Dead Sea scrolls and Qumran

The Qumran site

The Qumran Ruin is a complex of structures located in the Yehuda Desert on the verge of the Dead Sea. It can be found on a barren terrace between the Dead Sea and the cliffs where the long-untouched Qumran Caves reside. The Qumran Ruin is located just next to the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea, some 1300 feet below sea level and several kilometers south of Jericho, and is one of the main tourist attractions in the Dead Sea area.

Virtual tour of the Qumran Area

Virtual tour of the Qumran Area

The design of the Qumran ruin is unique, with many large halls that used to serve public functions, and a relatively small number of living quarters. The main structure used to have several rooms arranged around a central courtyard. Additional building complexes, to the south and east of the main building, have contained long halls, rooms and ritual baths. A large number of mikva’ot (ritual baths) were found throughout the site, as was typical of public and private buildings in Jerusalem in the Second Temple period.

Beside the spectacular archeological value of these ancient ruins, Qumran is best known as the nearest settlement to the burial place of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Dead Sea scrolls were discovered between 1947 and 1956 in eleven caves around the area, and have been considered to be the greatest manuscript discovery of modern times. The scrolls consist of about 825 to 870 separate documents of great religious and historical importance that include the only known existing copies of Biblical documents created before 100 AD.

The Dead Sea Scrolls were most likely written by the Essenes, a strict Torah observant, Messianic, new covenant Jewish sect during the period lasting from about 200 B.C. to 68 A.D. They enhance our knowledge of both Judaism and Christianity, and represent a non-rabbinic form of Judaism alongside a wealth of comparative materials for New Testament scholars.

Visiting the Qumran National Park is an exciting and inspiring experience. The most important findings in the area are the ones from the end of the Second Temple period and from the Bar-Kochva rebellion era. It is possible to see the cave in which the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, and other structures that were excavated nearby. An audio-visual presentation tells the story of the site and the people who used to live here. In addition, it is possible to take a short walk up the Qumran canyon, in a nice desert surrounding, and appreciate the one-of-a-kind surrounding of the lowest place on earth.


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