The Dead Sea Scrolls are neat – More data, more problems

The Dead Sea Scrolls, other than having a badass name, are one of the great mysteries of modern archeology. Since their emancipation, these enigmatic extracts have eluded elucidation of examiners everywhere. I believe it is this air of mystery that makes them a fascination for all historians, anthropologist and archaeology. There is little actually known about the ancient artifacts but a great deal of speculation and importance still persists surrounding the scrolls. To quote Robert Cargill:

“Gone is the Ark of the Covenant. We’re never going to find Noah’s Ark, the Holy Grail. These things, we’re never going to see. But we just may very well have documents from the Temple in Jerusalem. It would be the great treasure from the Jerusalem Temple.”

The Dead Sea Scrolls were found by a Bedouin shepherd in a sea side cave in 1947. Since then scientist and researchers have been struggling to place the scrolls in their factual historical context.

The leading theory persists that a rebel group of Jewish priest, the Essene, fled to the nearby 1st century city of Qumran after unfavorable religious reforms. Once their, they wrote their lifestyle and wisdom into a coded text (a popular practice to prevent non-religious people from gaining religious knowledge). These scrolls, if properly deciphered, would shed light on the earliest days of Christianity and the historical context Judaism played in shaping the modern theologies of both religions.

A new theory, origination from Ronnie Reich’s expedition in ancient Jerusalem sewers, proposes that the sea side cave was a sanctuary for religious text from multiple origins; not just the Essene. The find suggest that ancient sewers were used to flee Jerusalem from the 70 A.D. Roman siege. These tunnels led to the Valley of Kidron which, in turn, leads to Qumran. Scientist analyzed pottery from Qumran and found that the clay used came from a wide array of areas; not just the local clay pits. Jan Gunneweg, of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, used nuclear sequencing to determine the precise chemical composition of pottery shards from the two millennial old city. Gunneweg concluded that only half of the Dead Sea Scrolls pottery was from local Qumran.

While some believe that this suggest that the Dead Sea Scrolls have multiple origins and that Qumran served as a secret library for such writings, the majority of Dead Sea Scroll aficionados disagree. The overwhelming congruity among the scrolls themselves, and their content, suggest a singular origin for the writings.

This recent development further adds to the mystery surrounding the scrolls. I find the whole affair exciting because it just proves how much we still have yet to discover. The scrolls represent a question 60 years in the answering that is still chewed on by modern day archaeologist with cutting edge technology. One can only guess at what future technology will illuminate for the Dead Sea Scrolls and other unsolved mysteries.

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1 thought on “The Dead Sea Scrolls are neat – More data, more problems

  1. I really enjoyed reading your post. I literally know nothing about the Dead Sea Scrolls but I’ve
    heard about them multiple times. After reading your post I took the liberty to take a look at wikipedia, ( yes I am aware that it might not be a viable source to most educators but it is great for quick facts and I am partial to trivia). What learned from my excursion into the educationally forbidden land of Wikipedia is that the Scrolls were not only written on parchment but also on, papyrus and bronze. The code they are written is a combination of hebrew, aramaic, greek, and nabatteen (I have no idea what nabateen is but I also plan on looking that up later as well. The texts are part of the Hebrew bible but were not canonized. When the scrolls were initially found in the 1940s the Bedouins who found the scrolls, actually stretched them out on tent poles because they did not know what to do with them. ( I mean what would you do with a bunch of old scrolls?). Eventually they sold the scrolls for 7 GBP (Great Britain Pound) which today would come out to about $23……(I do not know about you but I think he might have gotten jipped a little bit) The caves where the scrolls were found however was not fully excavated until 1951. in 1956 the final cave was excavated and archaeologists found the last Dead Sea Scroll Fragment. So in all, the scrolls had a fantastic journey in finally coming together completely that took about 10 years to complete.

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