1QIsa, 1QS and 1QpHabShrine of the Book (Jerusalem, Israel)
4Q175, 4Q162 and 4Q109National Archaeological Museum of Jordan (Amman, Jordan)

Dead Sea Scrolls Facsimile Edition

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Discovered between 1946 and 1956 in caves at Wadi Qumran, a site located about two kilometers inland from the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, the Dead Sea Scrolls are a treasure of 981 different texts datable between 130 BCE and 75 CE. Lost for 2000 years, when the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, the discovery was defined the most important archaeological find of the twentieth century. The majority of the scrolls is written in Hebrew, some in Aramaic, and a few in Greek.

The Dead Sea scrolls are of extraordinary historical, linguistic and religious significance as they are the third oldest manuscripts with texts of the Hebrew Bible. They also contain extra-biblical writings, which testify diverse religious practices in the Second Temple Judaism. Made of leather or parchment of different colors ranging from light brown to yellow, the finest scrolls present a polished parchment of white color. The scrolls impressively resisted time thanks to the ancient people who sealed some of them in clay jars, often wrapped in linen covers.

The Dead Sea Scrolls: An Extraordinary Discovery

Professor Eleazar Sukenik first recognized the antiquity of the first seven scrolls that were found. Looking at the scrolls for the first time, Professor Sukenik was thrilled to realize that they contained a text that had not been read for more than two thousand years.

Other four scrolls were brought to the Syrian Orthodox Christian Church and eventually to the United States, where they were displayed in 1949. The Government of Israel purchased these scrolls now preserved in the Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem.

Between 1949 and 1962, new caves near Qumran were found with thousands of additional scroll fragments. Because of the richness of the discovery, it has taken 60 years to publish the collection. While scholars debates over the contents of the scrolls, their antique age has been generally accepted. It is remarkable that the text of the majority of these Hebrew manuscripts has hardly changed in two thousand years.

The Great Isaiah Scroll, the Manual of Discipline and the Habakkuk Commentary

The Great Isaiah Scroll, 1QIsa, is the only complete biblical text among the Dead Sea Scrolls. It was found in Cave One at Qumran and dates to 120 BCE. The book of Isaiah is remarkable for the fact that it is transmitted in a version that hardly changed over the centuries.

The Scroll 1QS is known as the Manual of Discipline or the Rule of the Community and it is an extraordinary document for religious and social reasons because it contains the rules of conduct for the Qumranites. These were additional rules to the commandments contained in the Pentateuch.

They regulated the personal relationships in a Jewish community that separated itself from the other sects of Judaism in Jerusalem. The Habakkuk Commentary, 1QpHab, presents an interpretation of the biblical text with references to facts of the time of the writer. 

We have 1 facsimile edition of the manuscript "Dead Sea Scrolls": The Dead Sea Scrolls facsimile edition, published by Facsimile Editions Ltd., 2007

The Dead Sea Scrolls

London: Facsimile Editions Ltd., 2007

  • Limited Edition: 49 copies
  • This facsimile is not complete.

On the 8th November 2006 Facsimile Editions received an email from Dr Weston Fields, Director of the Dead Sea Scrolls Foundation in Jerusalem, asking if they would be willing to advise on the production of facsimiles of three of the most important scrolls found in 1947 in a cave on the shores of the Dead Sea. The Great Isaiah Scroll 1QIsa, the Manual of Discipline 1QS and the Habakkuk Commentary 1QpHab were some of the first and most complete scrolls to be found among the thousands of fragments in caves near Qumran and elsewhere along the Dead Sea during the following two decades. Three days later Dr Fields arrived in London to explain the project. An exhibition centred on the Dead Sea Scrolls was to open in Seoul, South Korea, in just under a year’s time on 1st November 2007. The organisers had originally believed that the Israel Museum and the Israel Antiquities Authority would be willing to loan a few of their most treasured scrolls and fragments for this exhibition, but the negotiations were not successful. The Koreans were facing the prospect of an exhibition without any scrolls. Could Facsimile Editions help? Never known to turn down a challenge, Linda and Michael Falter readily offered their expertise and started researching the many new techniques and materials that would be needed to produce facsimile scrolls of such realism so as not to disappoint the anticipated two million visitors to the exhibition. It was vital to get it right, especially since the facsimiles would sit alongside original fragments from Jordan. The Isaiah scroll is approximately seven metres long and is made up of 17 parchment sheets, sewn end to end. The scroll’s edges are damaged, some of the sewing is missing and there are many hairline cracks and holes. The complex matter of reproducing material written some 2,100 years earlier was about to lead them on a fascinating adventure. Dr Fields explained that the scrolls had been photographed in 1948 on medium format film in Jerusalem soon after their discovery in 1948. John Trever, an accomplished photographer, and William Brownlee, both young American post-doctoral fellows at the American School of Oriental Research (today, the William F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research) had worked together setting up a ‘studio’ in the basement of the American School. This was particularly interesting as it meant that by using these photographs it would be possible to reproduce images of the Scrolls as they were found in 1947, without the wear, tear and damage that they had sustained in the seven years before their arrival in Israel in 1954. The original photographs are now owned by John Trever’s family and stored at the Ancient Biblical Manuscript Center in Claremont, California. Once permission had been received from John Trever’s son, James, the priceless photographs were carried by hand to Milan, Italy, where they were scanned and then immediately returned to the vault in the USA. Fortunately, every detail of the text was clearly apparent and better still, the original sewing was still discernable. Sadly, most of the original stitches no longer exist today as the scrolls were moved frequently and handled and stored in less than ideal conditions in the early years after their discovery. Once scanned the painstaking work of colour separation, correction and printing started and a special paper was prepared to replicate closely the feel and texture of the scrolls’ parchment. Over the centuries, holes and blemishes have become apparent in the scrolls and the parchment, having reacted to the many changes in temperature and humidity, is no longer flat. Using computer-controlled lasers, the facsimile scrolls were cut to the precise outline of the originals. Even the smallest holes and hairline cracks were reproduced. Another specially developed process, used to reproduce the cockling found on millennia-old manuscripts, buckled the paper so authentically that it is hard to tell the facsimiles from an original manuscript. As the 1948 photographs show the scrolls’ stitches in perfect detail the Falters could not resist the challenge of copying them too. Each stitch is sewn by hand using a specially dyed linen thread, further enhancing the accuracy, authentic feel and appearance of the facsimiles. Finally, in November 2007, the work was completed and the scrolls presented to some very excited and relieved exhibitors in Seoul. The exhibition closed in June 2008. The edition has been produced in two parts. The first three sets produced were acquired for the exhibition in Seoul and one was subsequently purchased from the Koreans by the British Library in London (see letter). In the second part, 49 sets of three scrolls have been produced to the identical quality and specification for sale to libraries, museums and serious collectors. A certificate of authenticity signed by the Publishers and the Dead Sea Scrolls Foundation will accompany each set of three scrolls. The quality of the facsimiles of the first three Dead Sea Scrolls was such that Facsimile Editions was asked to produce facsimiles of some of Jordan's scroll fragment treasures housed at the National Archaeological Museum in Amman: Ecclesiastes (Qohelet) (4Q109), Pesher Isaiahb (4Q162) and Testimonia (4Q175). Based on photos taken by Bruce and Ken Zuckerman, they are made to the same standard as the Scrolls. The level of realism achieved is truly remarkable. The fragments are contained in a folder within the box and can safely be displayed in the specially-made three layer museum quality Lucite frames which are cut to the exact outline of each fragment and then engraved with a brief description.

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