What are the Dead Sea Scrolls And Why Do They Matter?
The Dead Sea Scrolls are the world’s oldest known biblical manuscripts. In 1947 scrolls and scroll fragments dating from 150 BC were discovered in a cave by local Bedouin teenagers. They were tending goats near the ancient settlement of Qumran. One of the boys threw a rock into a hole in the cliff and heard the sound of pottery breaking. He and his friends gained access to the interior of the cave which housed many clay jars, containing leather and papyrus scrolls.
The collection was purchased by an antiquities dealer, who ended up selling them to various people and institutions. Once it was realized the items were more than 2000 years old, word of the discovery began to travel fast. Bedouin treasure hunters and archaeologists unearthed tens of thousands of additional scroll fragments from 10 nearby caves. Almost 900 scrolls have now been found.
They Matter Because They Contain Actual History
Many of the scrolls have since been translated and include fragments from every book of the Old Testament except for the book of Esther. The consistency between the later versions of the Old Testament and these scrolls written a thousand years earlier is striking. Some of the knowledge in the scrolls is validated by recently excavated archaeological sites and reinforces the belief that the Old Testament contains an actual history of events, and is not purely myth or metaphor.
For instance, the book of Isaiah talks about the Assyrian Palaces, not discovered until 1840. Isaiah gives a number of historical facts relating to the Assyrians that remarkably confirm the accuracy of Isaiah.
Does that mean the rest of the Old Testament is also a history? Could the stories of the creation of man, the garden of Eden, the great flood, the Nephilm and the Ark of the Covenant also be true?
Who Wrote The Dead Sea Scrolls?
It is believed by most scholars that the scrolls were written by a group of Essene’s living in Qumran. However, new research suggests many of the Dead Sea Scrolls may have originated elsewhere and were written by multiple Jewish groups, some fleeing the circa-A.D. 70 Roman siege that destroyed the legendary Temple in Jerusalem. Could the scrolls could in fact be the lost treasure of the Temple of Jerusalem? Perhaps. Perhaps not.
Since the discovery of the initial ten caves, twenty more caves have been found, most unexcavated. In fact they are at risk of being looted and robbed by treasure hunters. It is possible that the newly found caves contain more scrolls, coins, treasure, and artifacts that are historically significant.
Archaeologist Dr. Aaron Judkins is heading to Qumran in December 2016 to excavate a new cave as part of a team approved by the Israeli Antiquities Authority.
“The discovery of a new cave at Qumran holds promise of being a ancient repository that could contain treasures such as artifacts, coins, and scroll jars with scrolls. Only an excavation to discover what lies beneath the sands of time will enable us to solve this mystery. The Israeli authorities have granted us a permit to excavate at Qumran, the famous site of the community that produced the Dead Sea Scrolls. This is an extraordinary opportunity for me to work with lead archaeologist Dr. Randall Price & archaeologist Bruce Hall…This world renowned site is historically famous, and is where the majority of the Dead Sea Scrolls (or DSS) were discovered in 1947 in Qumran. The dig has been given a narrow window from the end of December 2016 into the first weeks of January 2017.”
Judkins is known as the “Maverick Archaeologist”, a nickname he earned for his unconventional thinking and questing for historical truth. Most recently he worked on an expedition and documentary about Noah and the Ark. He has also spent time researching the elongated skulls of Peru and Bolivia, pursuing his passion of forbidden archaeology. He is currently raising funds to support his participation in the Dead Sea Cave project. Judkins’ fundraising page contains numerous updates and videos about what has been found in the area, and what he hopes to accomplish.
It will be interesting to follow his journey and see what is buried beneath the sands of time.