Feb
27

Today in Smithsonian History: February 27, 1965

Visitors line up along Constitution Avenue to see the "Dead Sea Scrolls" exhibit, part of the National Collection of Fine Arts, now the Smithsonian American Art Museum, in the foyer of the National Museum of Natural History, March 1965.

Visitors line up along Constitution Avenue to see the “Dead Sea Scrolls” exhibit, part of the National Collection of Fine Arts, now the Smithsonian American Art Museum, in the foyer of the National Museum of Natural History, March 1965. From the book “The National Museum of Natural History: 75 Years in the Natural History Building,” by Ellis Yochelson, 1985.

The National Collection of Fine Arts, now the Smithsonian American Art Museum, opens an exhibition of the Dead Sea Scrolls from Jordan in the Foyer Gallery of the Natural History building. The exhibition, sponsored by the government of Jordan, was on display from Feb. 27 to March 21 and drew 209,643 visitors. The scrolls then moved to the University of Pennsylvania Museum in  Philadelphia as part of a Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service exhibit. Negotiations for the loan of the scrolls and accompanying photos from Jordan began in 1960.

The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of some 981 different texts discovered between 1946 and 1956 in 11 caves in the immediate vicinity of the ancient settlement at Khirbet Qumran in the West Bank about two kilometers from the northwest shore of the Dead Sea.

The consensus is that the Qumran Caves Scrolls date from the last three centuries BCE and the first century CE. The texts are of great historical, religious, and linguistic significance because they include the third oldest known surviving manuscripts of works later included in the Hebrew Bible canon.

A view of the Dead Sea from a cave at Qumran in which some of the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. (Eric Matson, Matson Photo Service,- Library of Congress)

A view of the Dead Sea from a cave at Qumran in which some of the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. (Eric Matson, Matson Photo Service,- Library of Congress)

Photographic reproduction of the Great Isaiah Scroll, the best preserved of the biblical scrolls found at Qumran. It contains the entire Book of Isaiah in Hebrew, apart from some small damaged parts. This manuscript was probably written by a scribe of the Jewish sect of the Essenes around the second century BC. It is therefore over a 1000 years older than the oldest Masoretic manuscripts.

Photographic reproduction of the Great Isaiah Scroll, the best preserved of the biblical scrolls found at Qumran. It contains the entire Book of Isaiah in Hebrew, apart from some small damaged parts. This manuscript was probably written by a scribe of the Jewish sect of the Essenes around the second century BC. It is therefore over a 1000 years older than the oldest Masoretic manuscripts. (Photos by Ardon Bar Hama)2016


Posted: 27 February 2017
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