It’s pretty much accepted that the majority of visitors to the Dead Sea go for the therapeutic benefits provided by the Dead Sea minerals. The salty water and mud are celebrated for their capacity to provide relaxation, relief of soreness and stiffness, and solutions for all kinds of skin problems. But there are other attractions in the area, one of them being Qumran, the site of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
The Qumran Caves
Now basically a ruins, the Qumran settlement is situated on the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea in an area where the landscape is terraced by soft stone formations. It is in these terraces that both natural and carved caves can be found. Artifacts found in the caves have shown that some of them were actually inhabited, while others appear to have been used for storage.
The first discovery of what came to be known as the Dead Sea Scrolls occurred in 1947, when a Bedouin shepherd allegedly wandered into one of the caves in search of a lost goat. Over the next decade, more fragments of the documents were discovered in a total of eleven separate caves, most of them protected inside stone jars. Evidently, the residents had hidden the sacred writings to protect them from invading Roman soldiers.
Significance of the Scrolls
The discovery of the scrolls is one of the most significant archaeological events in history, and scholars have been debating their relevance ever since they were first brought to light. Nearly every book of the Old Testament is represented in the Dead Sea Scrolls, as well as some documents that include the differing beliefs of various Jewish sects.
Now that it is also home to the world’s oldest known surviving religious artifacts, the Dead Sea area has become an attraction to religious history buffs in addition to the people who visit for the relaxation, health, and beauty benefits.