Sunday, June 17, 2018

More on the supposed lost Jobar Synagogue scrolls

ANOTHER UPDATE: Jewish artifacts disappear from Damascus in fog of Syria war. Jewish artifacts, including ancient parchment torahs from one of the world's oldest synagogues, have gone missing from the Syrian capital amid the tumult of ongoing civil war (AP). That synagogue is, of course, the synagogue of Jobar. Earlier this year I noted reports that ancient artifacts, notably Torah scrolls, had been removed from the Jobar Synagogue during the war. The posts are here and here. Some of the reports claimed the removals were connected with "terrorist groups" and/or Israeli and Turkish intelligence and/or (indirectly) the Syrian Army. None of the reports seemed especially credible, although they could not be disproved either.

Now this AP report weighs in with much more detail from "activist sources." The artifacts were taken by rebels for safe keeping, but some artifacts (notably Torah scrolls written on gazelle hides) have since disappeared. Some of the missing artifacts may have surfaced in Turkey. Some of the missing artifacts, it is claimed, may themselves have been fakes. Again, an Israeli connection is hinted at.

This is a convoluted story that is very short of verification. I emphasize that I take no position on whether any of it is true. But I am keeping an eye on it to see if anything develops from it.

For what it's worth, there have been many reports over the years of artifacts being seized by the authorities in Turkey. Some of these artifacts have turned out to be obvious fakes or relatively recent objects that were not as important as the initial reports claimed. I collected links to these stories in this post last October. There was a report on December of a 700-year-old Torah scroll being seized in Turkey, but this turned out to be bogus.

Perhaps of more interest is a report from April of 2017 that Turkish authorities seized a "gold-plated" Torah scroll written on gazelle skin. This Torah (I think it was the same one) was also reported to be 1,500 years old. I explained my reasons for some skepticism of the stories at the links.

The Jobar scrolls were supposed to be on gazelle skins too and some of them seem to stored in a silver receptacle at some point. But those are very tenuous possible links to the scroll in Turkey.

In short, right now we have a bunch of unverified stories. Maybe some of them are real and, if so, maybe some of the real ones are connected. We'll just have to see if any verification turns up. Watch this space.

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