Dead Sea Scrolls
GreatArchaeology» Dead Sea Scrolls

The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of about 850 documents, including texts from the Hebrew Bible, which were discovered between 1947 and 1956 in eleven caves near Qumran, a fortress northwest of the Dead Sea in Israel (in historical times part of Judea). They were written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, sometime between the 2nd century BC and the 1st century AD. The texts are important as being practically the only Jewish Biblical documents from that period, and because of what they can tell about the political and religious context.

Importance of Dead Sea Scrolls

The Dead Sea Scrolls contains a vast collection of Jewish documents written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, and encompassing many subjects and literary styles.This is significant for archaeology. They include manuscripts or fragments of every book in the Hebrew Bible except the Book of Esther, all of them formed nearly one thousand years earlier than any previously known biblical manuscripts. The scrolls also contain the earliest existing biblical observations, on the Book of Habakkuk, and many other writings, among them religious works pertaining to Jewish sects of the time.

  • A copy or portion of nearly every Old Testament book was found in Qumran.
  • There were extra-biblical and apocryphal books found as well, but again, the vast bulk of the scrolls were copies of the Hebrew Old Testament.
  • The Dead Sea Scrolls were such a remarkable discovery of (archaeology) in that the scrolls were in excellent condition and had remained hidden for so long (over 2000 years).
  • The Dead Sea Scrolls can also give us assurance in the consistency of the Old Testament manuscripts since there were minimal differences between the manuscripts that had previously been discovered and those that were found in Qumran.
  • Clearly this is a testament to the way God has preserved His Word down through the centuries, protecting it from extinction and guarding it against major error.

Groups of Dead Sea Scrolls
The Dead Sea Scrolls are usually divided into three groups namely:
  • Biblical
  • Apocryphal
  • Sectarian

  • Biblical

    "Biblical" Manuscripts (copies of texts from the Hebrew Bible), which comprise roughly 40% of the recognized scrolls


Apocryphal"or "Pseudepigraphical" documents (known papers from the Second Temple Period like Enoch, Jubilees, Tobit, Sirach, non-canonical psalms, etc., that were not eventually canonized in the Hebrew Bible), which contains approximately 30% of the traditional scrolls.


"Sectarian" documents (previously unknown documents that speak to the rules and idea of a particular group or groups within greater Judaism) like the Community Rule, War Scroll, Pesher (Hebrew pesher = "Commentary") on Habakkuk, and the Rule of the Blessing, which encompass approximately 30% of the recognized scrolls.

Discovery of Dead Sea Scrolls

The resolution of Qumran is 1 km inland from the northwest shore of the Dead Sea. The scrolls were found in eleven caves nearby, between 125m (Cave 4) and 1 km (Cave 1) away. None were found within the decision, unless it initially encompassed the caves. In the winter of 1946-47, Palestinian Muhammed edh-Dhib and his cousin discovered the caves, and soon afterwards the scrolls.

John C. Trever rebuilds the story of the scrolls from several interviews with the Bedouin. edh-Dhib's cousin noticed the caves, but edh-Dhib himself was the first to really fall into one. He recovered a handful of scrolls, which Trever recognized as the Isaiah Scroll, Habakkuk Commentary, and the Community Rule (originally known as "Manual of Discipline"), and took them back to the camp to show to his family. None of the scrolls were destroyed in this process, despite popular story. The Bedouin kept the scrolls hanging on a tent pole while they figured out what to do with them, periodically taking them out to show people. At some point during this time, the Community Rule was split in two.

As soon as the declaration of the scrolls' discovery was made, the academic debates about their origin and importance began. The debates increased when the amazing contents of the scrolls were consecutively exposed. The seven original scrolls, from what came to be called "Cave One" comprised the following:

  • A well-preserved copy of the entire prediction of Isaiah-the oldest copy of an Old Testament book ever to be discovered.
  • A aother fragmentary scroll of Isaiah
  • A observations on the first two chapters of Habakkuk-the commentator explained the book allegorically interims of the Qumran brotherhood
  • The "Manual of Discipline" or "Community Rule"-the most important source of information about the religious sect at Qumran-it described the requirements for those hopeful to join the brotherhood
  • The "Thanksgiving Hymns," a collection of devotional "psalms" of thanksgiving and praise to God
  • An Aramaic summarize of the Book of Genesis
  • The "Rule of War" which compact with the battle between the "Sons of Light (the men of Qumran) and the “Sons of Darkness” (the Romans?) yet to take place in the “last days,” which days the men of Qumran invented were about to arrive.
Study Of The Caves
The caves surrounding Qumran are numbered based upon the order of their finding and their production of scrolls and scroll fragments. Thus, caves 7-9 and 4 are very close to the decision at Qumran, while caves 1, 3, and 11 are farther away. Similarly, there are hundreds of other caves surrounding Qumran discovered both before and after the 11 scroll caves that did not create scrolls and are therefore not numbered as scroll caves. Below is a summary of each of the Qumran Caves

Cave 1
Cave 1 was discovered in the winter or spring of 1947. It was first excavate by Gerald Lankester Harding and Roland de Vaux from Feb 15 to Mar 5, 1949. In addition to the unique seven scrolls, Cave 1 formed jars and bowls, whose chemical composition and shape matched vessels discovered at the settlement at Qumran, pieces of cloth, and added fragments that matched portions of the original scrolls, thereby proving that the original scrolls came from Cave 1.

