thumbnail of Scrolls from the Dead Sea; The incredible discovery
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
Scrolls from the Dead Sea. I shall praise Thee O Lord for thou hast enlightened me through tightrope and I marvel the secret Stone has made known to me. For who is he man of emptiness and sanity to consider thy one Christine. In the assemblies I shall bless by name. This is part of an ancient Hebrew song inscribed on a sheepskin parchment. Rolled into a scroll sealed in a jar. 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 68 A.D. the Roman legions wept down on Jerusalem. Jar hidden in the woods given refuge for almost 2000. In 1947. This and other scrolls were discovered. They were found by an Arab shepherd boy searching for a lost goat. The incredible discovery program one of scrolls from the Dead Sea. A radio exploration of the most significant archaeological find of the 20th century. These programs are 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. This is the story of the Dead Sea Scrolls as told by the scholars and archaeologists who have been studying the implications of the discovery. One of these scholars is the writer and planner of this series Dr. Mina Hamm Mansoor chairman of the department of Hebrew and Semitic Studies at the University of Wisconsin. The series is based on his findings during his recent tour of Europe and Israel. Professor Mansoor. The fore I begin I wish to dedicate this series of programs to two great scholars connected with this discovery from the very beginning. Professor William Albright of Johns Hopkins University for his unfailing guidance encouragement and inspiration and the late Professor Lee passa Cannick of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem whose vision and courage have saved some of these priceless scrolls for the world. And now back to the dates the scrolls
in the spring of 1947 two Arab Bedouin searching for a straying goat came upon a treasure trove of scrolls containing ancient wisdom and forgotten truths dating back to the time of Christ. And earlier this cross were found in the wilderness of Judea not far from the western banks of the date's sea and are therefore called the dates the scrolls. This wilderness is a wild and barren stretch about 12 miles wide. It separates the hilly countries in which lie the holy cities of Jerusalem and Bethlehem from the deep cleft of the sea into the northern end of which flows the River Jordan. Throughout the long centuries it has been the current of bandits and outlaws and asylum for political and religious refugees who found its camouflaged caves among the rocks. The perfect hiding place. It was in one of these caves that David fled from King Saul in this
wilderness. The good Samaritan played his part here. John the Baptist lived studied and preached. It was in this wilderness that a pre-Christian monastic Jewish sect known as the scenes had gone to live and see God and it was here at the small rain settlement known today as Herbert Cameron that a stroke of good luck skillfully combined with devoted science recently brought to light not only the all the Bible sources but also important documents containing knowledge on the pre-Christian era. This then is the history of the area where the dates the scrolls were found. In climate it is hot and dry in appearance. Wasteland. But here is an actual description of the area. The voice is that of Geoffrey brights of the BBC. He's standing at the entrance of
one of the caves where scrolls were found. On his shoulder is a small portable tape machine which records the thoughts as he looks down at the dates and across to the hills beyond here on the hillside 300 feet above the level of the Dead Sea. That's a thousand feet below the level of every other sea. There is a cool wind blowing. It's whipping up white horses over the water and blowing a few brilliant white clouds over the blue sky below me on a small headland stand the ruins of the Monastery of the SE from whose library the Dead Sea Scrolls were almost certainly brought to the hundreds of caves which these bare brown cliffs. Behind me those cliffs rise up Sharon steep rugged and almost inaccessible to the barren wastes of the desert of Judea. From the top of them you could see away on the rolling hills the pinnacles of Jerusalem 30
miles away to the west to the east across the shimmering waters of the Dead Sea under a slight haze rise the hills at the further shore the hills from which Moses first saw the promised land and where Israel abode before crossing over the Jordan and storming the walls of Jericho. Mr. Bright outstanding documentary reporter of the British Broadcasting Corporation then took his recording machine inside one of the caves where the scrolls were found. But let us hear the story of the actual discovery of the first scrolls. The time is late spring of 1947. The cost to Arabs Mohamed and Ahmed has named much in this drama. The anonymous hero or heroine whatever the case may be is an innocent straying goat. For it is the goat which begins our exciting story of these priceless scrolls.
