Bringing the Past Alive...

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The Book & the Scrolls ....a detailed page on the manuscript history of the Bible.....

This page is all about the Bible and where it came from and how it developed, starting with the Dead Sea Scrolls and progressing through to recent history.There are many other items we could include on this page, but that will make the page far too complex. So please feel free to explore our other pages for related snippets of information.

Most of the images here are of both original manuscripts and reproductions in our collection.

Some of our images have been graciously supplied by Alexander Schick. See HERE for his website.

Please do not copy any of these images without asking us first.

If you have any questions please use our contact us link off to the left.

Please look at these with an open mind and learn how a book that has been written and printed and read more than any other book in history has moulded the way we do things..... 

Please NOTE: 

This is initially an information page. In the future a display based on these items will be available for hire in Australia.

We will shortly have some replica Dead Sea Scroll pottery and associated items for sale.

Definition (Oxford Dictionary)


  • (the Bible) the Christian scriptures, consisting of the Old and New Testaments:[as modifier]:Bible storiesBible study
  •  (the Bible) the Jewish scriptures, consisting of the Torah or Law, the Prophets, and the Hagiographa or Writings.
  •  (also bible) a copy of the Christian or Jewish scriptures.
  •  a particular edition or translation of the Bible:the New English Bible
  •  (bible) informal a book regarded as authoritative in a particular sphere:a brand-new edition of this filmgoers' bible

Middle English: via Old French from ecclesiastical Latin biblia, from Greek (ta) biblia '(the) books', from biblion 'book', originally a diminutive of biblos 'papyrus, scroll', of Semitic origin

Definition (Oxford Dictionary)


  • 1a roll of parchment or paper for writing on.
  •  an ancient book or document written on a scroll.
  •  an ornamental design or carving resembling a partly unrolled scroll of parchment, e.g. on the capital of a column, or at the end of a stringed instrument.
  •  Art & Heraldry a depiction of a narrow ribbon bearing a motto or inscription.
  • 2 [mass noun, usually as modifier] the facility which moves a display on a computer screen in order to view new material:if scroll is enabled, the window scrolls downswitch the scroll lock off
  • 1 [no object, with adverbial] move displayed text or graphics in a particular direction on a computer screen in order to view different parts of them:she scrolled through her file
  •  (of displayed text or graphics) move up, down, or across a computer screen:the words of the story begin scrolling up the screen
  • 2 [with object] cause to move like paper rolling or unrolling:the wind scrolled back the uppermost layer of loose dust

Scrolls have been used as a medium for writing for over 4000 years. Papyrus scrolls were used in ancient Egypt, ancient Greece and Rome, parchment scrolls were used much later as papyrus became difficult to obtain and scrolls made from rice paper were still used until recently in China. Scrolls were made up of sheets of papyrus or parchment that was glued or sewn together and could be rolled on themselves or around a spindle of wood. Scrolls were usually only written on one side so that the text remain protected on the inside of the roll. Sometimes a cord of leather would be fastened around the outside in order to keep it closed and secure.

Definition (Oxford Dictionary)


noun (plural papyri /-rʌɪ, -riː/ or papyruses)
  • 1 [mass noun] a material prepared in ancient Egypt from the pithy stem of a water plant, used in sheets throughout the ancient Mediterranean world for writing or painting on and also for making articles such as rope:the text was preserved, probably on papyrus[as modifier]:a papyrus scroll
  •  [count noun] a document written on papyrus:a remarkable papyrus recently acquired by the British Museum
  • 2the tall aquatic sedge from which papyrus is obtained, native to central Africa and the Nile valley:a pond thickly planted with papyrus
    • Cyperus papyrus, family Cyperaceae

late Middle English (in sense 2): via Latin from Greek papuros. Sense 1 dates from the early 18th century

Papyrus is made from the stem of the papyrus plant, Cyperus Papyrus. The outer rind is first removed, and the sticky fibrous inner pith is cut lengthwise into thin strips of about 40 cm (16 in) long. The strips are then placed side by side on a hard surface with their edges slightly overlapping, and then another layer of strips is laid on top at a right angle. The strips may have been soaked in water long enough for decomposition to begin, perhaps increasing adhesion, but this is not certain. The two layers possibly were glued together. While still moist, the two layers are hammered together, mashing the layers into a single sheet. The sheet is then dried under pressure. After drying, the sheet is polished with some rounded object, possibly a stone or seashell or round hardwood.

