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BAM Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und -prüfung

BAM Research on the Dead Sea Scrolls Fragments for the Museum of the Bible, Washington D.C.

BAM Research on the Dead Sea Scrolls Fragments for the Museum of the Bible, Washington D.C.
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Berlin, 26.10.2018. On 22 October 2018, the Museum of the Bible announced the results of the analysis of its five Dead Sea Scrolls fragments. At the request of the museum, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und -prüfung (BAM) conducted a battery of tests on the fragments. The results of BAM's analysis permit the conclusion that the five fragments display material characteristics that are not consistent with those whose origins are certain.

BAM has extensive expertise in the analysis of artefacts and cultural assets. This includes the non-destructive material analysis of dyes, writing & drawing materials, and organic writing substrates.

Background on the tests

In April 2017, BAM received an analysis request from the Museum of the Bible, Washington D.C. Prof. Dr. Ira Rabin from the Analysis of Artefacts and Cultural Assets division at BAM led the examination of five fragments reportedly associated with the Dead Sea Scrolls.

In an analysis, usually several non-destructive testing methods are conducted to determine the composition of the inks and the parchment. Generally, these tests try to determine if existing samples show any similarities to comparative samples.

"Scientific analysis can detect forgeries if materials were used that only existed after the supposed original was created," explains Prof. Dr. Rabin.

Analysis of artefacts and cultural assets at BAM

Prof. Dr. Oliver Hahn: "BAM has decades of experience and the necessary expertise to conduct such tests. For example, we extensively studied fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls between 2006 and 2010 within the frame of a dedicated research project."

The development and adaptation of non-destructive analytical methods makes them extremely valuable to extensively characterise the material composition of artefacts and cultural assets. Scientific material analysis methods provide important clues for answering historical and cultural questions that cannot be solved using the methods of the humanities alone.

In addition, it is often necessary to characterise environmental material damage in order to create suitable restoration or conservation strategies. The provision of support in natural science-related matters in restoring and conserving such assets is the main focus of the work of the Analysis of Artefacts and Cultural Assets division.

For more information about the analysis conducted for the Museum of the Bible and FAQs, please visit our website.

Venio Quinque, M.A., LL.M./LL.B. 
Head of Section Corporate Communications 
Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und -prüfung (BAM) 
Unter den Eichen 87 
12205 Berlin 
T: + 49 30 8104-1002 
F: + 49 30 8104-71002 

About BAM

BAM promotes safety in technology and chemistry. 
As a departmental research institute of the German Federal Ministry for Economic
Affairs and Energy, BAM performs research, testing and offers advisory support
to protect people, the environment and material goods. Its activity in the
fields of materials science, materials engineering and chemistry is focussed on
the technical safety of products and processes.

BAM's research is directed towards substances, materials, building elements,
components and facilities as well as natural and technical systems important for
the national economy and relevant to society. It also tests and assesses their
safe handling and operation. BAM develops and validates analysis procedures and
assessment methods, models and necessary standards and provides science-based
services for the German industry in a European and international framework.

Safety creates markets. 
BAM sets and represents high standards for safety in technology and chemistry
for Germany and its global markets to further develop the successful German
quality culture "Made in Germany".