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Dead Sea Scrolls, 600 artifacts to exhibit at The Leonardo

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SALT LAKE CITY — The Dead Sea Scrolls will be on display in The Leonardo this fall.

Wednesday, The Leonardo museum announced that they would be showcasing 20 scrolls, including the oldest known copies of the Hebrew Bible, alongside about 600 artifacts from ancient Israel. They will display only 10 scrolls at one time.

Included in the exhibit will be portions of Genesis, Psalms, Exodus, Isaiah. The exhibit will also highlight Brigham Young University's relevant research contributions.

"It is a high compliment from Israel that Utah residents and visitors will be one of the few places in the country that will have the privilege of seeing the Dead Sea Scroll exhibition," Governor Gary R. Hebert said Wednesday. "The scrolls and the 600 other artifacts coming to Utah along with a several ton section of the temple mount 'wailing wall' will give many people a chance to experience a unique part of world history they might not have otherwise."

They did not name specific dates for the exhibit, but said it would be sometime in the fall.

The scrolls and hundreds of manuscripts of religious and non-religious texts were written in the Second Temple era — between the 200 BCE and 200 CE — were discovered by a Bedouin goat herder in 1947. The story goes that Muhammed Edh-Dhib was following a stray goat near the Dead Sea when he came across one of the 12 Qumran Caves, inside of which sit clay jars containing seven scrolls.

Since the initial discovery of the scrolls, intense efforts by archaeologists during the 1940s and ‘50s led to the discovery of hundreds of manuscripts from the Qumran Caves.

Written on leather and papyrus, the majority of the text is religious scripture and translation of scripture, as well as the Apocrypha — the most well-preserved of all the scrolls. The non-Biblical text include poetry, historical, and legal texts.

The manuscripts provide an important insight into Jewish religious life of the Second Temple era previously unknown.

The caves sitting in the Judean Desert provided a stable environment for the manuscripts, preserving them for more than 2,000 years. Human handling and ignorance of proper preservation techniques badly damaged some of the manuscripts in the last 65 years.

Now, the scrolls are fiercely protected in a climate-controlled conservation laboratory and storage facility. To protect the manuscripts, they are displayed on a rotation: each scroll that spends three months on exhibition spends a year resting in the storage facility.

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Celeste Tholen Rosenlof


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