Of course there are many versions of the dates the scrolls discovering that this is a version which is generally accepted one day in the late spring of 1907 to better when shepherds were watching their flock along the rugged rocky Northwestern shore of the Dead Sea. The pitiless scorching sun of Palestine had already begun to part of the land about here and there in the shadow of the rocks patches of precious green were still to be found dozing in the sun. The shepherds paid little attention as their flock strayed about until suddenly one of the goats disappeared. MUHAMMAD The wolf woke up and started in pursuit of his missing animal. Following the sound of the goats bleating he clamored among the crags and crevices until the sound led him to the mouth of one of the numerous natural caves. The shepherd threw a stone through the opening of the cave and heard the sound of pottery breaking. This aroused his curiosity. He entered the cave and there he found his last goat. In the dim light of the interior He also noticed that the
floor of the cave was strewn with heaps of broken potsherds and so he began to dig around in the day Bree with his hands in the rubbish. He found several jars some still intact. Each covered with a lid. Removing the lids to look inside he was greeted with a powerful smell of decay from what appeared to be some sort of objects wrapped in cloth. Mohammed the wolf and his companion hurried to tell their fellow tribesmen of the find and together they returned to the cave saying their prayers against the evil spirits they re-entered the cave and emptied the jars. They hoped for gold treasure. But to their extreme disappointment they found not gold but several crumbling manuscripts. The first of the now famous Dead Sea Scrolls. Although the Bedouin were not interested in the contents of the scrolls the thought struck them immediately that money might yet be made from this discovery. They knew that in Bethlehem only a few miles away there lived an Arab dealer in antiquities who paid money for things which to them seemed worthless.
Taking a number of the leather scrolls they set out for Bethlehem. The Arabic dealer listened to their story rather skeptically and looked at the tattered scrolls. The price they were asking $60 fantastic absolutely no he said. Out of the question to pay so much for such brittle and wasted scrolls the better one therefore decided to try another Bethlehem antique merchant. After all they bought their supplies from him. Now perhaps he would buy from them. This time their luck was better. The merchant did not want to scrolls himself but he knew someone who might be interested in them. This Someone was the Syrian archbishop of St. Mark's monastery in Jerusalem sometimes called the Syrian Metropolitan or Archbishop Samuel. On his next visit to Jerusalem the merchant called at the monastery in the Old City met the Archbishop and subsequently sold him four of the scrolls. The Bedouin then succeeded in selling several more scrolls to the skeptical first dealer. On November 20 9th this dealer from
Bethlehem met a man named Sue Kinnick who was a professor of archaeology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The dealer showed zucchini several fragments of the scrolls and zucchini can media to recognize their antiquity and importance. A meeting was arranged for the following day in Bethlehem. But throughout Palestine there was much excitement and stir for on November 29 the United Nations decided to create the state of Israel and violence broke out between the Jews and Arabs. Souquet Nick realizing the importance of his meeting with the antique dealer decided to try to reach Bethlehem through the southern mountains of Jerusalem. But where the road safe he consulted his son. You guy oh yeah Dean. Also an archaeologist who was then a senior officer of the Israeli army and later became chief of staff. The son told the fathers who came in as a military man I advise you not to make the journey as an archaeologist I say that you ought to go. But as your son I am afraid my opinion has to be reserved so Canuck took his son's
archaeological advice instead of his military advice. He got through to Jerusalem and brought back three scrolls. These three scrolls went to the Hebrew University. Now here again is Professor Mansour. Much has happened since then and much water has flown into the river Jordan. The Bedouin shepherds after their original find set about scroll hunting in deadly earnest. Many even sold their flocks in order to give full time to the search. Some of them overcome by their sense of business adopted the custom of tearing what they had found into pieces believing that three fragments would fetch more money than one. It is possible even now that these precious fragments are being peddled to wealthy tourists who collect souvenirs to show the folks back home. The news of the scrolls and the legendary tales about their value have prompted
almost 700 inhabitants of the desert to act. They have even organized themselves into secret services and into private armed forces in order to guard the illicit excavators from the eyes of the police. For of course all antiquities found in this area would become the property of the government of Jordan. Eventually the Bedouin found more scrolls but before that the scholarly world also got into the scroll hunting business. Their first problem was to find the cave in which the Bedouin had found the first dates in scrolls. This project was undertaken in January of 1949. Finally in February systematic excavations began on a cave believed to be the one in which the Bedouin had found their original scrolls. This excavation was done by Mr. Harding. Then British director of antiquities for the government of Jordan and father divel of the
French Dominican school of archaeology. And this tape recording made on the shores of the date see Mr. Harding tells the story of how these scrolls first came to light. With him is Mr. Joseph sad Harding's Arab assistant to whom Bible scholars owe a great deal for his devotion and skill in obtaining the scrolls from the Bedouin. Much of the praise for these discoveries will be due to sad who under the inspiration of Harding did not hesitate to risk his life so that the knowledge of the world might been reached. Here is Mr. Harding. Well I myself first heard of them and I think it was November 1948. From a brief note in the Bulletin of the American schools and in this connection I brought in Mr. Saad who is the secretary of the museum and asked him to go down to Bethlehem and try and find some information from some of the Arabs there.