Sheets could be cut to fit the obligatory size or glued together to create a longer roll. A wooden stick would be attached to the last sheet in a roll, making it easier to handle. To form the long strip scrolls required, a number of such sheets were united, placed so all the horizontal fibres parallel with the roll's length were on one side and all the vertical fibres on the other. Normally, texts were first written on therecto, the lines following the fibres, parallel to the long edges of the scroll. Secondarily, papyrus was often reused, writing across the fibres on the verso. (Pliny the Elder). describes the methods of preparing papyrus in his Naturalis Historia. (Wikipedia).

Definition (Oxford Dictionary)


noun[mass noun]
  • a stiff, flat, thin material made from the prepared skin of an animal, usually a sheep or goat, and used as a durable writing surface in ancient and medieval times:he borrowed a quill and a piece of parchmenthis skin stretched like old parchment over his cheeks[as modifier]:parchment rolls
  •  [count noun] a manuscript written on parchment:a large collection of ancient parchments
  •  (also parchment paper) a type of stiff translucent paper treated to resemble parchment and used for lampshades, as a writing surface, and in baking:line a 2 lb loaf tin with baking parchment
  •  [count noun] informal a diploma or other formal document:she taught for two years till she got her parchment

Middle English: from Old French parchemin, from a blend of late Latin pergamina 'writing material from Pergamum' andParthica pellis 'Parthian skin' (a kind of scarlet leather)

"Parchment is prepared from pelt, i.e., wet, unhaired, and limed skin, simply by drying at ordinary temperatures under tension, most commonly on a wooden frame known as a stretching frame".

Flaying, soaking, and dehairing

After being flayed, the skin is soaked in water for about 1 day. This removes blood and grime from the skin and prepares it for a dehairing liquor. The dehairing liquor was originally made of rotted, or fermented, vegetable matter, like beer or other liquors, but by the Middle ages a bath to remove the hair included lime. Today, the lime solution is occasionally sharpened by the use of sodium sulfide. The liquor bath would have been in wooden or stone vats and the hides stirred with a long wooden pole to avoid human contact with the alkaline solution. Sometimes the skins would stay in the unhairing bath for 8 or more days depending how concentrated and how warm the solution was kept—unhairing could take up to twice as long in winter. The vat was stirred two or three times a day to ensure the solution's deep and uniform penetration. Replacing the lime water bath also sped the process up. However, if the skins were soaked in the liquor too long, they would be weakened and not able to stand the stretching required for parchment.


After soaking in water to make the skins workable, the skins were placed on a stretching frame. A simple frame with nails would work well in stretching the pelts. The skins could be attached by wrapping small, smooth rocks in the skins with rope or leather strips. Both sides would be left open to the air so they could be scraped with a sharp, semi-lunar knife to remove the last of the hair and get the skin to the right thickness. The skins, which were made almost entirely of collagen, would form a natural glue while drying and once taken off the frame they would keep their form. The stretching aligned the fibres to be more nearly parallel to the surface. (Wikipedia).


The Ketef Hinnom Silver Scrolls

The oldest "Biblical Texts" in existence..in 1979 two tiny scrolls made of silver, inscribed with fine text were found in a burial cave in the Hinnom Valley outside Jerusalems walls by famed Archaeologist Gabriel Barkay. These scrolls were found in a fixed context and so can be accurately dated to before 600BC. The small scrolls would have ben used as amulets  and were inscribed with the Priestly Blessing of Number 6: "The bless you and keep you, the Lord make His face to shine upon you and give you peace...."

This discovery clearly shows the Biblical text was at least in its formative stages by the 600s BC.

The scrolls are 97mm and 39mm in height.

(The image is of our replicas and are available for sale on our Archaeology & the Bible page.)

The Nash Papyrus

Prior to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls this small fragment was the oldest Hebrew textual manuscript in existence. It was acquired in Egypt in 1897 by W.L.Nash who presented it to Cambridge University. It has been dated to c150 - 100BC.

It contains the Ten Commandments and the Shema.

The text contains:

Exodus 20:2-17

Deuteronomy 5:6-21   and...

The Shema as Deuteronomy 6:4,5

The difference is the Ten Commandments have number 6 and 7 in reverse order.

The Shema used a Septuagint introduction rather than that seen in the Masoretic text.

When Mar Samuel showed Dr John Trevor the Great Isaiah Scroll, he used Papyrus Nash images to work out a dating on the scroll establishing that the Isaiah scroll had to be second century BC accordingly.

