CBC Digital Archives CBC butterfly logo

CBC Archives has a new look: Please go to cbc.ca/archives to access the new site.

The page you are looking at will not be updated.

Discovering the Dead Sea scrolls

The Story

It's 1949, two years after the first set of Dead Sea scrolls were found in a cave in Western Palestine. And according to this radio report, there could be more. "There may be others remaining in the cave, for the excavations, so far, have been incomplete," explains Gerard Fay of the Manchester Guardian. The ancient scrolls have thrilled biblical scholars, says Fay, "and that excitement hasn't subsided even in two years. Probably it will continue until it's certain that no more manuscripts remain to be found."

Medium: Radio
Program: CBC Radio News
Broadcast Date: Oct. 21, 1949
Host: Bill Reid
Reporter: Gerard Fay
Duration: 2:25

Did You know?

• The discovery of the scrolls was extremely exciting for biblical scholars and historians because they contain the earliest written record of the bible's Old Testament. They also contain non-biblical writings on topics such as community rules, war rules and law. In a 1948 Globe and Mail article, archaeology professor Eliezer Sukenik of Hebrew University called it "probably one of the most important archaeological discoveries ever made in the Holy Land."

  • There were indeed other Dead Sea scrolls to be found after 1949. Additional texts continued to be discovered up until 1957. By 1957, there were more than 900 in total. They had been found in eleven different caves along the shore of the Dead Sea.


• The scrolls, written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek between 250 BC and 68 AD, had been hidden in the caves for more than 2,000 years.


• In 2008,Toronto's Royal Ontario Museum announced plans to host an exhibit of the Dead Sea scrolls from June 2009 until January 2010. Because of the fragile and valuable nature of the scrolls, the museum said only a few of the original texts would be displayed, alongside a full written translation of all the works, plus multi-media presentations that tell the story of the discovery. The ROM said it would also show the actual jars in which the texts were stored, as well as other artifacts from ancient Judea.





Other Religion & Spirituality more