This Dead Sea Scroll Could Lead to the Greatest Treasure in History

This Dead Sea Scroll Could Lead to the Greatest Treasure in History

Stephanie Schoppert - April 3, 2017

The Dead Sea Scrolls are famous for being ancient texts found in the Qumran Caves in 1946, 1956, and 2017. They are 981 different manuscripts that date from around 408 BCE to 318 CE. They are among the oldest religious texts ever discovered and they contain copies of texts from the Hebrew Scriptures and other religious texts. There are even sectarian manuscripts that offer details about the rules and beliefs of different groups within Judaism.

But there is one scroll that is unlike any of the others. Out of the 981 scrolls discovered, there is one scroll that has confounded scholars. The first thing that sets this scroll apart was that it was not discovered by the Bedouins, like most of the dead sea scrolls. This scroll was found by an archaeologist on March 14, 1952. It was the last of the 15 scrolls to be found in cave 3 at Qumran.

The second thing that sets the scroll apart is that it is made of two thin rolls of copper mixed with 1% tin. All of the other scrolls that were found in the caves were made of parchment or papyrus. In fact, the corroded metal was not even able to be unrolled. Instead the copper rolls were cut in to thin strips in order to be taken apart and read. The words written on the scroll were translated.

This Dead Sea Scroll Could Lead to the Greatest Treasure in History
The Copper Scroll 3Q15.

It was the text that was on the scroll that yet again separated it from anything else found in the caves. It was not a religious text or a literary work. It is not written in the same Hebrew with the same orthography or paleography as the other scrolls. It also had different dating than the other scrolls that have been found more recently.

The text on the scroll was a list of locations where various amounts of treasure could be found. 63 of the locations detail large quantities of gold and silver. Another location mentions priestly vestments. Some of the locations mention a variety of vessels including tithing vessels and three locations mention scrolls.

The lists tell of treasures weighing tons and over 4,600 talents of precious metals. Estimates today put the total haul of all 64 treasure locations at a value of over 1 billion dollars. Where did the treasure come from? Who did it belong to? Where is it now?