Cave 2

Cave two was found in February, 1952. It yielded 300 fragments from 33 manuscripts, including Jubilees and the Book of Sirach in the original Hebrew.

Cave 3

Cave three was founded on March 14, 1952. The cave surrendered 14 manuscripts including Jubilees and the curious Copper Scroll, which lists 67 hiding places, mostly underground, throughout the ancient Roman region of Judea (now Israel and Palestine). According to the scroll, the secret caches held astonishing amounts of gold, silver, copper, aromatics, and manuscripts.

Cave 4

Cave four was discovered in August, 1952, and was excavated from September 22 to 29, 1952 by Gerald Lankester Harding, Roland de Vaux, and Józef Milik. Cave four is really two, hand-cut caves (4a and 4b), but since the fragments were mixed, they are labeled as 4Q. Cave 4 is the more well-known of Qumran caves both because of its visibility from the Qumran plateau and its productivity. It is visible from the plateau to the south of the Qumran settlement. It is by far the most creative of all Qumran caves, producing ninety percent of the Dead Sea Scrolls and scroll fragments (approx. 15,000 fragments from 500 different texts), including 9-10 copies of Jubilees, along with 21 tefillin and 7 mezuzot.

Caves 5 and 6

Caves 5 and 6 were exposed in 1952, shortly after Cave 4. Cave 5 produced around 25 manuscripts, while Cave 6 contained fragments of about 31 manuscripts.

Caves 7-9

Caves 7-9 are unique in that they are the only caves that are available only by passing through the settlement at Qumran. Carved into the southern end of the Qumran plateau, archaeologists excavated caves 7-9 in 1957, but did not find many fragments maybe due to high levels of erosion that left only the shallow bottoms of the caves.

Caves 8

Cave 8 formed five fragments: Genesis (8QGen), Psalms (8QPs), a tefillin fragment (8QPhyl), a mezuzah (8QMez), and a hymn (8QHymn). Cave 8 also formed several tefillin cases, a box of leather objects, lamps, jars, and the sole of a leather shoe.

Caves 9

Cave 9 produced only small, unidentifiable fragments.9 also submitted several date pits similar to those discovered by Magen and Peleg to the west of Locus 75 during their "Operation Scroll" excavations.

Caves 10

Cave 10 formed only a single ostracon with some writing on it.

Cave 11
Fragments of dead sea scroll  width=
The Archaeologists Working In This Project
Books Related to Dead Sea Scrolls

Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English by Geza Vermes. published by Penguin.

A record and commentary on the famous Qumran scrolls, discovered in 1947 and carefully edited and reconstructed over the succeeding 50 years by many of the most renowned scholars in the world.

Dead Sea Scrolls Bible The Oldest Known Bible Translated for the First written by Timeby Martin G. Abegg, and Peter Flint published by HarperCollins Publishers.

The DEAD SEA SCROLLS BIBLE particularly displays the contents of these ancient documents, informative and commenting on the stories that were written during Jesus' time and on the problems that emerge from their differences with current versions of the Bible.

The Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition written by Florentino Garcia Martinez, and Eibert Tigchelaa

This indispensable two-volume compendium of the Dead Sea Scrolls, copublished by Eerdmans and Brill, contains newly edited English translations and synopsis of all the biblical and nonbiblical scrolls found at Qumran. Intended as a practical orientation tool to facilitate fruitful study of the Scrolls, these volumes, compiled by expert Dead Sea Scroll researchers, will be an essential addition to the library of anyone interested in the Dead Sea Scrolls -- from serious scholars to general readers seeking reliable translations of these important ancient texts.

Rich Resources on Dead Sea Scrolls
Facsimile Editions - Dead Sea Scrolls
  • Tilte:Facsimile Editions - Dead Sea Scrolls
  • Description: Found inadvertently in 1947, the Dead Sea Scrolls are regarded by many as the most significant archaeological find of the twentieth century.
Timetable of the Discovery and Debate about the Dead Sea Scrolls
  • Tilte:Dead Sea Scrolls
  • Description:Unless drastic measures are taken at once, the greatest and most valuable of all Hebrew and Aramaic manuscript discoveries is likely to become the academic scandal par excellence of the twentieth century
The Dead Sea Scrolls and Why They Matter
  • Title:Dead Sea Scrolls | Explore The Dead Sea Scrolls & Why They Matter | Biblical Archaeology Review
  • Description:The dead sea scrolls are an important piece of history. Explore why the Dead Sea Scrolls matter with Biblical Archaeology Review.

