unfairly ‘silenced, excluded, and misrepresented or, to all appearances, plagiarized,’ and not about the crimes allegedly committed by his son, raphael, in this specific case. it appears as if golb is either attempting to justify his and his son’s actions as just retaliation for the treatment he believes he has received over the past few decades, or, that he is attempting to divert attention from the criminal charges in the case against his son by arguing the defense one might expect in a civil suit against him, his sons, and his employer, the university of chicago.

it is also interesting to note that this is the first time (that i can recall) that norman golb himself suggests that he has been ‘to all appearances, plagiarized.’ his son accused someone of it, but this is the first time i’ve seen norman golb himself use the word in this case.

i replied in the article:

“A little professional jealousy can be a powerful motivator for scholars, encouraging them to focus on their work and produce new and better scholarship. However, when this jealousy, greed, or malice reaches a point where an individual is furtively, yet tenaciously and ubiquitously attempting to smear another scholar to the extent that Raphael Golb and perhaps members of his family are alleged to have done, it runs the danger of crossing into civilly actionable and even criminally actionable activity,” Cargill said in an e-mail interview.

the article also mentions one of the most implicating emails in the scandal:

The court documents allege Raphael sent e-mails to his brother and mother from alias accounts, including one dated July 24, 2008, that says, “By the way, if Dad has some comment on the latest Charles Gadda [an alleged alias of Raphael’s] exchange, he can send it through your e-mail, that way there would be no trace of it in his account.”

the full extent of the publicly available evidence against golb is available here and here.


interestingly, the article did not include some of the answers i gave in response to questions asked by the article’s author regarding the case.

i was asked about our notifying the oriental institute and university of chicago administrators about norman golb’s activities. specifically, i was asked about an exchange of letters between me and oi administrators and the university’s general counsel. the questions and answers were as follows:

>>When were letters sent to the Oriental Institute?

we first contacted the oi about norman golb in late in 2007. beyond that, i have no comment.

>>What did those letters say?

out of respect for the private correspondence between us and the oi, i shall not divulge the contents of the email.

>>To your knowledge, did the Oriental Institute take any action as a result of this correspondence?

i have no knowledge of whether or not the oi or the university of chicago have opened an ethical misconduct investigation or a criminal activity investigation into the actions of norman golb.

shortly after our exchange of letters in feb. 2009, the oi promptly removed a document dr. golb had written about me from the oi website. a few weeks later, raphael golb was arrested.

(the oi’s announcement noting the removal of the document is here: http://oi.uchicago.edu/pdf/san_diego_virtual_reality_2007.pdf)

>>If the allegations against Raphael Golb are true, do you think Prof. Golb or the University of Chicago are at all responsible for the alleged crimes?

no comment.

chronicle of higher ed asks what’s best done with the dead sea scrolls

An infrared image of a fragment of Deuteronomy 27, part of Azusa Pacific U.'s Dead Sea Scrolls acquisition.

An infrared image of a fragment of Deuteronomy 27, part of Azusa Pacific U.'s Dead Sea Scrolls acquisition.

a new article by jennifer howard of the chronicle of higher education asks an important question: ‘what’s best done with the dead sea scrolls?’ in the article, howard examines the pros and cons of religiously-affiliated universities acquiring fragments of the dead sea scrolls for the sake of publicity.

But for some scholars, the purchases are more a cause for concern than for celebration. Will such acquisitions by academic institutions, even though they are made legally, help drive up the market for looted antiquities and rare artifacts? And is the boost to scholarship really worth the large sums of money those fragments cost?

she also makes note of my recent satirical blog post announcing the acquisition of some dss fragments by other previously unknown dead sea scrolls-centered institutions.

Some scholars feel queasy at the thought that universities will shell out that kind of money in these hard-pressed times, even for objects as symbolically and historically important as pieces of the Dead Sea Scrolls. On his blog, Robert R. Cargill, a Biblical archaeologist, imagined “a race of archaeological one-upmanship,” in which institutions compete to scoop up high-profile objects in order to boost their academic reputations.

Mr. Cargill is the institutional technology coordinator of the Center for Digital Humanities at the University of California at Los Angeles, and the chief architect and designer of UCLA’s Qumran Visualization Project. “Universities are charged with educating people, not acquiring cool artifacts,” he said in an interview. “If someone gives a university something, OK. But universities should spend the bulk of their money on educating students and not on cheap public-relations ploys in an attempt to increase credibility overnight with the purchase of an antiquity.” Mr. Cargill also worries that high-profile acquisitions will encourage would-be looters to see what else they can dig up and put on the market.

jennifer did an excellent job with the article and it is certainly worth the read.

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