Qumran Cave 4

Qumran Cave 4, viewed from the northeast. Photograph by Todd Bolen. 

Qumran is located in the West Bank, near the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea. The site has a long history of settlement but is best known as the location of the parchment scrolls and fragments called the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were discovered in a series of caves between 1947 and 1956. The scrolls include parts of almost all of the books of the Hebrew Bible, along with many other ancient writings. Some scholars propose that the site was a settlement of a Jewish sect called the Essenes, mentioned by some ancient historians. Cave 4 contained the most significant finds, numbering several hundred scrolls.

Qumran Cave 4, view from the northeast.

An archaeological site on the western shore of the Dead Sea, in modern Israel, where a small group of Jews lived in the last centuries B.C.E. The site was destroyed by the Romans around 70 C.E. The Dead Sea Scrolls were found in caves near the site and are believed by most scholars to have belonged to the people living at Qumran.

A collection of Jewish texts (biblical, apocryphal, and sectarian) from around the time of Christ that were preserved near the Dead Sea and rediscovered in the 20th century.

An ascetic sect of early Judaism whose adherents probably included the inhabitants of Qumran (the site of the Dead Sea Scrolls).

A West Semitic language, in which most of the Hebrew Bible is written except for parts of Daniel and Ezra. Hebrew is regarded as the spoken language of ancient Israel but is largely replaced by Aramaic in the Persian period.

A religious subgroup.

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