Also see other archaeological discoveries
Important archaeological Discoveries
Amesbury Archer
Amesbury Archer (or King of Stonehenge) is an early Bronze Age man, dating to around 2300 BC. His grave is of particular importance because of the rich valuables and the earliest gold objects ever found in England.
Otzi the Ice mummy
Otzi the Iceman is well naturally preserved mummy of a man. The man who was been captured in Ice was believed to be over 53 centuries old (3300 BC).
Java Man
Java man is an interesting discovery to note that the find was not a complete specimen, but consisted merely of a skullcap, a femur, and three teeth. Many scientists of the day even suggested that Dubois' Java Man might have been the so-called "missing link
Kennewick Man
Kennewick Man is the name for the remains of a prehistoric man found on a bank of the Columbia River near Kennewick, Washington, on July 28, 1996. The Kennewick Man news story is one of the most significant archaeology stories of contemporary times.
Neanderthal Man
Neandertal1 or Neanderthal was a species of genus Homo (Homo neanderthalensis) that inhabited Europe and parts of western Asia during the last ice age.
Peking Man
Peking Man (sometimes now called Beijing Man), also called Sinanthropus pekinensis (currently Homo erectus pekinensis), is an example of Homo erectus.
Red lady of Paviland
The Red Lady of Paviland is a fairly complete Upper Paleolithic-era human male skeleton dyed in red ochre, discovered in 1823 by Rev. William Buckland in one of the Paviland limestone caves of the Gower Peninsula in south Wales, dating from c29,000.
Tollund Man
The Tollund man lived during the late 5th century BC and/or early 4th century BC, about 2,400 years . He was buried in a peat bog on the Jutland Peninsula in Denmark, a find known as a bog body.
Turkana Boy
Turkana Boy, the designation given to fossil KNM-WT (Kenya National Museum-West Turkana), is a nearly complete skeleton of a 12-year-old hominid boy who died 1.6 million years ago.Turkana Boy is classified as either Homo erectus or Homo ergaster.
Dead Sea scrolls
The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of about 850 documents, including texts from the Hebrew Bible, which were discovered in eleven caves near Qumran, in a fortress northwest of the Dead Sea in Israel.
Narmer Palette
The Narmer Palette, or Great Hierakonpolis Palette, is a significant Egyptian archeological find, dating from about 3200 BC, containing some of the earliest hieroglyphic inscriptions ever found, and depicting the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under Narmer.
Rosetta Stone
Rosetta Stone is a dark granite stone (often incorrectly identified as "basalt") which provided modern researchers with translations of ancient text in Egyptian demotic script, Greek, and Egyptian hieroglyphics.
Linear B
Linear B is the script that was used for writing Mycenaean, an early form of the Greek language. It occurrs primarily on tablets dated from the 14th and 13th centuries BC.
Sweet track
The Sweet Track is an ancient roadway in the Somerset Levels, England. As of the early 2000s, it is the oldest known engineered roadway in the world. An grand footpath that ran for almost 2km across the Somerset levels swamps.
Tautavel Man
Tautavel Man is an ancestor of Neanderthal man, was slightly different from his contemporaries living Asia and Africa. In the village of Tautavel is located in the South of France, one of the most ancient humans was found: the Tautavel Man.
Galilee Boat
The Galilee Boat which is also referred as the "Jesus Boat" was found by local Galilean inhabitants in January 1986. The boat was wrapped in a polyurethane shell and then immersed in a special tank of water to avoid quick disintegration.
Ekron Inscription
The monumental Ekron inscription is dated, statistically and historically, to the first half of the seventh century B.C.E. The five lines of the inscription are together with this in a slit open border.
Pontius Pilate
It wasn't long back when a lot of scholars were quizzical the real survival of a Roman Governor with the name Pontius Pilate, the procurator who ordered Jesus' crucifixion. In June 1961 close to Caesarea-on-the-Sea (Maritima) was unearthed this appealing limestone block.
Ossuary of Caiaphas
In 1990 ornately decorate limestone ossuary (bone depository) was found in Jerusalem's Peace Forest. In the ossuary were the bones of two babies, a adolescent child, a teenage boy, an adult woman, and a man about 60years of age.
Baruch Bulla
In biblical Israel, papyrus was the main form of writing substance. Once an authorized deed was written, it would be rolled up, one end crinkled in one-third of the width and the contrary end likewise folded in.
Ugarit-Pre historic city
It is the Capital city of a prehistoric principality in what these days is on the northern part of the Syrian coast, just north of the city of Latakia.