Dead Sea Scrolls: Words That Changed the World

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June 27, 2009 to January 3, 2010 Feature Exhibition Garfield Weston Exhibition Hall, Level B2, Michael Lee-Chin Crystal

Among the Dead Sea Scroll texts are some of the earliest records of biblical patriarchs and prophets known to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. For 2,000 years, these scrolls lay in desert caves above the salt-laden waters of the Dead Sea. Uncovered between 1947 and 1956 in 11 caves near Khirbet Qumran, and dating approximately to 250 BCE to 68 CE, the scrolls are one of the greatest archaeological finds of all time.

From more than 100,000 fragments of text, scholars have painstakingly assembled more than 900 separate documents. There are some 200 copies of books from the Hebrew Bible--some of them more than 1,000 years older than any previously known versions--apocryphal manuscripts, works that had previously been known only in translation, or that had not been known at all, as well as hymns, prayers, and other writings.

Sixty years after their discovery, there are numerous theories regarding the scrolls' origins. One view is that they were created by the Essenes, a group of Jews whose beliefs and practices differed from those of mainstream Judaism. When the Romans invaded their desert community around 68 CE, the Essenes are thought to have hidden the manuscripts in nearby caves. Other theories suggest the manuscripts have little or no connection to Khirbet Qumran, and may be more mainstream than previously thought.

Beginning in June, the ROM will display 17 authentic Dead Sea Scrolls-different scrolls during each of two three-month periods. This original ROM exhibition offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the rarely- and never-before- seen scrolls. …