The Dead Sea Scrolls are collection of almost a thousand different ancient manuscripts found on the shores of the Dead Sea in late 1946. The scrolls were found in an area known as Qumran and are very significant from both a religious and a historical point of view.
The ancient Dead Sea Scrolls are om many cases, the earliest surviving copies of many of the books of the bible as well as other contemporary documents. Written in a combination of Hebrew, Aramaic. Navataean and Greek they are written on parchment, papyrus and even on metal scrolls in some cases.
The scrolls have ignited debate across the western world, providing an insight in to some of the earliest days of Christianity. The documents are thought to date from around 408BCE through to around 318CE, which is the time the Qumran community, it now appears that at least some of these sea scrolls were deposited by Jews fleeing Jerusalem in around 70CE.
About 40% of the Dead Sea Scrolls are books from the Bible. Around 30% are other religious books which were not collated in the Hebrew Bible, and the remaining 30% are other documents detailing the rules, beliefs and day to day like of the community and Judaism in general.
The majority of the ancient Dead Sea Scrolls are to be found in museums in Israel and Jordan, with some fragments being found in museums on Paris and the United States. For any visitor to the Middle East, these ancient sea scrolls are something worth seeing.
When the original scrolls were found by the Bedouin, they kept them for some time, unsure of what to do with them. A popular rumor is that some of the scrolls were used as fuel for fires, but this has been disproved.
Eventually the scrolls found their way to dealers who passed them to experts who recognized them for what they were.
Then in the late 1940's and early 1950's the excavations in Qumran started in earnest, with people flocking to the area to re-discover the true origins of Christianity.
The Dead Sea Scrolls re-ignited the interest in archaeology which the Victorians enjoyed with Egyptology and Egyptian mummies, with various groups, mainly religious, competing to find new scrolls.
These scrolls from the shores of the ancient Dead Sea have ignited the passions of the religious communities. The Qumran community is thought to have become one of the first Christian communities and there is even some thought that Jesus himself visited this community in his life time.
Some of these scrolls from the ancient Dead Sea kingdom are in poor condition, many are fragmented, rotten and faded. The groups studying the scrolls are using all the technology at their disposal in order to try and recover the knowledge from the scrolls. X-ray have provided a view of the faded scrolls and helped to recover the knowledge.
Many of the scrolls are too delicate to handle and are stored between glass. most have now been photographed in high definition and placed on the internet for the world to see, allowing scholars from all over the world to work on enigma these ancient scrolls present.
Today religious groups and scientist are still piecing together the parts of these scrolls from the ancient Dead Sea kingdom and understanding the religious beliefs and the day to day life of the inhabitants of the Qumran community. The Dead Sea Scrolls have provided a valuable window in to the past and are something any visitor to the Middle East should see.