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Scrolls from the Dead Sea. In the cistern which is below the rampart. On the east side. In a place hollowed out of rock there are 600 bars of silver. Nearby in the pit facing north near the grave. In a hole opening to the north. There is a copy of a book. With explanation measurements and all details. These are instructions for finding a buried treasure. Instructions which were inscribed on copper rolled into a scroll. And about the time of Christ placed in a cave overlooking the Dead Sea near Jerusalem. We're not certain who put it there.
But it's probable that one day in the fateful spring of 60 A.D. as the Roman legions were sweeping down on Jerusalem. This grove was sealed in the written word jar and hidden in the cave which gave it refuge for almost 2000 years. This and other scrolls all found recently comprise twentieth century scholarships most fascinating and momentous discovery. The treasure trove program five of scrolls from the Dead Sea produced by radio station WAGA of the University of Wisconsin under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. In 1947 two Arab boys searching for a missing goat in a cave on the shores of the Dead Sea found several ancient parchment scrolls.
Since 1947 more such documents have been found hidden in these caves these discoveries are now being studied and translated. Their contents published and evaluated. One of the scholars working on the scrolls is Dr. Menachem Mansoor chairman of the department of Hebrew and Semitic Studies at the University of Wisconsin. Recently Professor Mansoor traveled in Europe Israel and America collecting documentary materials for these programs. He interviewed and tape recorded over 25 leading scholars and theologians. Now back at the University of Wisconsin professor Mansoor has planned and written this series of programs exploring the meaning and content of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Professor Mansoor. In previous broadcasts I have discussed the fabulous discoveries of ancient biblical or non-biblical manuscripts in the region. I have discussed the finds and the controversy over the dating of those documents.
But the search for more scrolls has continued since 1948 in 1952 to badly corroded copper scrolls were discovered in one of the caves. These were found later to be two sections of the same scroll. Its material is interesting because copper was a very expensive material at that time and its use would indicate highly important information to be preserved for a long time. These scrolls were so completely oxidized and brittle and found that any attempt to enroll them would have turned them to dust. The scrolls came to the United States in 1953 but following unsuccessful attempts to open them at Johns Hopkins University the copper scrolls were sent back to the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem in 1956. They were flown from Jordan to the University of Manchester in England where these amazing scrolls were successfully
cut open and deciphered. But let's hear about the discovery and condition of these scrolls from the man who first deciphered their contents. Dr. John Allegro is a lecturer in comparative Semitic philology at the University of Manchester England. He was instrumental in bringing the copper scrolls to Manchester to be under old and is therefore very qualified to give us some details about the discovery of these scrolls. I interviewed Dr. Allegro at the University of Manchester and asked him first to talk about the circumstances in which the copper scrolls were found. The Bedouin had found the second cave in 1952 in the spring and after that had been excavated the archaeologists decided to take the initiative from the Tamera better in and organize their own expedition to comb the whole of the cliffs behind the Koran
monastery for a distance of some five miles. A joint party it was organized under the leadership of Father De Voe with the collaboration of Dr. Reed and the party from the American school. During this time some two hundred sixty caves and crevices in the rock face were explored and of these twenty five produced pottery identical with that found in the first cave and in the monastery itself. But the most exciting discovery of all was made on the 14th of March. Now one team cleared away the rubble from a cave whose roof had collapsed in antiquity and discovered the remains of some scroll jars. Characteristic shape and with it with the many scroll fragments but most exciting of all lying against an in a wall two rolled up copper strips. When the dust was cleared from these they could be seen that the metal had been inscribed from the inside and indentation showed
clearly that the writing was the square outer made lettering in most common use on the scrolls. However the strips were so brittle they couldn't then be opened and for three years they lay in a showcase in the Palestine museum awaiting a solution to the problem of how to open them without destroying the writing. Indeed Johns Hopkins University of Baltimore Dr. Corwin and his assistants carried out extensive research into the problems of restoring corroded metal objects of archaeological interests and the use strips in particular. But the general opinion was that the safest method of opening them would be by cutting. And how did you manage to get the scrolls to Manchester. Well having for three years looked at these crows lying in their case I was wondering of course or what was in them. I suggested to Mr.
