The museum, the brainchild of evangelical Christian businessman Steve Green, opened last year in Washington near the National Mall. The pieces, subjected to scientific tests in Germany, were deemed to have “characteristics inconsistent with ancient origin,” the museum said in a statement.
“Though we had hoped the testing would render different results, this is an opportunity to educate the public on the importance of verifying the authenticity of rare biblical artifacts,” chief museum curatorial officer Jeffrey Kloha said.
The Dead Sea Scrolls are a series of fragments from approximately 930 manuscripts discovered near the Dead Sea in modern Israel during the late 1940s and 1950s.
Dating back to the late third century B.C. and first century A.D., the scrolls provided academics with insights into Judaism at the time Christianity was born.
Doubts were raised as to the authenticity of the fragments held by the museum prior to its opening, due to a soaring increase in forgeries designed to fool wealthy American evangelical Christians, such as Green.
Experts estimate that as many as 70 forged fragments of scrolls have been traded on the antiquities market since 2002, according to CNN.
The museum said it would swap the fakes with three other fragments (but even those may not be real).
“Exhibit labels will continue to inform guests that there have been questions raised about the authenticity of these fragments, and that further research will be conducted,” the museum said.