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Qumran

Discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls

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In 1947 a Bedouin boy was wandering around over the hills looking for lost sheep. He glimpsed a cave and tossed a rock inside to see if any animals were sheltering there. When the rock struck some pottery, he investigated, and discovered fifty cylindrical jars containing the scrolls.

Several of the priceless scrolls, dating from the 1st century BC and written on animal hide, were lost to us when the impoverished tribemen used them for making sandals. The remaining scrolls were rescued by an archeologist at Hebrew University, who crossed the Green Line (the border), against military advice (the two countires were at war), to buy them.

The scrolls are now housed in the Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. There one may see scroll fragments and learn about the work to preserve and translate these precious relics.

If one is going to the Dead Sea, and has time to stop on the way, Qumran is mildly interesting. There is a short film and a few exhibits showing best guesses as to the life of the Essene community at Qumran, the community of religious extremists who wrote the scrolls. Walk through what is left of their 'monastery' to see the remains of a dining hall, kitchens, a tower, and a 'scriptorium' where, presumably, the scrolls were written.

The Essenes were a Jewish sect which formed at about 150 BC. They aspired to an extremely strict and simple life in accordance with their interpretation of biblical law. They tired to prepare for what they believed to be the imminent arrival of the Messiah by following a lifestyle of abstinence and purity. Some scholars believe that John the Baptist may have been an Essene.

Qumran was the centre of their sect until it was destroyed by the Romans after the Jewish Revolt. It was at this time, in 68 AD, when the sect's library was hidden in the caves.

From Jerusalem, take Route 90 toward the Dead Sea.

Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered.

Click with the right mouse button to see the full size photo.

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The cave in which the Dead Sea Scrolls were found.

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The cave in which the Dead Sea Scrolls were found.

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The hillsides around Qumran.

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Ritual bath at Qumran.

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Flour mill in one of the kitchens at Qumran.

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Looking toward the Dead Sea from Qumran.

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Patti

This page was updated on 20 December 2007.

Contact me at: patti.primeau@sympatico.ca

This site was updated using Nvu and Style Master.

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