>Jordan Claims Ownership of the Dead Sea Scrolls

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According to an article published in The Jerusalem Post, Jordan has asked Canada to seize and return some fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls on display in Toronto. Jordan claims ownership of the Scrolls, claiming that Israel took possession of them illegally during the Six Day War.

The following is an excerpt from the article:

Jordan has asked Canada to seize the selected parchments of the 2,000-year-old Dead Sea Scrolls that have been on display in Toronto, invoking international law in a bid to keep the artifacts out of Israel’s hands until their “disputed ownership” is settled, the Toronto-based Globe and Mail reported last week.

In its request, Jordan invoked the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, which is concerned with safeguarding cultural property during wartime.

The 1954 convention requires signatories “to take into its custody cultural property imported into its territory either directly or indirectly from any occupied territory.”

The Jordanians claim Israel acted illegally when it seized the scrolls from the Rockefeller Museum, located in eastern Jerusalem, during the Six Day War.

On Sunday, Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum ended its exhibit “Words That Changed the World,” which featured scroll fragments on loan from the Israel Antiquities Authority.

In the six months the scrolls were on display in Toronto, they sparked an unprecedented number of visitors, as well as political demonstrations.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor called Jordan’s claim ridiculous.

“The Dead Sea Scrolls are an intrinsic part of Jewish heritage and religion. The scrolls have no relation to Jordan or the Jordanian people,” said Palmor.

“Moreover, Jordan’s occupation of the West Bank was never recognized by the international community and the kingdom relinquished all claims on the territories back in the ’80s. On what grounds are they trying to lay claims to the scrolls, which are a cornerstone of Jewish cultural history?”

The Jordanians aren’t the only ones trying to get their hands on the ancient scrolls. Last April, the Palestinian Authority appealed to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to cancel the show. The Palestinian Authority and Toronto-based Muslim activists claimed that the scrolls were “stolen” from Palestinian territory and illegally obtained when Israel annexed east Jerusalem.

The Dead Sea Scrolls are made up of roughly 900 documents and biblical texts and are considered one of the greatest archaeological finds of the 20th century.

The scrolls were first discovered in 1947, by Beduin in underground caves in and around Qumran, on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea. Excavations that took place between 1947 and 1956 discovered a total of 11 caves.

The texts include some of the only known surviving copies of biblical texts made before 100 BCE, and preserve evidence of Jewish life during the Second Temple period.

Read the article in its entirety here.

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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2 Responses to >Jordan Claims Ownership of the Dead Sea Scrolls

  1. Nate says:

    >This is heart-breaking. These writings belong to the Jewish people, and thus to the care of the only Jewish state and NOT to a nation that once used Jewish tombstones for urinals.

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  2. >Nate,I agree with you. What Jordan and the Palestinians want is to claim that the land is theirs and that the people who lived in the Dead Sea area were not Jewish. Jordan has no claim on the Dead Sea Scrolls. It is all political!Claude Mariottini

    Like

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