The Tetragrammaton LMLK the name of the Lord appears multiple times throughout.

See larger images HERE. 

The Dead Sea Scrolls, coined "The Greatest Manuscript Discovery of Modern Times" is in fact just that. This discovery in 1948/49 opened up a whole new world of study and research unlike any seen before.

So what are the Dead Sea Scrolls and why have they captured the imagination of so many worldwide?

Fr Roland DeVaux of the Ecole Biblique holding a set of fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

(Our Press Release Photo)

In late 1946 bedouin shepherds were herding goats around the north west coast of the Dead Sea. One of the goats had gone missing, so one of the shepherds went looking for it in the hills along the shore. He found a cave with a small opening and cast a stone in to try to stir the goat but instead of the bleat of a goat heard the sound of broken pottery. He climbed up and squeezed into the cave and in the dim light found a row of clay jars containing leather scrolls. His initial hope was to find gold but alas it was not to be. He took the scrolls back to the encampment and left them. Later on he thought that they may be useful for making new straps for their sandals, so he took the scrolls to a friend in Bethlehem, a shoemaker named Kando, who just happened to be an antiquities dealer as well. Kando knew straight away that they could be ancient texts, so he took them to the leader of the Syrian Orthodox church (Kando was a member of the church) to Mar Athanasius Samuel. Mar Samuel purchased a few of the scrolls but not all of them. He then showed them to John Trevor who was in Jerusalem at the time as interim head of the American School of Oriental Research and used the opportunity to photograph them.............

Above: Mar Samuel studying some of the Dead Sea Scroll fragments. (Our Press Release Photos)

Right: Yigael Yadin studying some scroll fragments.

Metropolitan Athanasius Yeshue Samuel (1909-1995), more often referred to as Mar Samuel, was a Metropolitan and Archbishop of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch, as well as a central figure in the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Eleazar Lipa Sukenik (12 August 1889 – 28 February 1953) was an Israeli archaeologist and professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

In addition to his important excavations in Jerusalem (including the "Third Wall" and numerous ossuary tombs) he played a central role in the establishment of the Department of Archaeology of the Hebrew University. He recognized the importance of the Dead Sea Scrolls to Israel and worked for the Israeli state to buy them. 

John C Trever

John Trever was a young scholar researching with the American School of Oriental Research in Jerusalem when the scrolls from Cave one surfaced through Mar Athanasius Samuel. Mar Samuel asked the ASOR to help identify and value the scrolls. John Trever inherited the task and after comparing the Isaiah scroll with images of the Nash Papyrus he established that the Isaiah scroll must be older and date to somewhere around the second century BC. He immediately set to photographing the scrolls and fragments and was instrumental in bringing the scrolls to world attention. 

John Trevor sent his images to William Foxwell Albright at Johns Hopkins University who confirmed their authenticity. The rest of the scrolls were sold by Kando to another dealer who offered them to Eleazor Sukenik of the Hebrew University. Sukenik organised to buy the remaining scrolls for the state of Israel but in the midst of the formation of the new State of Israel travelled to Bethlehem during the partitioning in order to complete the purchase. 

Mar Samuel took the scrolls he purchased to the US where they were put on display in several venues before being offered for sale in an advert in the New York Times. Yigael Yadin, Sukenik's son heard of the advertisement and through an intermediary managed to buy the reaming scrolls for Israel.

The bedouin now realised that the scrolls were valuable and set out to find more, searching the wadis around the shore of the Dead Sea. Over the next 6 years 11 caves were found, most by the bedouin and some by archaeologists. 

Yigael Yadin, born Yigael Sukenik  20 March 1917 – 28 June 1984) was an Israeli Archaeologist, politician, and the second Chief of Staff of the Israel Defence Forces.

Image courtesy of Alexander Schick © www.bibelausstellung.de

The Dead Sea Scrolls have been called the Greatest Manuscript discovery of the Twentieth Century and still fascinate many today. What is it about these old manuscripts that has captured so much imagination from so many and yet so much controversy?

