Adjacent to the Dead Sea in Israel, is an ancient Biblical Secret waiting to be discovered. Qumran is the place where the ancient Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered by Bedouin shepherds after 2000 years.
I took a tour with www.touristisrael.com to visit Qumran, and I was amazed by the archaeological site that had been excavated at the site of the discovery of the scrolls. Join me and take a look at the secret of the Dead Sea Scrolls in Qumran.
How to get to Qumran
Public transport is not so readily available in these parts of Israel and so it is recommended that you hire a guide or join a guided tour. Qumran is located on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea in the Judean desert. It is somewhere between Jerusalem and the major Dead Sea beaches and attractions such as Ein Gedi and Masada. Many people combine a visit to Qumran with a trip to the Dead Sea (for bathing) and/or Masada (an ancient fortress containing the ruins of King Herod’s palace).
What to take for your visit to Qumran
- A water bottle (it can get hot in the Judean desert)
- Comfortable walking boots (there is a fair buit of walking around the archaeological site.
- Cash in Shekels fo entrance fee
- A good camera
- Swimsuit, bikini or swimming trunks for swimming in the Dead Sea – you will float!
What are the Dead Sea Scrolls?
The Dead Sea Scrolls were ancient texts written in Hebrew by the Essenes, a Jewish sect who arrived at Qumran in the second Century BCE. The scrolls were hidden in jars for nearly 2000 years before they were discovered. The climate of the desert helped to preserve them.
The writing on the scrolls contained the Old Testament, the Apocrypha and some of the sects own work. There are both religious and non-religious texts discovered at this site. Pieces of the original scrolls can be found in the Israel Museum.
Qumran Archaeological Site
Qumran archaeological site is open all year round from 8-4pm (with some extended opening hours to 5pm during the summer months and high season). Last entry is one hour before closing. The cost of a ticket was 21 Shekels at the last time of checking. You can buy your ticket at the front desk and there is no need to book in advance.
The Cave of the Dead Sea Scrolls
The scrolls were discovered in a cave by Bedouin Shepherds in 1947. Myself and my friend Sharon were extremely excited to see the cave close up, but then got confused as to why you could not go right up to it There seemed to be a man in the distance at the foot of the cave….
Ok, girls, wrong cave! Keep walking through the archaeological site until you come to the real cave where 90% of the scrolls were discovered!
Scrolls were, in fact, found in other caves around the Red Sea, so we may not have been too far wrong initially!
Who were the Essenes?
The Essenes were a Jewish Sect who studied and lived in Qumran for two Centuries through the great revolt of the Jews against the Romans.
In the year 31BCE, during the reign of King Herod, there was a huge earthquake that destroyed the area. However, a quarter of a Century later, during the rule of Archelaus (Herod’s son), they returned to rebuild it. This is likely to be when the Dead Sea Scrolls were written.
The Archaeological site of the Legend of the Dead Sea Scrolls
Following the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls in 1947, the site was excavated by archeologists who discovered the majority of scrolls in the cave pictured above, and more in other areas around the Dead Sea.
An ancient aqueduct runs from the main entrance of the excavation site.
The Essenes were extremely ritualistic, and took purification baths twice daily. On the excavation site at Qumran, there were several ‘Mikveh’ or Jewish ritual baths.
They lived a communal life, with assembly halls and ritual dining areas for ceremonial meals.
The excavation also revealed a kitchen, a pottery workshop and a watch tower.
I feel completely privilaged to have visited Qumran, the place of the discovery of these ancient scrolls. Many thanks to www.travelisrael.com, who discounted my trip with 50% off.
Further Reading on Israel
You might also like to read about:
- Israel Tours
- Church of the Holy Sepulchre
- City of David – The Real Ancient Jerusalem
- Highlights of the Holy Land Israel
I have also produced a full guide on solo travel in Israel. Despite the concerns about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I actually found Israel a very easy place to travel and well geared up fro tourists.