This ministry has a museum in York, Nebraska, called The Clayton Museum of Ancient History. It features part of the extensive antiquity collection of Foster Stanback. The museum’s purpose is education, and the state of Nebraska has listed it as an important tourist attraction. In the years since the museum opened, we have received offers from people trying to sell us supposed valuable artifacts. There is always a danger in purchasing artifacts if their origin and authenticity can’t be proven. Recent Dead Sea Scroll frauds have shown that to be true.
Fakery is an ongoing problem. In the last 20 years, there have been 70 pieces of the Dead Sea Scrolls offered for sale on the antiquities market. Scientific studies have proven that many recently purchased fragments were frauds. The Museum of the Bible reported that all 16 of its prized fragments were fakes. Azusa Pacific University has concluded that the five fragments it bought for 1.3 million dollars are not authentic.
Dead Sea Scroll frauds and other fake antiquities are on the market because they sell for high prices. They are collectors’ market objects. While they have cash value from that standpoint, they are not being stolen or faked for religious purposes but for profit motives.
Yesterday, we talked about the Clayton Museum of Ancient History in York, Nebraska. To get more background on how that museum came to be, here is a five-minute conversation between John Clayton and Foster Stanback, the benefactor of the museum who assembled the collection of artifacts.
You can see an amazing collection of artifacts from the time of Christ and earlier in the Clayton Museum of Ancient History. That museum, located on the campus of York College in York, Nebraska, displays artifacts collected by Foster Stanback. One of the first questions we asked when this project began was how he secured the relics. The problem is that many collectors buy artifacts from black-market dealers who have either stolen the artifacts or faked them. Foster Stanback and the Clayton Museum wanted to ensure that items we displayed were secured from government-approved sources and validated by qualified experts.
Biblical Archaeological Review published an article (fall 2020 issue, page 6) about artifacts in the Museum of the Bible collected by Steve Green, the president of Hobby Lobby. Green spent massive amounts of money to secure artifacts that were “unprovenanced,” meaning that their origin and authenticity were unverified. In April of 2020, a study commissioned by the museum proved that all of the supposed Dead Sea Scroll fragments in its collection were fakes. Around the same time, the museum announced that 11,500 artifacts in their possession had been stolen from Iraq and Egypt and would be returned. Three years earlier, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency seized thousands of artifacts and fined Steve Green three million dollars for illegally bringing them into the United States. Green released a statement saying that when buying the items, “I have trusted the wrong people to guide me, and unwittingly dealt with unscrupulous dealers.”
Unprovenanced relics are an issue for scholars and for people who collect artifacts. You may wonder how all of this affects the Clayton Museum of Ancient History. First of all, Stanback’s collections have all been secured from government-approved sources and have been studied by scholars and proven to be authentic. Foster Stanback and the Clayton Museum are working for educational purposes, not financial interests. In the past two years, the museum has added a children’s interactive section. School groups come in regularly to learn the history of the Roman world at the time Jesus lived and the Church began.
Unfortunately, greed and a desire for fame have invaded the antiquities market. We can be thankful that Foster Stanback and the Clayton Museum seek to help people understand the history of the time in which Jesus lived.
The Nebraska Passport 2019 App has added the Clayton Museum to the list of interesting places to visit in Nebraska.
A few years ago a historical artifacts collector by the name of Foster Stanback made arrangements to build a museum at York College in York, Nebraska. The purpose was so that the general public could enjoy seeing the items in the Stanback collection. John Clayton and Foster Stanback have a long history together, and to honor that relationship Foster named it the Clayton Museum of Ancient History.
The museum is not only informative and educational, but the design of the museum and the quality of the exhibits is exceptional. The museum is devoted to the history of the ancient middle east and the Roman Empire. Since the museum opened, it has added a children’s interactive section. Young people and adults from all over come to the museum to learn and to be strengthened in their faith and knowledge of Old and New Testament history.
More than 10,000 people have visited the museum.The number of visitors will increase in 2019 because the Nebraska State Tourism Commission has selected the Clayton Museum of Ancient History as a Nebraska Passport Site for the Nebraska Passport 2019 app.
Foster Stanback is a collector of artifacts of historical significance. In 2015 he established a museum in York Nebraska to house many of those artifacts. Because of our long association with Foster, he honored our work together by naming it the Clayton Museum of Ancient History.
The Clayton Museum houses an amazing collection of items from the time of Christ and earlier. The museum focuses on ancient Mesopotamia and the Roman Empire. The oldest artifacts are an Egyptian mace head and an ax head, both approximately 5000 years old. You can see a 3500-year-old Egyptian toolkit comparable to what was used at the time the Israelites were slaves in Egypt.
The Roman collection from the first to third centuries is especially impressive since it includes everything from personal grooming items to weapons of war. You can see an authentic Roman gladius (sword), a Roman soldier’s helmet, and pieces of armor. A reconstructed Roman onager (a type of catapult) stands near the center of the museum. The displays help us to understand the conditions and way of life that existed in Biblical times and during the time of Christ.