Lets look at the basic facts of the Dead Sea Scrolls:

  • Eleven caves have been found all of which contain scrolls or fragments.
  • Caves 1 and 11 contained some relatively intact scrolls while the rest contained fragments.
  • The caves were found between 1947 and 1956.
  • Cave 4 had the largest number of fragments numbering 15,000 belonging to 500 manuscripts.
  • Cave 4 is the most famous as it also is visible from the Qumran plateau.
  • In all the caves 825-870 separate scrolls have been identified.
  • Fragments of every book except the book of Esther exist.
  • They are written in Hebrew, Aramaic and some Greek (Cave 7).
  • They are written on Parchment, Papyrus and Copper (The Copper Scroll cave 3).
  • They are written mostly with carbon based ink, many from the soot of oil lamps.
  • Some were written with Iron Gall ink.
  • Some had red text made from cinnabar.
  • They were written from 250BC to 68AD.
  • They are significant for many purposes = Historical, Religious and Linguistic studies.
  • They have been dated using palaeographic techniques (Text form analysis and Radiocarbon dating.
  • They are thought to be the library of a Jewish sect, most likely the Essenes.
  • The Temple scroll from cave 11 is the longest at 8.148 m but was originally longer.
  • Cave 3 held the enigmatic Copper Scroll which listed 64 hiding places of precious treasures which have never been found.

Among the scrolls have been found:
  • 19 copies of Isaiah
  • 25 copies of Deuteronomy.
  • 30 copies of Psalms.
  • Prophesies of Ezekiel, Jeremiah and Daniel not found in the Hebrew bible.
  • Never before seen Psalms of David and Joshua.
  • Commentaries of Hebrew texts.
  • Paraphrases of Law.
  • Rule books of the sect community.
  • War conduct.
  • Hymnic compositions.

Other facts:
  • Prior to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls the oldest Hebrew manuscripts of the Bible were from the Masoretic text such as Codex Leningradensis and the Aleppo Codex.
  • The oldest Greek version was Codex Vaticannus and Codex Sinaiticus from the 4th century.
  • The Dead Sea Scrolls are deteriorating rapidly due to the vastly different conditions in which they were found. The area of the Dead Sea was dry, arid and low humidity. The caves had very little airflow and the clay jars helped preserve them scrolls.
  • When they were first removed to Jerusalem they were handled terribly including being displayed on tables under glass in sunlight rooms.
  • After over 50 years of study they show that the texts we have today are substantially what was written 2000 years ago. The small number of differences amount to spelling variations and differing word substitutions and none of these effect the meaning of any textual belief system. In essence the Bibles we have today essentially are what was intended by the original authors.

Cave 4 at Qumran (other caves can be seen in the background). Cave four is the most famous to the general public as it can be clearly seen from the ruins of the settlement at Qumran and is the most photographed of all the caves.  It was in cave four where the highest number of Dead Sea Scroll fragments were found, some found initially on the floor by the Bedouin and many more beneath the floor later excavated by archaeologists. The cave has niches in the wall that may have originally supported shelves to hold scrolls, but these have subsequently collapsed leaving the floor covered with remains of the scrolls.


The Isaiah scroll was found in cave 1 by the Bedouin in 1947 along with six other scrolls and sold to Kando in Bethlehem who in turn sold it to Mar Athanasius Samuel and eventually to Yigael Yadin and is now in the Shrine of the Book museum in Jerusalem. It is the most complete copy of the Isiah scroll in existence and is 1100 years older than the earliest Masoretic text the Leningrad Codex. It is written on 17 sheets of parchment sewn together and is 7.3 M long. It is the most complete of all the manuscripts found at Qumran. It is dated to c125BC. This Isaiah text differs in only few small areas from the Masoretic text and mainly in areas of spelling and grammar. To see the whole of the Isaiah Scroll click HERE.


This scroll was one of the original group of scrolls found by the Bedouin in 1947. It is 141cms long and is written in the Herodian script. The scroll is a commentary on the book of Habakkuk written in the 1st century BC and is in a good state of preservation due to its being researched and preserved very early.

THE TEMPLE SCROLL 11QTempleScroll/11Q19 Cave 11

The longest of all the scrolls found in cave 11 by the Bedouin. It describes a Temple at Jerusalem which has not been built along with detailed regulations and practises including sacrifice. It was written as a revelation to Moses as if it was meant to be the plans for a real temple. It is written in the Herodian script. 

THE COMMUNITY RULE SCROLL 1QS Cave 1 (1QS S= Serekh ="Rule")

This scroll is a sectarian document also called "The rule of the community".  Other variants of this work were also found in fragmented form in caves 4 and 5.