Harding in the spring of 1955 that when a decision was made about where to send them for cutting he might consider a main Just because I was sure that here in Manchester we'd have the necessary resources and ingenuity necessary for this delicate operation. On my return to and just on Harding wrote to me asking me to pursue the matter further. And after one or two on of successful attempts Professor Fish or of the university suggested I should approach talk to both the principal of the College of Technology. Apparently they've been discussing the problem in the morning train and he had shown considerable interest. Well this I did I saw Dr. Bowden in his office and was received with such interest and enthusiasm that I had no hesitation in writing to Harding that very night with my food recommendation that the work should be placed in the hands of the College of Technology.
Well the Jordan government was approached and they agreed that the smaller of the strip should come to Manchester whither it was brought by Harding himself in the summer of last year 1955. This then was the man who was mainly responsible for bringing the copper scrolls to England to the University of Manchester. But the man who actually opened the scroll was Professor Wright Baker of the University of Manchester. I interviewed him in his office in the School of Technology and I asked him to give us some details about the problems involved and particularly about the technique of unrolling the scroll and the tools used for this purpose. Here is Professor Baker's answer as I tape recorded it. That day has presented a series of very fascinating problems. First discovered embedded in the dust of the floor of cave 3.
The tour rolls about 11 inches diameter and 11 inches long and 40 inches diameter just like Swiss rolls. The thickness of the metal was about four times that of a postcard. And the row showed on the outside edge is a series of rivets which adjoined the two together. So the original is the scrolls had formed a single plaque about eight feet long and 11 inches wide. If the scrolls were green colored and showed considerable embossed seen on the outside. Clearly having been written over on the interface by means of a punch. The document was obviously a major one because it contained probably two or three thousand letters. And the problems arose. Why was such an expensive form of writing material used. Were they ever hung up. And if not what was the purpose.
If there was a good deal of cracking and one end of this crap one of the scrolls are being seriously damaged. In the terms of this crowd or there was a heavy packing of desert dust and many of the turns had it here together partly by the decomposition products and partly by a stony deposit which had been formed from the desert dust itself. The purpose of the scroll could only be shown if it was possible to open them and read the lettering inside but they were an extremely grave difficulty arose. The material was far too brittle to allow any bendin or unroll in and also much too brittle to stand treatment by means of heat. The company mixture
of desert dust and decomposition products also made it quite impracticable to separate the fireworks on any large scale so that the only method of opening seemed to be to cut the scroll into sections and remove the pieces one by one. It's at this stage is an entirely chance discussion in in the local train brought me into the picture with a question as to whether it would be possible to cut a wooden brittle bronze. There are many ways in which it could be done. There are several types of hands. There is a little tiny A which is used for splitting the neighbors of Fountain panes. And in an extreme case it might be possible to use the very thin diamond impregnated grinding wheel such as is used for cutting micro sections of human teeth. So that the
problem of cutting wasn't a serious one. And I suggested that the real serious difficulty was that presented by the brittleness. And further I suggested that one of the modern adhesives they might be used to form a backing. I must have been sounding very convincing many day because I was within a few weeks very much to my surprise that Dr Lancaster Harding himself placed the scroll on my desk in Manchester and asked me to go ahead. The first problem was to map the scroll so that we could manipulate it without touching it. Because that would probably cause serious damage by breaking. We were able to loosen the sand at the center of the scroll and insert a long steel spindle. After the scroll had been mounted on the spindle it was cleaned and
coated with addle diked which is the modern piece of which we used. And then was put on the sewing machine and the cart was taken down one the length of one side. After this the dust underneath the piece to be removed was broken away by scraping or by means of brushing it and generally the piece of this crow lifted perfectly clearly showing the letter in very obviously exposed on the in the surface. A few brushes with a tooth brush made that perfectly clear. In some cases a considerable amount of cleaning had to be done because to remove the fairly thick layer of decomposition products and the deposits of these stony material which had formed from the desert dust. But this took a rather long time it was completed
with no serious damage at all and we now have a record containing some 3000 letters nearly all perfectly clear. Probably not more than 5 percent of the original letters are missing from the document. So it must be one of the most complete which we have. During this work of course. A large number of photographs were taken in case we happened to drop the scroll or any further damage occurred and after the pieces had been removed each one was carefully photographed from a number of different directions to show the lettering as clearly as possible. And I for one would like to express my very sincere thanks for this quite on expected opportunity to take part in the most fascinating investigation. You can imagine from Dr. Baker's description what a fascinating investigation this must have been.
