The Dead Sea Scrolls at Seventy – "Clear a Path in the Wilderness"   70 Years of the State of Israel, 70 Years of Scrolls’ Discoveries

 Next week we will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the most important archaeological find of the twentieth century, at a path-breaking international conference at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Israel Museum. For 2,000 years, the Judean Desert kept its secrets hidden. With the discovery of the Scrolls on the eve of the establishment of the State of Israel, a window opened onto a trove of rich and varied literature from the end of the Second Temple period.

 

Researchers from all over the world and experts in many fields of knowledge, including archeology, Bible, Jewish thought, ancient Jewish law (halacha), the New Testament, sociology, geology, and other sciences, will gather to discuss different aspects of the Judean Desert where the Scrolls were unearthed, both as the physical site of desert communities and as the symbolic place where biblical events and stories are set. The inter-disciplinary exchange and inter-institutional collaboration at this wide-ranging conference will allow for further significant progress in the study of the Second Temple period, the maturation of Judaism, and the beginning of Christianity.

The conference is organized jointly by the Hebrew University’s Orion Center for the Study of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Associated Literature, the Israel Antiquities Authority, the Shrine of the Book in the Israel Museum, the University of Vienna, and New York University.

The morning of the third day of the conference (Tuesday, May 1), to be held at the Israel Museum, will be devoted mainly to presenting the archaeological investigations that have been carried out in the Judean Desert in recent years, including the search for more scrolls and artefacts, and the pursuit of robbers seeking to plunder the finds, whose value is priceless.

On May 1 in the evening, beginning at 19:00, the Museum will host a program of lectures in Hebrew, open to the public. It will moderated by Prof. Esther Chazon, director of the Orion Center for the Study of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Associated Literature at the Hebrew University. The first lecture – “From the Desert to the Forefront of Science: Documentation, Conservation and Accessibility of the Dead Sea Scrolls,” which will be given by Pnina Shor, curator and director of the Dead Sea Scrolls Project at the Israel Antiquities Authority, will also present new discoveries in the study of the scrolls. The lectures will be accompanied by simultaneous English translation.

Esther Chazon, director of the Orion Center for the Study of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Related Literature: “The Dead Sea Scrolls reveal a lost Jewish library from ancient times that opens a window onto Jewish life and thought during the Second Temple period. The conference, which will take place next week in Jerusalem, will be unprecedented in its integration of different fields of knowledge. The Dead Sea Scrolls are the most important archaeological find of the 20th century and their story, from their discovery and identification on November 29, 1948 until the completion of their publication in the 21st century, is an inseparable part of the story of the State of Israel. The cooperation we will see at the conference next week and the interface between archeology and analysis of the written material, maximize the information recovered from antiquity and its accessibility to the general public”.

 

Dr. Adolfo Roitman, curator of the Dead Sea Scrolls and director of the Shrine of the Book, “On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the discovery of the scrolls and on the background of the conference, the museum is celebrating with two new exhibitions – “Genesis Retold: An Exceptional Dead Sea Scroll” (Curators: Adolfo Roitman and Hagit Maoz) in the Shrine of the Book, and “The Faces behind the Scrolls” (Curator: Rotem Arieli) in the Dorot Foundation Dead Sea Scrolls Information and Study Center. In addition to these, and in honor of the conference session to be held at the museum on May 1, 2018, the exhibition “Sara in the Eyes of the Beholder: the Story Retold by the Dead Sea Scrolls” will be opened in the Youth Wing (Curators: Eli Bruderman and Eldad Shaaltiel) with works prepared by art students. The three exhibitions shed light on the scrolls from new and surprising angles and have the power to arouse renewed public interest in these national treasures”.

Pnina Shor, curator and head of the Dead Sea Scrolls Project at the Israel Antiquities Authority: “On the 70th anniversary of the discovery of the scrolls, we can state with satisfaction that we are working not only to preserve the scrolls for future generations, but are also making them accessible through the most advanced means in the world to both the public and scholars. The cutting-edge technologies employed by the Israel Antiquities Authority today provide endless new directions for research on the scrolls, so that the secrets of the most important archaeological find of the 20th century continue to be revealed to us. We hope that by the time of the 80th anniversary of the discovery of the scrolls other scrolls will be discovered in the Judean Desert, and that with the help of new technologies we will be able to conserve them in the best possible manner, explore and discover more significant layers in this enormous and dramatic cultural asset that was entrusted to us for safekeeping”.

 

Photo  Israel Antiquities Authority / Shai Halevi