The Dead Sea Scrolls Caves
Well, I guess I couldn't get away with not talking about the Dead Sea Scrolls (often abbreviated DSS). The first of the Dead Sea Scrolls were found by Bedouin shepherds in 1948. They were found in these caves by the Dead Sea (which is behind the photographer). The caves were later excavated and many more scroll fragments were found. The largest number of scrolls were found in Cave 4 (in the center of the photograph). The Romans had damaged the scrolls here, but many were still intact.
So what's the big deal about the scrolls? Well, many are complete texts of Biblical books of the Bible. Before the scrolls were found, the oldest complete books we had of any length were from the first part of the 10th century. The DSS date to approximately the time of Christ and earlier, and almost every book of the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament) was among the collection. The verdict? Our current Biblical texts were almost identical to those in the DSS (and most of the changes are minor - spelling errors, dropped words, inverted word order, etc.). Oh, by the way, the scrolls survived for thousands of years because of the dry climate - water is such a destructive force.
Much of the rest of the info about the DSS, such as who wrote them and why, is debated. You can find a little bit more about the DSS authors at the next stop, The Scriptorium.
Jerusalem is located to the north of Dead Sea, if you would like to continue your tour there.
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