When not found in a controlled excavation, any ancient inscription naturally raises the question, Is it genuine or is it a forgery? Usually, the task of deciding falls to experts in ancient inscriptions called epigraphers (although scientific tests of the materials can also be helpful in many cases). The epigraphers’ task is not an easy one, and sometimes even they will disagree.

Since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the question has been raised once again about the authenticity of the so-called Shapira strips. Some scholars have suggested that they may well have been genuine.1 Therefore, the editor of BAR asked me to reexamine the matter, which I was pleased to do because I had long wanted to make my own judgment regarding this question, especially as I had twice recognized as genuine inscriptions that were called “forgeries” by the great German scholar Mark Lidzbarski.2 Perhaps the Shapira strips would be another case.

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