Bible Archaeology

Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls Month

Over at the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) blog. How exciting!

We are pleased to announce that September will be Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls month here on the ASOR blog. Starting Tuesday, September 4th, we will be posting contributions from leading scholars on Qumran and the scrolls. Check back often to see the latest updates!

It’ll be well worth following. Updates will be made here.


Bible Archaeology

Mystery of Dead Sea Scroll Authors Possibly Solved

Orit Shamir (Israel Antiquities Authority) and Naama Sukenik (Bar-Ilan University) have studied the plain, linen textiles that were found in the Qumran caves so as to determine who the authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls were. Lives Science has the article:

The Dead Sea Scrolls may have been written, at least in part, by a sectarian group called the Essenes, according to nearly 200 textiles discovered in caves at Qumran, in the West Bank, where the religious texts had been stored.

Scholars are divided about who authored the Dead Sea Scrolls and how the texts got to Qumran, and so the new finding could help clear up this long-standing mystery.

The research reveals that all the textiles were made of linen, rather than wool, which was the preferred textile used in ancient Israel. Also they lack decoration,  some actually being bleached white, even though fabrics from the period often have vivid colours. Altogether, researchers say these finds suggest that the Essenes, an ancient Jewish sect, “penned” some of the scrolls.

Not everyone agrees with this interpretation. An archaeologist who has excavated at Qumran told LiveScience that the linen could have come from people fleeing the Roman army after the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, and that they are in fact responsible for putting the scrolls into caves.

Iconic scrolls

The Dead Sea Scrolls consist of nearly 900 texts, the first batch of which were discovered by a Bedouin shepherd in 1947. They date from before A.D. 70, and some may go back to as early as the third century B.C. The scrolls contain a wide variety of writings including early copies of the Hebrew Bible, along with hymns, calendars and psalms, among other works.

Nearly 200 textiles were found in the same caves, along with a few examples from Qumran, the archaeological site close to the caves where the scrolls were hidden.

Orit Shamir, curator of organic materials at the Israel Antiquities Authority, and Naama Sukenik, a graduate student at Bar-Ilan University, compared the white-linen textiles found in the11 caves to examples found elsewhere in ancient Israel, publishing their results in the most recent issue of the journal Dead Sea Discoveries…

Do read on here.

It’s a good article.