Archaeology and the Dead Sea Scrolls

Uncovering the extraordinary historical find of the Dead Sea Scrolls

Archaeology and the Dead Sea Scrolls focus on the historical treasures excavated from the Wadi Qumran caves in 1947.

Told through excellent reenactment and archaeologist interviews, this documentary goes into every detail on the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Discovered between 1946 and 1956 in caves at Wadi Qumran, a site located about two kilometers inland from the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, the Dead Sea Scrolls are a treasure of 981 different texts datable between 385 BCE to 82 CE.

When the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, the discovery was defined as the most important religious archaeological find of the twentieth century.

The majority of the scrolls are written in Hebrew, some in Aramaic, and a few in Greek.

The Dead Sea scrolls are of extraordinary historical, linguistic and religious significance as they are the third oldest manuscripts with texts of the Hebrew Bible.

They also contain extra-biblical writings, which testify diverse religious practices in the Second Temple Judaism.

Made of leather or parchment of different colors ranging from light brown to yellow, the finest scrolls present a polished parchment of white color.

The scrolls impressively resisted time thanks to the ancient people who sealed some of them in clay jars, often wrapped in linen covers.

Has the Dead Sea Scrolls been translated?

As of 2018, one of the last remaining Dead Sea Scrolls have been deciphered. Researchers at the University of Haifa, Israel, worked a full year to reassemble more than 60 tiny fragments.

The scroll reveals an ancient calendar which lays out the most important dates in the Qumran sect’s 364-day calendar, including the festivals of New Wine and New Oil, which are not mentioned in the Bible.

It also reveals the name given to the special days on which the sect would celebrate the transition between seasons, four times a year.

The days were referred to as “Tekufah”, which translates as “period”.

The scroll is written in code, but its actual content is simple and well-known, and there was no reason to conceal it. This practice is also found in many places outside the land of Israel, where leaders write in secret code even when discussing universally known matters, as a reflection of their status. The custom was intended to show that the author was familiar with the code, while others were not.

Journal of Biblical Literature

The last remaining Dead Sea Scroll is still being deciphered and worked on today.

Archaeology and the Dead Sea Scrolls
  • Info
  • Release date2001
  • Full runtime
  • Director(s)Sterling Van Wagenen, Curtis Briggs
  • Production companyScandinature Films