Introduction to the Dead Sea Scrolls
---Discovery of the Scrolls
The first seven Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered by chance in 1947 by Bedouin, in a cave near Khirbet Qumran on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea. Three of the scrolls were immediately purchased by archaeologist E. L. Sukenik on behalf of the Hebrew University; the others were bought by the Metropolitan of the Syrian Orthodox Church in East Jerusalem, Mar Athanasius Samuel. In 1948 Samuel smuggled the four scrolls in his possession to the United States; it was only in 1954 that Sukenik’s son, Yigael Yadin, also an archaeologist, was able to bring them back to this country.
Over the next few years, from 1949 to 1956, additional fragments of some 950 different scrolls were discovered, both by Bedouins and by a joint archaeological expedition of the École Biblique et Archéologique Française and the Rockefeller Museum, under the direction of Professor Father Roland de Vaux. Since then, no further scrolls have come to light, though excavations have been carried out from time to time at the site and nearby.