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Canadian University Claims Dead Sea Scroll Fragments from Jordan

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McGill University here will seek the aid of the Government of Canada to force the Government of Jordan to comply with its agreement to deliver Dead Sea Scroll fragments purchased by the university in 1952 for $20,000. Dr. F. Cyril James, principal of the university, said today.

The fragments have been reconditioned and prepared for shipment but Jordanian officials have not given permission for shipment to Canada, Dean Stanley Frost of the University’s divinity faculty said. He added that he believed that the delay in shipment was partly due to a propaganda campaign by the United Arab Republic to the effect that Jordan has made the scrolls available at “bargain prices” to Israeli agents.

Dean Frost said there had been reports that Jordan planned to renege on delivery of fragments to the Vatican Library, the University of Manchester and other purchasers. It was understood that the Canadian Ambassador in Beirut, Lebanon and the British envoy in Amman, Jordan, have taken part in talks with Jordanian officials to achieve fulfillment of the 1952 contract.

“We have a legal and binding agreement with the Government of Jordan,” Dean Frost said, “and we cannot accept any unilateral decision not to deliver the scrolls.” He added that he visited Jordan a few months ago to examine the collection and that he had been assured an export license would be granted.

The collection purchased by the university is the largest group of Cave IV Dead Sea manuscripts slated to go outside the area. All of the fragments have been photographed and edited and they are to be published jointly by the McGill University Press, the Jordanian Museum of Antiquities and the Dominican Ecole Archeologique Francaise. They comprise 100 plates containing fragments ranging in size from two columns to pieces the size of a postage stamp.

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