A thread on the most (in)famous antiquities dealer in 19th-century Palestine, Moses Wilhelm Shapira
In the 1870s and early 1880s, Shapira had a shop on Christian St. (now generally called Christian Quarter Rd.), looking out on Hezekiah's Pool.

Photochrom image c. 1890s via Library of Congress
We know the exact location of the shop thanks to John Marco Allegro and Shlomo Guil (working from a novel by Shapira's daughter that describes it).
Shapira primarily sold tourist and pilgrim souvenirs: books, photographs, articles of olive-wood, albums of pressed flowers.
The shop was highly regarded for these items -- Baedeker's (1876) recommended it as the best in Jerusalem.
But what made Shapira famous were his antiquities and manuscripts.
Shapira sold hundreds of medieval & early modern manuscripts to the British Museum, the Bodleian, the Royal Library in Berlin . . .
. . . But he also sold literally thousands of fake antiquities.
Here's a stone he claimed in 1871 had an inscription commemorating Moses's conquest of Moab -- maybe written by Moses himself!
(Albert Socin in ZDMG 27, 1873)
Except that it was a Nabatean inscription . . . and a fake copy of one that had been published twice already:
Warren in PEF Quarterly Statement 1870
M. Levy in ZDMG 25, 1871
Here's the coffin of Samson (yes, the biblical Samson!) Shapira tried to entice the PEF with in 1877

(Clermont-Ganneau, Les fraudes archéologiques, 1885)
Shapira told one customer he had a Greek copy of the Bible from the time of Jesus; he told another that he had "Moabite parchments" describing their gods.
All made-up stories.
And between 1872 and 1877 he offered some 2,000 "Moabite" pots and clay sculptures, many with inscriptions -- all of them fake.
He managed to convince the Royal Museum in Berlin to buy about 1700 of these.
~mp https://www.flickr.com/photos/palestineexplorationfund/5226880822/
But Shapira is most famous of all for his supposed Moabite Deuteronomy that he tried to sell to the British Museum in 1883 -- failing to tell them that German scholars had already rejected it as fake.
The English would soon agree with them.
If you're interested in hearing more on Shapira's career, I'll be giving a public Zoom lecture on April 29th, 7pm Norway time (see the link for registration)
Join if you can!
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