update: jim barfield and the copper scroll project appear on travel channel

Jim Barfield and Michael Arbuthnot on the Travel Channel

Jim Barfield appears on the Travel Channel with Michael Arbuthnot

Jimmy D. Barfield and the Copper Scroll Project are back. After disappearing for nearly a year, Jimmy D. (and yes, he now refers to himself in the third-person now as ‘Jimmy D.’ – see the video) has made an appearance on a Travel Channel show hosted by marine archaeologist Michael Arbuthnot entitled: Secret Worlds with Michael Arbuthnot: The Mystery of the Copper Scroll. While little to no information appears on the Travel Channel’s Website about the show, Barfield’s ideological cohorts over at The JerUSAlem Connection are promoting Barfield’s appearance. (Be sure to read their related article on the same page entitled ‘Islam and the Left: two sides of the same coin.”)

The opening scene is an interview with Indy-branded tour guide Danny “the Digger” Herman, and it closes with an entire segment devoted to Jimmy Barfield and his theories about the Copper Scroll. In between, we learn how to smoke a hookah, go scuba diving in Caesarea Maritima, go mud bathing in the Dead Sea, and ride camels. The show did have a couple of scholars, namely Alison Schofield of the University of Denver and Shimon Gibson of the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, both of whom provided background information about the Dead Sea Scrolls and archaeology.

An organization called Biblical Productions commented extensively on the making of the project:

Morningstar Entertainment, a production company from Los Angeles, sent another crew in July this year to investigate the mysterious Copper Scroll of the Dead Sea Scrolls for their highly anticipated new show “Secret Worlds”. After having previously shot in Israel and Jordan for the “Knights Templar” and “Dead Sea Scrolls” episodes, their archaeologist and host Michael Arbuthnot now concentrated on solving the riddle of this fascinating inscription.

Biblical Productions was the local production manager for the entire shoot and took the crew to fascinating desert locations and fabulous experts. Why was the scroll written on copper? Is it a real treasure map? Who can help us understand the mysterious inscriptions and who wrote it? These were just a few questions the crew set out to answer in this quest, in which Biblical Productions took them from the impressive Hyrcania Tunnel in a desert military zone, to the Qumran Caves where the scrolls were found; to Acre and finally to Jerusalem. Along the way they interviewed and discussed ideas with several experts such as Shimon Gibson, Danny Herman, Steven Pfann and Jim Barfield; the latter an inspirational fire fighter from Texas who has made it his mission to solve the riddle of the scroll. The crew furthermore filmed one of Dr. Stephen Pfann’s researchers who traced the methods of the inscribing process by inscribing a copper scroll all on her own – with astonishing results.

Copper Scroll Project of Facebook

Copper Scroll Project uses Facebook to try and get people to call or write the Travel Channel and ask them to do more with Jimmy Barfield.

One comment: As I have stated in the past (see this post for a summary of the scholarly critiques against Barfield’s nonsense) listing Jimmy D. Barfield as an ‘expert’ in this show makes a mockery of archaeology, of the show, its producers (Morningstar Entertainment), and of the Travel Channel. I am all for the production of documentaries that discuss archaeology and the Bible (full disclosure: I have appeared in a number of them), but a production company creating documentaries about the Bible and archaeology has an obligation not to pass on nonsensical theories as credible, nor the theories’ peddlers as ‘experts.’ In this regard, Morningstar and the Travel Channel have failed miserably. They gave air time to Barfield, which he will now turn around and use to raise funds and promote his religious agenda. (Barfield is already taking ‘pre-orders’ on a self-published e-book on his Copper Scroll Project website. Likewise, Copper Scroll Project folks are encouraging people to contact the Travel Channel and tell them how much they liked the show on Facebook.) They have done a disservice to the public by equating Barfield’s admittedly amateur musings with real scholarship. And they have done a disservice to scholarship, setting back yet again many concerned scholars’ desire to provide quality, verifiable information to the public.

If you want to see and hear the archaeological ‘expert’ yourself, watch his video.

I do have one final question about the brief reconstruction of Qumran shown during the episode. Specifically, where did the producers get it? It appears to be a mutilated modified version of some otherwise pretty good research, although I can’t quite place where I’ve seen those film clips before. I recognize those camera angles from somewhere… that color palette… the interpretation and building layout… that background… I can’t quite place it.

jimmy barfield appears on the travel channel

Jimmy D. Barfield

Jimmy D. Barfield lectures about the Copper Scroll.

Jimmy D. Barfield and the Copper Scroll Project are back making noise again. After lying low for a year, Jimmy D. (and yes, he now refers to himself in the third-person now as ‘Jimmy D.’ – see the video) is making an appearance on a Travel Channel show hosted by marine archaeologist Michael Arbuthnot entitled: Secret Worlds with Michael Arbuthnot: The Mystery of the Copper Scroll. And of course, their friends at The JerUSAlem Connection are promoting Barfield’s appearance. (Be sure to read their related article on the same page entitled ‘Islam and the Left: two sides of the same coin.”)

