The World Center for the Dead Sea Scrolls will be home to the largest and most comprehensive collection of Dead Sea Scrolls – the most important treasure belonging to the Jewish people, and the largest and oldest collection of Biblical manuscripts in the world, and will be a unique magnet and beacon for Jewish, Biblical and Israel studies.
The vast bulk of the rare collection of Dead Sea Scrolls and the archaeological objects from Qumran are currently housed in various locations throughout Israel unavailable to the public.
The World Center for the Dead Sea Scrolls will become a Jerusalem landmark in a sparkling new building, providing unparalleled access and safe housing to the most breathtaking and fundamental cornerstones of our Jewish heritage in the Land of Israel.
Along with new galleries, an education wing, a state-of-the-art conservation center and a library, the Center will be the only venue in the world for the education, exhibition, safe housing, research and conservation of the entire Dead Sea Scrolls collection.
It will be visited by hundreds of thousands of people annually – tourists, school children, soldiers, students, researchers and scholars from around the world and the general public – affording a rare opportunity to view the treasures and the fascinating conservation work. The World Center for the Dead Sea Scrolls will encompass the following:
- The complete collection of more than 15,000 Dead Sea Scrolls
- The collection of archaeological objects from Qumran
- The Bernard Osher Dead Sea Scrolls Galleries
- The Hanadiv Dead Sea Scrolls National Conservation Center
- The Leon Levine Education and Traveling Exhibitions Wing
- The Dead Sea Scrolls Library
- Researchers and scholar’s Study Room
The texts from the Judean Desert represent some 800 scrolls including more than 200 scrolls of biblical compositions, several hundred scrolls of literary compositions, and a number of nonliterary documents.
These documents, in Hebrew, Aramaic, Nabatean, and Greek, are of crucial importance for the study of the early exegesis of the Bible, its textual transmission, and the Hebrew and Aramaic languages, as well as the literature and the history of ideas of the Second Temple period.
The Scrolls contain the earliest copies of every book of the Hebrew Bible, except the Book of Esther.
Commentaries on various books of the Hebrew Bible, especially the Book of Isaiah, Psalms, and Daniel are also found among the scrolls, as are sectarian writings, describing a community or communities of monastic Jewish groups who had separated themselves from mainstream Judaism.
There are also Calendrical works dealing with accurately predicting festivals days and the Solstices.
In addition are scrolls, which are translations from one of the biblical languages into another (i.e. PaleoHebrew into Aramaic); and scrolls which contain wisdom literature.
Some of the most interesting scrolls belong to the Apocrypha, those books that do not appear in the Hebrew bible but do in the Septuagint or Greek bible, and hence some Christian bibles.
Following is a sampling of Scrolls:
Deuteronomy (Ten Commandments)
The book of Deuteronomy was the most popular book of the Pentateuch amongst the members of the Qumran sect, with around 30 copies recovered.
The text shown here presents the Ten Commandments, which contain the essence of all the biblical laws and commandments, and at whose heart is a set of basic obligations that forms the basis of the relationship between the Israelites and their God.
The Leviticus Scrolls found in Cave 11 was preserved in impressive form on a large sheet of parchment. The Scroll is written in the ancient paleo-Hebrew script used during the First Temple period.
This fragment comprises the last chapters of the Book of Leviticus, which deal with matters such as the laws of worship, damages, and slaves. The scroll is dated to the first half of the first century CE.
The Book of Psalms, represented by 35 manuscripts from 250 BCE to 50–68 BCE, is the most frequently found biblical book in the Qumran caves.
This scroll (a portion of the Great Psalms Scroll) is the earliest known copy of the book of Psalms and the most substantial, with 51 individual psalms.
The Book of Enoch belongs to the Pseudepigrapha, books not included in the canon of the Hebrew Bible.
This fragment is taken from the first part of the book which describes the heavenly revolt of the angels, the secret of knowledge they revealed to mankind and their punishment for desiring the daughters of man.
Fragments of 20 compositions dealing with the calendar and the holy seasons were discovered at Qumran.
These important texts illustrate how the Qumran community was set apart from mainstream Judaism in the crucial matter of reckoning time.
The Community Rule, or "Manual of Discipline“, defines the rules that govern the community, referred to as the yahad (Hebrew for unity).
