The Royal Ontario Museum will host a six-month long exhibit of the scrolls, operated in conjunction with the Israel Antiquities Authority. The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of about 900 manuscripts, dating to 70 AD. The caves in which the scrolls were found were located near Qumran (see map below), in what is now the Palestinian West Bank. From the piece in the Toronto Star:
This raises the question, should nations use these antiquities as instruments of foreign policy? Will the end result be more difficulty in holding international loans and travelling exhibitions?
Beginning in 1947, and for nearly a decade, experts from the Rockefeller Museum in East Jerusalem, the Jordanian Department of Antiquities, and the École biblique et archéologique française excavated the caves and salvaged the scrolls, only a few of which were found whole. The rest were scattered into thousands of fragments.
Written mainly in Hebrew, and partly in Aramaic and Greek, the scrolls include about 200 copies of portions of the Jewish Bible.
At first, the scrolls were housed in the Rockefeller Museum in East Jerusalem, which was under Jordanian control at the time.
After the 1967 Six Day War, however, Israel unilaterally absorbed the eastern sections of the city, an act most Western nations – including Canada – regard as illegal under international law. The Israelis removed the scrolls from East Jerusalem and took them to the western city, where they remain.
According to Shor at the Israel Antiquities Authority, portions of the scrolls frequently have been put on display in other countries – including the United States, Britain, Switzerland, Germany, and Australia – over the past 10 years or so.
View Larger Map