is "Cave # 4" where several clay containers
of scrolls were found.
This discovery, around the time Israel became a nation, was the most important and spectacular discovery in a long time. This find jumped back 1000 years from the latest Biblical texts that had been found up to that point. This find was of scriptures that had been copied 300 years AD. Questions of authenticity were now erased as for example the complete book of Isaiah was found in one of the caves, completely intact and as we have it in our Bibles today. That is so reassuring is it not?
How was it that these texts were found in this remote wilderness? Our guide told us the interesting story. It was so interesting that it all began with some Bedouin shepherds looking for their lost goats. So innocent yet profound.
Not finding their goats they began checking everywhere. Seeing a hole in the ground, thinking they might be in there, they threw pebbles into the cavern. Upon hearing a strange sound, like breaking pottery, they were confused. Climbing down into the cave, they discovered pots filled with ancient scrolls of writing. The thought was that these could be good for making a few shekels at the market, so brought some home to see if the rest of the Bedouin group felt the same. They did!
That was how, slowly, the archeological world became aware that someone had made some kind of an amazing find. It's quite a long and involved story, but they finally followed up on these amazing ancient writings seen in the market, discovered these shepherds and had them show them where they came from. And the rest is history! Amazing.
In the end some 900 valuable fragments were found continuing to confirm that the Bible we are reading to today is authentic. Wow.
Besides that, there was a community of Essenes living there. A Jewish group who broke away from Judaism and lived a more extreme aesthetic life. This was a community of about 200 who were also destroyed by the Romans during the 70AD period when they destroyed the temple.
Below is an illustration of the village and community they created during that time.