This scroll addresses these questions: Where do we fit in God's plan? How should we live our lives? How will the world end? What will happen to us?
The text of the Damascus Document addresses a community which fled from Judea to the "Land of Damascus," a possible reference to the city in Syria or symbolic of exile in general. The text urges the community to remain faithful to their covenant with God. It outlines legal rules and rituals for the community to observe by quoting and then interpreting biblical texts.
Book of War
The war between the forces of righteousness and the forces of evil is the sect’s apocalyptic vision of the End of Days. In this war, the sons of light – that is, the members of the sect – will conquer the entire world in stages and completely defeat the sons of darkness – called Kittim (probably the Romans).
The text of this scroll is a commentary on the biblical verses of Hosea.
Both eschatological and historical allusions are used in interpreting the biblical text. Late first century BCE.
This six-line fragment, written in a Herodian script, refers to a Messiah from the Branch of David, to a judgment, and to a killing.
Some Torah Precepts
This scroll is a sectarian document, of which six manuscripts have been discovered. The document is unique in language, style and content, and the text has been dated as one of the earliest works of the Qumran library.
The entire collection of thousands of archaeological artifacts from the Qumran site excavations includes pottery, stone, wood, basketry, coins, textile, cordage and leather.
The excavations at Qumran yielded a large assemblage of ceramic vessels that were used by the inhabitants in their daily life. The pottery assemblage includes vessels for serving food and drink, cooking utensils, storage vessels, and small containers for storage of precious liquids.
Some of the scrolls found by Bedouin shepherds in 1947 were discovered in cylindrical pottery jars of this type, which are unknown elsewhere. These jars, like the other pottery vessels recovered at Qumran, were probably manufactured locally.
This flattened pot has a ribbed shoulder and a short, wide neck. The firing is metallic.
The surface of this pot is ribbed. Two ribbed handles span the vessel from the rim to the upper part of the shoulder. The firing is metallic.
Hemispherical in shape, these bowls have a ring base and an inverted rim.
Found in a stack, these identical v-shaped drinking goblets are of fine ware. They were found in the pottery storeroom in Qumran.
Two inkwells were found at the Qumran excavations, this one of pottery and another of bronze. They were in the vicinity of a large table, which suggested to the site’s excavators scribal activity in a scriptorium.
The gobular jug has a ribbed body and a long, tapering neck ending in a splayed rim. A single-loop handle extends from the rim to the upper part.
The lamp’s characteristic features are a circular wheel-made body, flat unmarked base, and large central filling hole. The spatulate nozzle was separately hand formed and subsequently attached to the body. Traces of a palm-fiber wick were found in the lamp’s nozzle.
Plates, bowls and goblets were found in one of the rooms in Qumran. This room probably served as a pantry near the assembly room, which may have served as a dining room.
Stone vessels made of soft limestone were manufactured in the Jerusalem area during the Second Temple Period.
This large goblet shaped vessel was produced on a lathe, probably in Jerusalem, and shows excellent craftsmanship. The vessel may shed light on the shape of the kallal mentioned in the Talmudic sources-the vessels holding the purification ashes of the red heifer.
Textiles, Baskets and Leather
The considerable quantity of organic finds is an exceptional occurrence, a result of the arid climatic conditions prevailing in the area. The textiles from Qumran include some 400 pieces made of linen, wool and goat hair, and date palms for the manufacturing of ropes, baskets and mats.
This linen cloth is cut along three sides, rolled and over sewn with a single thread; the fourth edge has a corded starting border in twining technique, followed by a woven strip and an open unwoven space. It was found folded into a pad and was probably used as packing material for discarded scrolls.
Shown here are sandal soles of the "soleae" style. Intact sandals of this type, dating from different centuries, were found at Masada and in the Cave of Letters, all in the Dead Sea region.
Wooden artifacts are rare finds in the material culture of the ancient Near East, and few specimen from the Roman period have survived. The finds from the Judean Desert include bowls, boxes, mirror frames and handles, combs and spinning equipment.
This deep bowl has a flat base, expertly turned on a lathe. Several concentric circles are incised on the base, and the rim is rounded.
Phylactery Cases for Head and Arm
The excavations in Qumran unearthed over 1,250 coins; of these, some 690 were individual finds, while the rest belonged to one large hoard of 561 silver coins found together in three pots. The excavators relies heavily on these coins for the dating and interpretation of the various phases of the site.
