DNA Unlocks the Secrets of the Dead Sea Scrolls

Is every word in the Bible holy? When did prayers replace sacrificial offerings? The Dead Sea Scrolls consist of 25,000 fragments, but no one knows how to put them together. A new study suggests a way to solve that puzzle, which sheds new light on life in this land 2,000 years ago

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Jeremiah 10:1. Illustration: Aron Ehrlich
Asaf Ronel
Asaf Ronel

>> Follow live updates: Israel finds new Dead Sea Scroll, first such discovery in 60 years

Over 70 years ago, a Bedouin shepherd named Muhammed ed-Dib entered a cave in the Qumran area west of the Dead Sea. In it he found large clay jars containing parchment scrolls wrapped in linen. Ed-Dib didn’t know it, but he had stumbled upon the first pieces of one of the most important archaeological discoveries of the 20th century, which would come to be known as the “Dead Sea Scrolls.” The scrolls opened a window to the spiritual world and quotidian life of the Second Temple period – one of the most tempestuous eras in Jewish history – and shed light on the process by which various Jewish sects sprang up during that time, one of which would morph into Christianity. But even today these archaeological finds continue to raise more questions than answers.

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