This is a brief article that I wrote for a church newsletter a few years ago. Still, the information is good and the pictures are beautiful.
You have probably all heard of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The first scrolls were discovered in a cave near the Dead Sea by an Arab shepherd boy in the late 1940’s and have been the source of much scholarly discussion ever since. Numerous scrolls have been discovered since that original find. While scrolls have been found in more than one location, they are primarily associated with a site known as Qumran. This site has been extensively excavated by archaeologists and sheds a great deal of light on the Essenes, the sect that is believed to have occupied Qumran. In this post I have included some photos from my trip to Qumran during my tour of Israel in 2009.
In this first photo you can see several of the walls from the Qumran community. You can also see hills in the upper right hand corner and in the distance of the upper left hand corner is the Dead Sea.
In this second photo you get a better look at the steep hills that bordered the Qumran site. You can also see more of the settlement’s walls.
In the distance of this third picture you can see the Dead Sea. You can also see that Qumran was built on a plateau. While you can see some modern developments in the center left of the picture, you can also tell that this is a very dry and desolate area. The Essenes lived here because they wanted to be apart from others. They were separatists. The extremely dry conditions, while because inhospitable to people, are what allowed the scrolls to last as long as they did without decay.
In this final picture you can see one of the caves at Qumran where scrolls were found. As you tell, the cave is not easily accessible. The difficulty of reaching the caves is another reason why the manuscripts have lasted as long as they have – looters could not easily reach them.