The Ancient Biblical Manuscripts Center.

Preserving the Dead Sea scrolls.


The Ancient Biblical Manuscripts Center in Claremont, California, is dedicated to preserving the record that the Dead Sea scrolls have afforded us since their discovery in 1947. A shepherd boy discovered the scrolls in a system of caves near the Dead Sea in Israel. They are invaluable for our knowledge of the religious climate in Palestine from a century or two before Christ to about 70, the date of the fall of Jerusalem.

(Refer to the Dead Sea scrolls factsheet for more information.)

The Dead Sea scrolls have been called the most important archaeological discovery of the twentieth century. There is a problem, however. They are decaying. For nearly two millennia the desert sand and hot, dry climate protected them, but now that they have been exposed to other elements they are beginning to fade.

Enter the Ancient Biblical Manuscripts Center. Bruce Zuckerman has made it his life goal to photograph in painstaking detail every last Dead Sea scroll before the slow decay makes further papyrological research impossible. I happened to attend a lecture in 1993 given by Zuckerman, at which he offered a selection of high-resolution photographs of selected scrolls and papyri for a donation. I donated, and still have the photos. I have uploaded images of four of them. (The images do not compare to the originals!)