This scroll was one of the first scrolls found and published by Eleazor Sukenik. Various other segments in fragmented form were found in other caves including cave 4. Dated to c mid 1st century BC to early 1st century AD. It is thought to be a composite document penned by more than one scribe. The scroll describes a war between the Children of Light and the Children of Darkness with particular reference to the Kittim who were likely the Romans. It goes on to describe hymns and prayers for battle as well as describing Roman military weapons and tactics. It seemed to be compiled from various sources, maybe even from the Maccabean period battles. It appears as if it is a composition of Jewish hopes and dreams in the midst of centuries of foreign occupation rather than an actual battle plan

THE GENESIS SCROLL 4Q4 Pl 1071, IAA 619887

Some 20 fragments of different copies of the book of Genesis were discovered among the Dead Sea Scrolls. This fragment 4Q4 from CAVE 4 was written with black ink on a thin reddish brown parchment. A linen string , which bound the page to the next one, was preserved. The scroll contains only 11 lines of text (Genesis 1:18-27). It begins with the conclusion of the 4th day of creation (separation of light and darkness) and ends with the creation of man on the sixth day. 

Of particular interest is the scribal correction on the fifth line. The scribe had mistakenly forgotten the letter Vav but corrected his mistake by post inserting it above the Tav. (See image below)The original is 11 x 11cm and dated to mid 1st century BC.

THE ISAIAH SCROLL 4Q5 Pl 363/1, IAA 572121

In 1952 Bedouin shepherds discovered some 500 manuscripts in cave 4 at Qumran. The walls of cave 4 contain a number of recesses, indicating that the cave had been used for some time as a Genizah or storage facility for retired scrolls.

One such scroll found in cave 4 was 4Q5 which contains portions of Isaiah 22:10-14 (right) and Isaiah 23:8-24:15 (left). The scrolls size is 20.5 x 20.5cms and dates to the first half of the 1st century AD shortly before the destruction of the temple by the Romans in 70AD.

Interestingly Isaiah 22:10-11 speaks of the great building works performed by Hezekiah in Jerusalem in the wake of the Assyrian conquest in the 8th century BC.


Psalms scroll from cave 11. Psalm 141 (verses 5-10) are the first 6 lines from the top of the second column from the right, after that you have Psalm 133 for the next 5 lines followed by Psalm 144.

Below is another section of the same scroll.


The book of Psalms contains fifteen Songs of Ascent (Psalms 120-134). Pilgrims would recite these Psalms while making their way “up” to Jerusalem for the three annual festivals (see Deuteronomy 16:16). Scholars also maintain that they were sung by the temple priests while ascending the steps leading up to the temple.

In 1956, Bedouin discovered Cave 11 at the site known as Qumran. Six different Psalms’ manuscripts emerged from the dusty cave next to the Dead Sea, revealing a plethora of insights into the way in which the sectarian group formed liturgies of both canonical and non-canonical Psalms.

The three leaves reproduced here contain portions of eleven of the fifteen Songs of Ascent. They date to the first half of the 1st century CE. Reading from right to left, Fragment #1 (11Q5 PL. 976/3) comprises Psalms 121-123:2, Fragment #2 (11Q5 PL. 976/2) contains Psalms 124:7-127:1 and Fragment #3 (11Q5 PL. 976/1), which has two columns, encompasses the words of Psalms 128:4-130:8 (Column 1, on Right) and Psalms 132:8-133:1 (Column 2, on Left).

The Ten Commandments Scroll


Thirty portions of copies of the book of Deuteronomy were discovered amongst the Dead Sea Scrolls. This particular scroll, 4Q41 PL. 981, is unique in that there is evidence of it being used as a liturgical document. More importantly, however, the scroll preserves the entire Decalogue (Ten Commandments) in the form that has been handed down to us this day.

This reproduction begins with Deuteronomy 5:1 (first column, beginning from right) and ends with verse 33 (fourth column, on the far left). The Ten Commandments begin on the first column, line 12, and ends on the third column, line 12.

The original scroll (including its Deut. 8 leaf) measures 7.1 x 45 cm as preserved and dates to the latter half of the 1st Century AD.

The Son of God Scroll or the Aramaic Apocryphon of Daniel


The Aramaic Apocryphon of Daniel or “The Son of God” Scroll (4Q246, Plate 209) was found in Cave 4 at Qumran.

