Qumran: This extremely important archaeological site is located about 2 km inland from the northwestern shores of the Dead Sea next to Kibbutz Kalia. The settlement was constructed sometimes between 134-104 BCE and was occupied for most of the years by the Essenes who were a Jewish sect of the Second Temple time. The settlement flourished from the 2nd century BCE to the 1st century CE until it was destroyed by the Romans around 68 CE. The village includes archeological remains of aqueducts, many cisterns and ritual baths, probably a monastery, remains of a tower, kitchens, dining hall and the “Scriptorium”. The site is famous as the place where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in caves on cliffs surrounding the village. The scrolls were accidentally discovered in 1947 by a Shepherd looking for one of his lost goats.
Since the discovery from 1947 to 1956 nearly 900 scrolls were found in various conditions. The texts of the scrolls are of very important religious and historical significance, considered by many archaeologists as the most important finding in the 20th C, for they include, till date, some of the only known and oldest surviving copies of the Hebrew Bible composed before 100 BCE and preserve evidence of Second Temple era Judaism. The scrolls are written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, most of them on animal skin parchment and others on papyrus. This old settlement has undergone extensive excavations. The manuscripts are carbon dated between 150 BCE to 70 CE. The Dead Sea Scrolls are made up of three groups: “Hebrew Biblical”, (the Old Testament) comprising about 40% of the identified scrolls; “Apocryphal” or “Pseudepigraphical” manuscripts (documents from the 2nd Temple Period like Enoch, Ben Sira and other non-canonical psalms that were not canonized in the Hebrew Bible). They make roughly 30% of the identified scrolls. The third group are “Sectarian” manuscripts (previously unknown documents that describe the rules and beliefs of the Esseenes, like the Community Rule, War Scroll, The Copper scroll, Pesher on Habakkuk and the Rule of the Blessing. These comprise roughly 30% of the identified scrolls.
To understand better why it took so long to publish the contents of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the conspiracies behind the research, I recommend you read the book: The Dead Sea Scrolls Deception by Michael Baigent & Richard Leigh.
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