It can’t be easy being Hershel Shanks. As publisher of Biblical Archaeology Review he has done more to popularize archaeology than Indiana Jones. And, with his penchant for pushing the boundaries of that essentially conservative science, he has brought upon himself more enemies. Nothing angers them more than his support for the publishing of unprovenanced (private market) antiquities as he did a few years ago, when he backed the belief that a recent find was the ossuary of James, the brother of Jesus. This brought a blue ribbon panel down upon his head, ending with the august Israel Antiquities Authority declaring the inscription a fraud.
Shanks brings the pugnacity of an educated amateur into the guarded garden of academe, and for that he will never be welcome. But, that has never stopped him from telling a good story, and The Copper Scroll is certainly that. The only one of the “Dead Sea Scrolls” written on metal, and the only one not dealing with a religious subject, this is a tale worthy of fiction, if it wasn’t true. The contents of the scroll are nothing less than a treasure map, with most assuming it refers to the riches of the Second Temple , secreted away for the millennia in order to protect them from the plundering Romans of 70 C.E. Shanks details the background and mystery surrounding this artifact, and will probably launch more than one excited seeker on its trail.