The sectarian community who wrote the scrolls referred to themselves as ‘sons of light,’ while others who were not members of their yahad movement were termed ‘sons of darkness.’ The sect followed their acclaimed ‘Teacher of Righteousness,’ a Messianic figure who, according to their writings was persecuted by the religious establishment in Jerusalem for differing theological and calendric views, and thus the community as a whole was barred from temple sacrifices.

Some texts like the Damascus Document seem to indicate that members expected this Messiah-figure to return. However, when he failed to return to the community after 40 years, they maintained a hope for one who would follow, possibly “the Son of God” referred to in our text.

The manuscript dates to the latter half of the first century BCE, just before the destruction of the Jerusalem temple, during an age of great eschatological expectation.

The translation is as follows:

  1.     “He will be called the Son of God, and they will call him the son of the Most High. Like the sparks
  2.     that you saw, so will their kingdom be; they will rule several year[s] over
  3.     the earth and crush everything; a people will crush another people, and a province another provi[n]ce
  4.     Until the people of God arises and makes everyone rest from the sword.
  5.     His kingdom will be an eternal kingdom, and all His paths in truth. He will jud[ge]
  6.     the earth in truth and all will make peace. The sword will cease from the earth,
  7.     and all the provinces will pay homage. The great God is his strength,
  8.     He will wage war for him, he will place the peoples in his hand and
  9.     Cast them all away before him. His rule will be an eternal rule and all the abysses”

Damascus Document


The Damascus document, also known as the "Damascus Rule" was found in cave 4 at Qumran. It is the only sectarian document that had been known of before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls having been found in the Cairo Genizah half a century before. It is called the Damascus Document for its many references to Damascus thought to be an Eschatological reference to the hope of the restoration of the Davidic monarchy yet maybe not referring to Damascus itself but to the region of Babylonia as statements include "therefore I will take you into exile beyond Damascus", Damascus being on the edge of the Israelite boarders in Davids kingdom.

Fragment 7Q5

Papyrus fragment 7Q5 is a small fragment found in cave 7 along with a small group of other Greek pieces. 

One scholar claims that it is from a New Testament section but most scholars contest his theory, the main argument being that there are too few letters on it to confidently place it as New Testament or as any specific text.

See these pages for the argument:


Genesis 32

A fragment of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the US Green collections. There are many scrolls in public and private collections outside of Israel. (See list below). This large fragment is in the Green collection which is touring with their display called "Passages" demonstrating the development of the Bible. This is a reproduction made for the "Passages Exhibit" in our collection. See www.ExplorePassages.com


Some have debated that the book of Nehemiah is not present among the Dead Dead Sea Scrolls but assumed to be there because Nehemiah was always written on the same scroll as the book of Ezra.

This tiny fragment is from the book of Nehemiah and was purchased from Kando by a private collector in 1953. It has changed hands a number of times since and is now being offered for sale for a six figure (USD) amount.

The fragment has been imaged with infrared light (as seen on our reproduction) and has been researched.

During the early 1950s the Bedouin realised that the scrolls were fetching large amounts of money, so in order to reap some of the benefits many larger fragments were torn into smaller segments in an attempt to procure more money  from their finds. Once archaeologists realised what was happening they set a price based not per fragment but on the square centimetre. Many of these fragments were being offered in tobacco tins and some are still in storage in these tins in the Israel museum today. (See image below)....

The Paleo Leviticus Scroll 11Q1

The Leviticus Scroll  was found in Qumran Cave 11, by a Bedouin in 1956. This scroll includes, the last several chapters of the Book of Leviticus, specifically Leviticus 22-27. The original scroll dates back to a time period between late second century and early first century B.C. The text is Paleo Hebrew which in itself dates back to as early as the 10th century BC. It was used much less by the 5th century when the Aramaic was used and eventually progressed into the present square Hebrew text.

Note the finely executed text and line markings. 

Book of War Fragment 11Q14

The Book of War Scroll 11Q14 from cave eleven. This was one of the early fragments found in 1947. It is one of ten fragments that originally belonged to the Book of War scroll that discusses the war between the Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness or those they called the Kittim, who we now understand to most likely be the Romans.
This section contains a blessing that has some similarities to the text of Numbers 6:24-25 which was also found on the silver scrolls at Ketef Hinnom many centuries earlier.

