Parts of the Dead Sea Scrolls are up for sale—in tiny pieces. Nearly 70 years after the discovery of the world’s oldest biblical manuscripts, the Palestinian family who originally sold them to scholars and institutions is now quietly marketing the leftovers—fragments the family says it has kept in a Swiss safe deposit box all these years. Most of these scraps are barely the size of postage stamps, and some are blank. But in the last few years, evangelical Christian collectors and institutions in the US have forked over millions of dollars for a chunk of this archaeological treasure.
This angers Israel’s government antiquities authority, which holds most of the scrolls and threatens to seize any more pieces that hit the market. But William Kando, a member of the family that first sold the scrolls, isn’t worried. “If anyone is interested, we are ready to sell,” he says. Written mostly on animal skin parchment about 2,000 years ago, the manuscripts are the earliest copies of the Hebrew Bible ever found, and the oldest written evidence of the roots of Judaism and Christianity in the Holy Land.
Dead Sea Scrolls are currently located in the following collections:
— Israel Antiquities Authority (More than 10,000 scroll fragments)
— Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum (Seven of the most complete Dead Sea Scrolls)
— France National Library (377 scroll fragments representing 18 scrolls)
— Amman Museum (fragments of 20 scrolls, including the Copper Scroll)
— Heidelberg University in Germany (four phylactery pieces)
— Franciscan private museum in Jerusalem’s Old City (two fragments)
— Terre Sainte Bible Museum in Paris (two scroll fragments)
— University of Chicago (one fragment)
— McGill University in Montreal (a few fragments)
— St. Mark’s Syrian Orthodox Cathedral in Teaneck, N.J. (fragments of three scrolls)
— Schoyen Collection in Oslo, Norway (115 fragments)
— Asuza Pacific University in Asuza, Ca. (5 fragments)
— Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Tx. (3 fragments)
— Green Collection in Oklahoma City, Ok. (12 fragments)
— Private collection of Spaer family, Jerusalem (2 fragments)
— Private collection of Kando family in Bethlehem, West Bank (the family does not reveal how many fragments remain in its collection, but estimates range between 20 and 40.)
Some fragments have gone missing, including three large fragments of the Book of Samuel and two pieces from the Book of Daniel which were stolen from the Rockefeller Archaeological Museum in 1966 during a tour of international diplomats. Their whereabouts are still unknown.
The Dead Sea Scrolls main collection is online here.