There was a side I think you went down to Bethlehem would you tell us what happened down there briefly. Yes I had to take the new road to Bethlehem through Santa and there after spending a few hours. Eventually I met our friend. How did this convert Shaheen. Who is it now and who has been a very quiet help to us. Yes and I believe I'm right in saying that he was going to say he was in fact the first person apart from the better to have handled this close at all and I would like just ask him that question on about the neck and the can I would ride by the lot one at a shop that I don't know and Judy and a lot of sense of RV. So can he says he was the first person in the he first saw them actually 147 which was sometime cause before we did but our next problem was to find
the two original shepherds who discovered this cave in the first place. And there again I think you see if you can tell us how you made contact with them. Well I had to spend one or two nights in the camps of the Bedouin camp is a little bit east of Bethlehem and there after having meals with them with them and coffee. Eventually I put my hand on the two friends the first chap who went into the cave. Yes and then you brought along to see me and I got the full story everything out of them. And later on when I got to know them better I had a vivid description from one of their relatives of how when they unrolled the biggest scroll it stretched from one end of that tent to the other. This indeed must have been the complete book of Isaiah which is a scroll some seven meters long or so. And that very briefly is how we first came to know of the famous Dead Sea Scrolls and how in fact we were able to identify the actual cave in which they were
found in the first place. Working in almost unbelievable circumstances. Mr. Harding and father Devo collected every piece of broken pottery every bit of linen and every fragment of parchment some evidences of more recent activity around the cave were also found there were bits of modern cloth newspapers and cigarette stubs exasperating mementos from the treasure hunters of the previous winter. This debris carefully examined and tested proved beyond all doubt that this was indeed the cave in which the Bedouins had found the first of the Dead Sea Scrolls. But let's go inside of one of these caves with Mr. Brattle and Mr. Harding. Since there was no electricity in this wilderness generators had to be imported to furnish light for the excavators and only Mr. Bright some small
portable tape recorder made this interview inside the cave. Possible. You will I think get an idea of the difficulties of archaeological work from Mr. Brightman's description of conditions in the cave. Inside the cave here the floor is thick with dust from which are being recovered. Some of the richest finds upon this Dead Sea coast a valuable part of the 40000 manuscript fragments which are currently being studied at your twosome outside the windows fresh in the sand and in here the air is hot and stay oh with their filthy stink of bats and the dust thrown up in clouds by every footfall. Furthermore all the air is absolutely filled with flies which are getting into my eyes and almost into my mouth to find I am speaking. Well it was in just such close and sweltering atmosphere as this that the work of collecting all the dead sea scrolls and fragments
has been conducted. Mr. Harding Can you give us some idea of what the work involved working in conditions like this. Well the president of course is completely empty. But when we came to it it was filled up with this very fine dust which we spoke about a little while ago. And one of the problems of working in such caves is a question of lighting. Ordinary pressure lamps won't stand up to this extraordinarily fine dust and are in fact suffocated in about 10 minutes as indeed almost are. So we have to import a small portable dynamo and light the whole place with electric light. What about the flyers and get used to those fries one becomes almost completely heart and two after time there they have it they have getting into one's eyes and mouth it certainly doesn't exactly make things easier for work. And what about the bats the bats had departed before we came here they left their traces behind as you have remarked already. This then is the work of the archaeologist. The exciting task of
finding priceless antiquities myths bats and flies in tiny sweltering caves. And this too the work of the radio people who follow them there to bring you a complete report. Now let's review the further history of the original group of scrolls. The Arabs remember had sold some to the Syrian archbishop of Jerusalem and some to Professor Souquet Nick of the Hebrew University. They asked Bishop had purchased four scrolls one the great scroll of Isaiah twenty four feet long which is much the same as that of our familiar Old Testament book of Isaiah to a manuscript which has been called the manual of discipline because it contains liturgical directions and rules concerning meetings and personal conduct of a religious community. 3. A scroll first called the limerick scroll which was not unrolled until 1956 later are known as the Genesis apocrypha on the
fourth is a commentary on the Old Testament book of Habakkuk. It is one of the most interesting scrolls because of its many historical allusions. These then are the scrolls acquired by the Syrian archbishop. The collection purchased by Professor Sue Cannick contained three scrolls a manuscript of Isaiah but not as complete as that of the Archbishop's other two scrolls are called the War of the sons of light with the sons of darkness and the Thanksgiving hymns. The first contains directions for the conduct of a war between two camps. The second called the Thanksgiving hymns contains about twenty him strongly resembling the Psalms of the Old Testament. This cross purchased by the archbishop in 1947 did not find the final place of safety until 1954. However for in 1949 both the Archbishop and his scrolls were
