Collection of ancient scrolls (rolls of writing) and fragments of scrolls found 1947–56 in caves on the W side of the Jordan, at Qumran. They include copies of Old Testament books a thousand years older than those previously known to be extant. The documents date mainly from about 150 BC–AD 68, when the monastic community that owned them, the Essenes, was destroyed by the Romans because of its support for a revolt against their rule.
The total of 800 manuscripts, containing all the books of the Old Testament except Esther, were publicly available for the first time 1986. Before this, only half the scrolls were published and only 15 scholars had access to them.
The caves were located 12 km/7 mi S of Jericho and 2 km/l mi from the N end of the Dead Sea.
A collection of written scrolls (containing nearly all of the Old Testament) found in a cave near the Dead Sea in the late 1940s.