Discover Copper Online

Fall 1997

Copper Clues to Golden Treasure

One of the 23 strips of copper into which the Copper Scroll was cut. It was too brittle to unroll.

One of the famous Dead Sea Scrolls found near Qumran in Israel is made of copper instead of more fragile animal skins. The scroll, now in the Citadel Museum in Amman, Jordan, is unique in another way: It contains no biblical passages or religious writings - only clues to a still undiscovered treasure.

The copper scroll was found in Cave 3 in 1952 by archaeologists, not the local Bedouin. For five years, scholars and experts tried to figure out how to decipher its contents - it was too brittle to unroll. Finally, they carefully cut it into 23 strips (see photo).

The treasure described in the scroll includes vast quantities of gold and silver plus coins and metal vessels. But whose treasure is it? Was it from the Temple in Jerusalem, hidden in 70 AD to prevent the Romans from taking it? Or did the treasure belong to a sect of Essenes who lived in Qumran? No one knows. For more details on the Scroll, visit the web site of the University of California.

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