Tales of saviours and iconoclasts. On the provenance of "the Dead Sea Scrolls of Buddhism"


  • Josephine Munch Rasmussen Department of Religion, Philosophy and History. University of Agder
  • Årstein Justnes Department of Religion, Philosophy and History. University of Agder




Schøyen collection (Norway), Ancient Buddhist manuscripts, Dead Seas Scrolls of Buddhism, cultural property, provenance research, provenance narratives, antiquities market, illicit antiquities trade, illicit trafficking of cultural goods, conflict antiquities trade


Academic research on newly discovered ancient Buddhist manuscripts is largely based on objects that come from the antiquities market and to a much lesser degree on objects coming from documented and controlled archaeological excavations. Despite their being unprovenanced, collectors and scholars often present such objects with narratives mimicking provenance. The use of the label "Dead Sea Scrolls" attached to archaeological material without connections to Judaism or early Christianity is a prevalent example of this scholarly praxis. In this article, we deconstruct provenance narratives associated with the undocumented Buddhist manuscripts in the Schøyen Collection and discuss their implications for research on these manuscripts and beyond.


On cover:
ANNIBALE CARRACCI (BOLOGNA 1560 - ROME 1609), An Allegory of Truth and Time c. 1584-1585.
Oil on canvas | 130,0 x 169,6 cm. (support, canvas/panel/str external) | RCIN 404770
Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2021.




How to Cite

Rasmussen, J. M. . and Justnes, Årstein (2021) “quot”;, Acta ad archaeologiam et artium historiam pertinentia, 32(18 N.S.), pp. 125–146. doi: 10.5617/acta.9023.