The Copper Scroll Project is also now selling a self-published e-book on their copper scroll project website.

I’ll watch the show and report back later. From the opening scene – an interview with Indy-clone and tour guide Danny “the Digger” Herman – I have a feeling I’ll either be laughing or shaking my head.

I do have one question about the brief reconstruction of Qumran shown during the episode. Specifically, where did they get it? It appears to be a modified version of some pretty good research.

double checking the ‘research’ of jim barfield

a number of posts have been made regarding jimmy barfield and the copper scroll project:

Robert Cargill and Yuval Peleg

Robert Cargill and Yuval Peleg in the locus 138 miqveh (ritual bath) at Qumran.

however, i wanted to make sure that the criticism of barfield’s so-called expedition was not unwarranted. so, i got in a plane and flew to the west bank and visited qumran. there, i met up with yuval peleg, the district archaeologist in charge judea and samaria, who personally dug at qumran. yuval told me that jimmy barfield never even so much as touched a trowel. his group never dug a single spade of dirt. they were merely observers – that’s it. peleg said as soon as he saw jim barfield claiming to ‘lead an excavation’ for the copper scroll at qumran, he told them to stop making the claim.

mr. barfield never had a permit to dig. in fact, mr. barfield never dug at qumran. barfield simply claimed to have ‘cracked the code’ on the copper scroll. and once he was exposed raising thousands of dollars to lead a ‘copper scroll project’ to qumran, but never actually digging or finding anything, his excuse was that he was not allowed to ‘dig to the proper depth.’ i asked peleg about this claim. yuval showed me to a probe that he dug at a place where mr. barfield insisted there was buried treasure. peleg needed to dig a probe, so he used it as an opportunity to show barfield he was mistaken. the result was exactly as mr. peleg expected: there was nothing. and to prove it, mr. peleg showed me the probe he dug (right).

Jim Barfield's Hole in the Ground 1

Jim Barfield's Hole in the Ground

Jim Barfield's Hole in the Ground 2

Jim Barfield's Hole in the Ground

anyone who has even dug for a day knows what virgin soil looks like. we see to the right that there is nothing but virgin rock. mr. peleg probed along the wall for the presence of a lower water channel near the locus 138 miqveh. barfield assured peleg that he would find treasure there. yet, when peleg realized that there was nothing beneath the surface but untouched rock, he ended the probe and moved on. his question had been answered: no water channel beneath the wall.

however, barfield still claims that he wasn’t allowed to dig deep enough. this is, of course, the same claim a gambling addict makes when he’s trying to get his friends to lend him more money because this time he’s gonna win it big. there’s just nothing there. and just to make sure, i traveled to qumran, met yuval peleg, and saw for myself. nada.

barfield is presently petitioning the iaa and the israeli government via a letter writing campaign to let him dig deeper at qumran. but i applaud the iaa for not working with amateurs who make claims that are simply not true. i am assured that jim barfield will not be digging or observing an excavation at qumran again. and after meeting with several iaa employees, i am confident that they are doing their best to not only keep people from destroying their sites, but to combat sensationalism and religious zealousness that ultimately threaten archaeological sites.

so in the end, the criticisms of the copper scroll project are all justified and verified. there is no treasure. barfield never led an excavation. barfield never had a permit. barfield is not an archaeologist. the iaa does not work with or endorse barfield or his research. the copper scroll project never dug at qumran, they only observed and ongoing iaa excavation. those are the facts, and above are the photographs to prove it.

by the way, in the video below we can see evidence of the deceptive nature of the copper scroll project. barfield claims ‘we are digging’ at qumran in a ‘tunnel.’ this ‘tunnel’ is one of the places where  jimmy barfield claims treasure is buried. of course, this ‘tunnel’ is actually a part of qumran’s water channel system, which magen and peleg have been studying and excavating for the past 10 years. if you look closely, barfield is, in fact, not digging, but just observing with cameras. the iaa cleaned the channel and moved on. in later videos, barfield criticized the archaeologist digging there for not digging ‘to the proper depth’ so he could find the treasure. but this is merely a water channel, and the iaa was not about to dig beneath a water channel to look for some imaginary treasure. rather, they just excavated the water channel as they had planned to do. barfield and company, however, gave the impression that they were leading the excavation, and that the iaa was digging according to barfield’s ‘research’ when in fact, the iaa was simply cleaning and clearing out the qumran water system, which they had been doing for the past 10 years.

in the end, it is what it is: someone claiming to be doing something that he is not, and raising a lot of money from hard working people who are kind enough to believe him.

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