housed in the crossfire between Jews and Arabs in general of 1949. The archbishop had been persuaded to come to the United States hoping to sell the scrolls to some institution of learning but he could find no buyer for his half million dollar manuscript. Finally in June a small advertisement appeared in The Wall Street Journal inserted among different ads under the column miscellaneous for sale. Was this an AD date Sea Scrolls biblical manuscripts dating back to at least 200 B.C. are for sale. This would be an ideal gift to an educational or religious institution by an individual or group. This astonishing advertisement came to the attention of at least one interested young man. He was general Eagle the son
of the late Professor Cannick and formerly chief of staff of the Israeli army. But here is Dr. Dean one of the leading archaeologists in Israel. To tell you himself what happened after he had seen that advertisement this interview I recorded at his Hebrew University office in Jerusalem Dr.. This is a very strange and dramatic story. One may say so especially for me because it is the first three scrolls of Israel have been acquired by my late father already as early as 1947. I didn't know that in a very strange and dramatic in a second sense as it will be my task to finish the unfinished tasks began my father. I was in America in May 1954 for a tour of lectures. I didn't dream that I'm going to deal with this cause. But then I learned
that these calls were still in the hands of the Syrian metropolitan area I was afraid to contact them directly because I suspected that some perhaps of the authorities in Jordan might try to hinder the deal. Therefore I decided to conduct the whole negotiation security without revealing my identity and not embarrassing the Metropolitan himself. Through. A friend of mine started the negotiations which lasted for about a fortnight and when we came to the agreement about the price which was a quarter of a million dollars $250000 for the whole four scrawl which to some people may sound a very high Sam. But anyhow these calls are priceless and. Then we decided to buy them. Then of course there was the problem how to get the money up to that moment I even didn't think of this problem because I didn't believe that the whole transaction would take place. Fortunately enough the government of
Israel was ready to guarantee a considerable part of all of the money as a loan and after we finished the transaction I approach the late said God as one who died only three months ago. And he was immediately interested in this growth and he contributed. More than one hundred fifty thousand dollars for the better singer of the scrolls. Then of course was the problem how to ship them it was if we were afraid to put all the scrolls in one plane so we dispatch as close to scrawl in a different plane. And when they arrived safely in Jerusalem of course we very happy about it. Equation of the scrolls in Israel created very much interest and the government decided to build a special brand of the book in which all the seven scrolls will be put both for show and all the documents and literature and books relating to the Dead Sea Scrolls will be in this book and thus it will be possible for all the scholars scholars
of the world to come to Jerusalem and to study the actual scrolls themselves. You have just heard the account of the purchase of four scrolls from the Syrian archbishop. That's the Hebrew University of Jerusalem now possesses the seven large scrolls originally found in the cave by the Arab shepherd. This cave is known as cave one. More discoveries have been made since 11 of them so far. In addition to the seven scrolls over 40000 fragments have been found mainly by the tireless inhabitants of the desert. In future broadcasts we shall discuss the importance and significance of the discoveries. At this point it is sufficient for me to say that the Biblical fragments are generally believed to be over 2000 years old. This is of paramount importance for these fragments are there for 1000 years older than any other clearly dated all Testament
manuscript in our possession. The first spectacular result of the discovery of the scrolls for instance was to effect changes in the latest edition of the English Bible. The famous Revised Standard Version No fewer than 13 changes were accepted by the committee in charge. Moreover the non-biblical scrolls throw a great deal of light on the hitherto obscured period preceding the advent of Christianity. Indeed there has been heated controversy over the date of this cross as you will hear in future talks on this program. I believe however that these are mere incidentals. What matters most is that the data scrolls are now revealed to be of immense intrinsic value even surpassing the first hopes they have inspired already from out of the muster rolls of leather filled with Hebrew writing
Scrolls from the Dead Sea
The incredible discovery
Producing Organization
University of Wisconsin
WHA (Radio station : Madison, Wis.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-5q4rp60r).
Episode Description
How a shepherd boy made the first discovery of the caves. The buying and selling of the Scrolls.
Other Description
The story of the Dead Sea Scrolls, featuring interviews with 30 leading scholars, scientists, archeologists and theologians.
Broadcast Date
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Composer: Voegeli, Don
Producing Organization: University of Wisconsin
Producing Organization: WHA (Radio station : Madison, Wis.)
Speaker: King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968
Speaker: Schmidt, Karl
Speaker: Harding, G. Lankester (Gerald Lankester), 1901-
Speaker: Yadin, Yigael, 1917-1984
Speaker: Brightson, Jeffrey
Speaker: Saad, Joseph
Writer: Mansoor, Menahem
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 57-21-1 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:07
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “Scrolls from the Dead Sea; The incredible discovery,” 1957-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed August 19, 2022,
MLA: “Scrolls from the Dead Sea; The incredible discovery.” 1957-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. August 19, 2022. <>.
APA: Scrolls from the Dead Sea; The incredible discovery. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from