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(Hebrew: חירבת קומראן) is located on a dry plateau near an Israeli
kibbutz Kalia. It is most famous for
secret texts that were discovered here by the Bedouins in the middle of
the 20th century. They were hidden in the Qumran caves in 69- 71 AD to
hide from the incoming Roman army.
Qumran is located on the North- West shore of the Dead Sea. In the
middle of the 20th centuries archaeologists discovered numerous
biblical scrolls after a Bedouin boy
reported an initial discovery. These texts were hidden by a small
Judaic community of
Essenes. Jars were kept here in secret for the
past 20 centuries. This discovery caused a sensation in the
scientific world and influenced the study of the history of Judaism
Tourists who come to Qumran can explore the ruins of the ancient
settlement dating back to the Second Temple including catchment
tank, with two rectangular ponds, ceramic furnaces and many others
signs of the vibrant and rich community that once flourished here.
First settlement of this religious group date back to 130s, but by
100s the city grew in size. Essenes built two and even three storey
buildings and set up a complex system of water delivery, reservoirs
and many channels. Water was supplied via an aqueduct from the gorge
of Wadi Qumran where the dam was built. This dam gathered rain water
and springs water.
An interesting feature of Qumran settlement is lack of bedrooms. It
is quiet possible that people slept in the nearby caves and tens.
Stone buildings were used for study, storage and art work of the
The site was settled in the second century BC by a
that came to be known as Essenes. These Jews refused the worldly goods
and chose to live celibate lives in a community away from the corrupt
priesthood and temptations of the society. A long dining hall for the
members of the community was a place where they all ate and gathered.
Cisterns and ritual baths were damaged by an earthquake of 31 BC, but
aside from cracks did not cause large damage. A cemetery to the north of
the site with over 1200 graves was found, but only few were excavated
due to Israeli laws against grave digging.
community is most famous for their
scrolls. Arab shepherd boys found the site in 1946 by accident in the
caves just to the west of the settlement. They threw couple of rocks
into an opening and then they heard the sound of the broken pottery they
decided to call for help. Excavations by father Roland de Vaux in 1951-
1953 yielded truly amazing results. Since then over 1000 of scrolls were
found in eleven caves. Besides books of Old Testament it has texts that
describe treasure descriptions and direction where they were buried.
Unfortunately that yielded no successful finds. A common misconception
puts Christian texts among the works Essenes. Despite what Dan Brown has
to say in his “Da Vinci Code” there is no evidence of any apocryphal
gospels. In fact texts were written a century before birth of Christ and
although some similarities occur it is largely due to the fact that the
base of Judaism is the same. However it is somewhat probable that John
the Baptist and even Jesus Christ might have lived here and influenced
by the views of the Essenes.
scrolls were hidden in the caves for the safekeeping against the
invading Roman army that captured
and swept through the area. Essenes apparently left the community, but
their legacy left a mark on Judaic and Christian traditions. Large
number of Essenes converted to Christianity and laid foundation for
monastic tradition in Christian Europe.