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Of the eleven caves that yielded manuscripts, five were discovered by the Bedouins and six by archeologists.Some of the caves were particularly rich in material.
Early in 1949 the cave site was finally identified by the archeological authorities of Jordan. Lankester Harding, director of the Jordanian Antiquities Department, undertook to excavate Cave I with Père Roland de Vaux, a French Dominican priest who headed the École Biblique in Jerusalem.
Exploration of the cave, which lay one kilometer north of Wadi Qumran, yielded at least seventy fragments, including bits of the original seven scrolls.
Cave 3 preserved two oxidized rolls of beaten copper (the Copper Scroll), containing a lengthy roster of real or imaginary hidden treasures-a tantalizing enigma to this day. was particularly rich in material: 15,000 fragments from at least six hundred composite texts were found there.
The last manuscript cave discovered, Cave II, was located in 1956, providing extensive documents, including the Psalms Scroll, an Aramaic of Job, and the Temple Scroll, the longest (about twenty-nine feet) of the Qumran manuscripts.
The Temple Scroll was acquired by Yigael Yadin in 1967 and is now housed alongside the first seven scrolls in the Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
All the remaining manuscripts, sizable texts as well as minute fragments, are stored in the Rockefeller Museum building in Jerusalem, the premises of the Israel Antiquities Authority Père de Vaux gradually realized the need to identify a habitation site close to the caves.
Since 1947 the site of these discoveries-the Qumran region (the desert plain and the adjoining mountainous ridge) and the Qumran site have been subjected to countless probes; not a stone has remained unturned in the desert, not an aperture unprobed.
The Qumran settlement has been exhaustively excavated.
The excavations uncovered a complex of structures, 262 by 328 feet (80 by 100 meters), preserved to a considerable height.