In 1955, three intact ceramic vessels containing a total of 561 silver coins were found under a doorway at the Qumran excavation site. The vessels were filled to the brim with coins and their mouths were covered with palm-fiber stoppers. Two out of three of the hoard vessels are of a type otherwise unknown at Qumran. New members of the sect may have had to surrender their worldly goods to the treasurer of the community. The vessels and their contents then, would constitute the deposit of one or a number of new adherents. On the other hand it should be noted that depositing coins at a building's foundation, often under doorways, was a common practice in antiquity.
The Visible Dead Sea Scrolls Conservation Center
The Dead Sea Scrolls Conservation Center, including the Conservation and Preservation Laboratories and the Dead Sea Scrolls Housing Center, will be the only laboratory in the world to provide the safe, environmentally controlled housing and treatment for more than 15,000 Dead Sea Scrolls.
The new Conservation Center will provide a dual service, caring for the collections and educating the public about the importance of the conservation of our national treasures. The peerless, state-of-the-art Dead Sea Scrolls Conservation Center will provide conservation and long term preservation to the Dead Sea Scrolls collection of the Israel Antiquities Authority. In addition, the Conservation Center will offer a rich, informative visitor experience to access, view and understand the process of conservation and preservation of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
In its efforts to reach out and educate the public about the fascinating process of the archaeological conservation work, we plan to provide a remarkable opportunity for school groups, students and the general public, to observe the conservation and preservation process conducted by our Dead Sea Scrolls conservation experts.
Through the creation of unique, innovative, custom – designed viewing bridges above the Conservation Laboratories, visitors will be allowed a rare opportunity to observe the intriguing process, adding to the educational experience.
Scroll Fragments in the 1950's
The design plan calls for a two–story laboratory, with observation from 5-6 meters above. Closed circuit TV cameras or video screens will be installed to allow direct connection to some of the work processes. Didactic materials outside the viewing area will be available to provide educational information and answers to the public’s questions. The Hanadiv Dead Sea Scrolls Conservation Center will become a destination for learning about conservation science and methods through educational videos, public programs and outreach initiatives by the Israel Antiquities Authority.
The Bernard Osher Dead Sea Scrolls Study and Illumination Galleries
The beautiful 6,000 sq. foot climate controlled Galleries, designed by architect Moshe Safdie, will be the venue for presentations relating to the discovery, conservation and preservation, research and publication of the Dead Sea Scrolls, as well as to presentations of new findings, new theories and technologies associated with Scroll conservation, and presentation of archaeological objects from the Qumran site excavations that have never been shown in Israel.
Education and Traveling Exhibitions
The Sandra and Leon Levine Dead Sea Scrolls Education Wing
Responsible for all educational programs relating to the Dead Sea Scrolls World Center for the Dead Sea Scrolls in the . It will provide visitors with the opportunity to benefit from the knowledge and expertise of our archaeologists and curators, and to have access to historical and current research conducted in Israel and overseas.
Our curators and archaeologists will continue to develop and expand the extraordinary program of traveling exhibitions of Scrolls to museums and libraries around the world, and will be responsible for the development and execution of educational programs, lectures, symposiums and material relating to the Scrolls.
Library and Study Room
The Dead Sea Scrolls Reference Library will be the most comprehensive library about the Dead Sea Scrolls and Qumran, including all archival material relating to issues such as the excavations of Qumran, conservation and publication of the Scrolls.
The Dead Sea Scrolls Scholars and Researchers' Study Room will provide authorized researchers and scholars direct access to the fragile material in a comfortable setting. It will be adjacent to the Dead Sea Scrolls Conservation Laboratories, allowing those interested and permitted to study the original documents direct, easy access to the material.
Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibitions
More than 4.5 million people visited our exhibitions which we plan to continue in the future:
- Vatican Apostolic Library
- St. Gallen Abbey Library, Switzerland
- New South Wales Museum, Australia
- Romisch Germanisches Museum, Cologne, Germany
- The Library of Congress
- The New York Public Library
- The Field Museum
- San Francisco Museum of Fine Arts
- San Diego Museum of Natural History
- Exploration Center, Charlotte, NC
- Seattle Museum of Natural History
- Jewish Museum