Book of Job Scroll  11Q10

The Book of Job Scroll  was  found in Qumran Cave 11. The manuscript’s fragments contain the last seven chapters of the translation – Targum of the Book of Job from Hebrew into Aramaic. This manuscript dates back to the second half of second century B.C. Note the difference to the other scrolls in the state of preservation. These scrolls after 2000 years varied considerably in preservation. Some scroll such as this one deteriorated due to exposure to the elements while others faired my better being stored in jays and sometimes wrapped in cloth.

The Book of Enoch Scroll 4Q201

The Book of Enoch is one of eleven fragments found in Qumran Cave 4. Until the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls, the Book of Enoch was only preserved in Ethiopic and Greek. The uniqueness of this manuscript is that this is the only known copy of Book of Enoch in Aramaic. Note the difference in text style to the other manuscripts found in the caves.

The Copper Scroll

The Copper Scroll is an enigmatic scroll found in cave 3 in March 1952 by archaeologists from Father Roland de Vaux' team. Cave 3 is only 600m from cave 1 where the first discovery was made in 1949, its roof having collapsed in antiquity leaving its opening blocked by debris. Behind a large boulder that had collapsed into the cave, they found in a rock cut niche a copper scroll in two sections. The scroll itself is thought to have originally not been intended for rolling, as sections were "riveted" together, one such group of rivets having broken when the original owners attempted rolling leaving it in two sections as it was found in 1952.Also found in the cave were 40 scroll jars many of which were broken and most of which were essentially empty apart from a few scraps of seriously damaged scroll fragments. The contents of these jars had been damaged after the roof had collapsed and subsequent pieces were removed by rodents who took much of the debris into 2 small niches off the side of the cave, one of which held the copper scroll. From what scholars can tell by the remains of these fragments, cave 3 may have had the richest hoard of scrolls of all but alas due to two thousand years of weather exposure and rodents little remains. The scraps were of high quality both linguistically and textually.

The copper Scroll is an enigma because of the message it purveys as well as the way in which it was written. It seems to have been written by someone who was illiterate, possibly in an attempt to prevent him from knowing that it was essentially a treasure map.It listed 64 geographical locations of gold, silver and other precious items across Israel, none of which have been found. The text is Hebrew but is closer to a style used much later than the text used in the rest of the Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls. In some places  Greek letter cryptograms were used. It has now been dated to anywhere from 30AD through to the Roman sacking of Jerusalem in 70AD despite earlier analyses interpreting the differing textual style to be much later, possibly closer to Bar Kochba. However it is the actual context in which it has been found that best sorts its dating as standard paleography does not help date this one off textual find which has no parallel.

It was originally found as two separate rolls, but was far too brittle to be unrolled. It was eventually sent to Manchester in England where a special cutting tool adapted from one that previously cut slots in pen nibs, was used to slice the scroll into 23 segments with little or no text having been lost. It is now on display in Jordan.

So what is the treasure it describes? It is not thought that the community in Qumran could have produced such wealth, and that perhaps it is a major portion of the treasures from the second temple. Many place names have changed since antiquity making it difficult to locate some of the locations listed.

Prayers & Hymns Fragment Cave 1 - 1QHa

A press release photo from our collection of a fragment found in Cave 1 and subsequently bought by Eliazer Sukenik. This fragment contains prayers and hymns different in style to the Psalms bays Sukenik commented they show us the religious aspirations of the people of Qumran.

Thanksgiving Scroll 

This is another of our press release photos showing 2 of the scrolls in different forms of preservation. The top is the Thanksgiving scroll as found in the caves while below is a section of the manual of discipline. Much restoration work had to be done on the scrolls particularly fragments that were not found in jars but on the floor of the caves.

Opening damaged scrolls....

Professor Bieberkraut is shown here working on the Genesis Apocryphon opening it for scholars to analyse the text.

 Many of the scrolls were tightly rolled and encrusted in 2000 years of soil, dirt and animal droppings buried in the soil on the floors of the caves. Professor Bieberkraut who worked at the Hebrew University at the time employed his expertise in opening the precious scrolls.

Image courtesy of Alexander Schick © www.bibelausstellung.de


In the late 1st century BC a new language related to Aramaic developed to the north around the city of Edessa. The Hebrew Bible was translated into Syriac and was called the Syriac "Peshitta" meaning "pure" because it was translated from the Hebrew. Later however the versions were translated from the Greek Septuagint. 

In the Early centuries after Christ the Bible spread across the known world and needed to be translated into the language of the people. Syriac was one of the first.

Our replica imaged here is from St Catherines in Mt Sinai and is a 5th century New Testament page written on parchment.