But when Dr. Baker's difficult job was finished The Copper Scroll still had to be translated for the world had waited a long time to find out what they contained. Dr John Allegro must have felt great excitement as the first of the copper strips came to him. When I interviewed him in England I asked him to give us his impressions and reactions when he was finally able to read the contents of the copper scrolls. Here is Dr. Legros answer which he recorded for me at that time. Well it was some little time before I guessed what it was because the first half column came away told me very little apart from the fact from some buildings were involved. But then as the work progressed and I was able to leave the strip side by side the import of this fantastic document became inescapable. Mind you there were and indeed still are a good many difficult passages in the text because the scribe who wrote it was
clearly taking care that an authorised persons like myself should not have easy access to the Cherry secrets of the sicht. He didn't use one of the codes or ciphers which he could have done and which we found in other documents from the caves but he did run his words together using fine mode and media letters in the wrong places and even changing their TOS round in order to make the reading more so more difficult. Incidentally it succeeded. Furthermore the dialect of Hebrew he was using then known it's in its general characteristics from the Mishna contains words and phrases not otherwise recorded and these may well be colloquialisms of the period and of course very interesting from a philological angle soon as the nature of the document became apparent. I wrote immediately to Harding holidaying in Cyprus and gave him the news. Letters followed almost daily as more and more exciting references came to light. Until last November I was able to send him
a full transcription together with a very provisional notes and translations. These scrolls have dumbfounded the scholars instead of dealing with Biblical subjects they reveal clues to earthly buried treasure of silver and gold worth countless millions. Hordes of fabulous value. Why this spiritually minded sect which disregarded earthly wealth should have been interested in buried treasure still puzzles the scholars. Some believe that the scrolls were given to the sect by some other group for safekeeping. The insect probably was seen and they were noted for their strictness and moral integrity. We will learn more of them in a later broadcast. Dr. William Reid has another suggestion. He was a member of the team which first discovered the copper scrolls. Now professor of the Old Testament
at the College of the Bible he recorded this interview in Lexington Kentucky. Here is his answer to the mystery of the Copper Scroll treasure. There is nothing surprising in the fact that the s tienes should keep a list of traitors we know from a reading of their literature that they held all property in common and that a newcomer to the community after he had satisfied the leaders of his serious intention and his religious ability would be expected to give up his personal property. In fact on the day that the copper scrolls were discovered by studying the outside of one of them we thought we could make out the Hebrew words for gold and silver. It is quite reasonable then that a people who had embraced holy poverty would place their possessions in the custody of the Qumran community. However the amount of
the traitors some 60 in all and amounting to more than 200 tons of silver and gold is a fantastic amount at the present time I think I should have to agree with my friend who has an excellent article on the copper scrolls published in vol. 19 of the biblical archaeologist. In this article he says quote It goes almost without saying that the document is not an historical record of actual treasures buried in antiquity. End of quote. In Josephus and in later Arabic manuscripts there are evolutions to the fabulous treasures in the tomb of David and other treasures in other parts of the Near East. It appears that the value of the copper scrolls were a lie not in the direction in which they give to hidden treasures but in the light which they shed upon linguistic and
historical matters pertaining to the Qumran community. Now if the treasure is ever found and if it is found it will probably remain secret. It would include a fantastic figure of 200 tons of gold and silver worth over two hundred million dollars at present dealer's prices to manufacturers scholars in Jordan were quick to say that the treasure probably does not exist. For one thing they say there is the obvious fantastic amount of the treasure. Secondly there is the depth of 16 to 18 feet deep at which the treasure supposedly lies. Also there are many legends throughout the east about battered treasure when checked they have usually proved false. So far Norway has been found to check the clues because the shape of the land has greatly changed since the scrolls were written two thousand years ago.
