Biblical Archaeology Review 19:1, January/February 1993

Recollections from 40 Years Ago: More Scrolls Lie Buried

By Baruch Safrai

With so much public attention lately focused on the Dead Sea Scrolls, the question is frequently asked, with increasing insistence: Are there more scrolls—either undiscovered in the caves or in the hands of the Bedouin or of those who acquired them from the Bedouin? This article will suggest that the answer is yes on both counts.

My story begins exactly 40 years ago—in 1953—when I, an Israeli kibbutznik imbued with a love of my people’s past, joined an archaeological team led by the late Yohanan Aharoni to explore some caves in the Judean Desert near the Dead Sea.

In 1947 Ta‘amireh Bedouin had discovered the first of the now-famous Dead Sea Scroll caves in the vicinity of the Wadi Qumran. Once the Bedouin realized the financial rewards that could be realized from scroll materials, many of them turned from shepherding to cave exploring. In 1951 the Bedouin again hit paydirt, so to speak. They found more scrolls and other documents, albeit all fragmentary, in the Wadi Murabba‘at, the wadi, or canyon, just south of the Wadi Qumran.

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