Moreover the copper scrolls refer to another mysterious crawl hitherto not discovered which contains explanations measurements and details of the treasure. The two scrolls telling of the treasure are our own copper. They are the only copper scrolls that have been found. Copper was an expensive metal at that time and its use in the scroll indicated highly important information that the writers wanted to preserve on something more permanent than leather parchment. The British director of antiquities in Jordan announced that the information refers to legendary traditions of treasure. I personally doubt whether anyone would go to all the trouble of Engraving legends on copper scrolls. I put this question to Dr allegro and this was his answer. Here's the question. Well now regarding the contents of these
scrolls I've got to be careful because I'm not allowed to add more to the short press release made at the beginning of this month of June. My colleagues in Jerusalem who besides myself are the only persons yet to read the complete document have apparently come to the conclusion that it's a collection of ancient traditions concerning mythical deposits of treasure and of no particular relevance to the sick. Now I confess that I find it difficult to agree with this opinion entirely for I can't understand why a sect which was not likely to have been interested in such wealth for its own sake should have taken the trouble to inscribe on such durable material irrelevant traditions and hide them along with the sacred scrolls from their library in a secret cache. It's undeniable however that some of the amounts mentioned are so colossal as to be perhaps spurious. But they do need critical examination in the light of the
obscurantist writing of this scribe. In conclusion I'd simply add that it would seem to me unwise to dismiss this document summer early as of no historical worth the place names mention must have had a particular relevance for the saying and seriously examined may well lead us to further installations yet undiscovered. The letters in the Copper Scroll have been heavily indented on the metal from end from the inside. They must have had considerable importance in the eyes of the command community to warrant the use of such durable material. It is perhaps relevant to note here that the Talmud the gigantic post Biblical of the work of the rabbis the gigantic post biblical work of the rabbis referred to the fact that important inscriptions were inscribed on copper or gold plates for the purpose of preserving them for generations to come. The Talmud for instance tells us
that Queen Helena had an inscribed golden plate in her possession. It is interesting to note here that the first book of Mecca is believed to have been written about the end of the 2nd century B.C. also refers to texts inscribed on copper scrolls. But we should have to wait until the full text is published to find out more about these copper scrolls. So far only three excerpts have been released. This sound like nothing biblical. Rather this sound like something written in blood and the dark of the moon by one of the characters in Treasure Island. Here are the excerpts in the cistern which is below the rampart on the east side. In a place hollowed out of rock there are 600 bars of silver close by. Below the southern corner of the portico docks too there is a vessel of incense in Pinewood and a vessel of incense
in Cashel wood near by in the pit facing north. Near the grave in a hole opening to the north. There is a copy of a book with explanations measurements and all details. But who is a sad dog. Where is his tomb. One was the founder of an important branch of the priesthood in Jerusalem and under King Solomon he was appointed High Priest from the time of Solomon and the descendants of saddo constituted the most prominent family among the priests. The high priests being elected from the ranks till the time of the Maccabees second century B.C. but there were at least eight others of that name including the famous party the Sadducees which had flourished about the second century too and are mentioned in the New Testament.
Moreover according to the first chapter of Matthew is an ancestor of Joseph Mary's husband was also called saddle that makes matters very difficult for would be treasure hunter. All the more so because the location of the tomb is not known. One final word and that is the importance of the copper scrolls. They are the first ancient documents discovered that give clues to buried treasures. They constituted the alders guide to a treasure trove ever found there also written in post biblical missionary and I believe to be the earliest known extensive texts in that dialect. Next week I shall discuss the Genesis apocrypha on one of the scrolls found in the original 1947 discoveries. This scrolls at first incorrectly called the scroll also presented unrolling problem. The Genesis apocrypha on the story of how it was unrolled and what it contains will
constitute our next broadcast scrolls from the Dead Sea program five in a series of documentary explorations of the greatest archaeological discovery of the century. These programmes are produced by Radio Station W H A of the University of Wisconsin under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center. The planning writing and narration is by Dr Menachem Mansoor chairman of the department of Hebrew and Semitic Studies at the University of Wisconsin script assistance for this program on the scupper scroll was by Cliff emblem production by Carl Schmidt original theme music by Don vaguely. Scholars heard by tape recording on the program were professors John Allegro and Wright Baker of Manchester College in England and William Reed of the College of the Bible. Lexington Kentucky. This program is distributed by the National Association of educational broadcasters. This is the NEA E.B. Radio Network.
Scrolls from the Dead Sea
The treasure trove
Producing Organization
University of Wisconsin
WHA (Radio station : Madison, Wis.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program focuses on two particular scrolls which tell of buried treasure.
Series Description
The story of the Dead Sea Scrolls, featuring interviews with 30 leading scholars, scientists, archeologists and theologians.
Broadcast Date
Hidden treasures
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Composer: Voegeli, Don
Producing Organization: University of Wisconsin
Producing Organization: WHA (Radio station : Madison, Wis.)
Production Manager: Schmidt, Karl
Speaker: Reid, William
Speaker: Stribling, Don
Speaker: Allegro, John Marco, 1923-
Writer: Mansoor, Menahem
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 57-21-5 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:06
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Chicago: “Scrolls from the Dead Sea; The treasure trove,” 1957-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 26, 2024,
MLA: “Scrolls from the Dead Sea; The treasure trove.” 1957-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 26, 2024. <>.
APA: Scrolls from the Dead Sea; The treasure trove. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from