Written by Ventzeslav Karavalchev for dveri.bg
In 1947, a Bedouin from the Taamira tribe walked around the Qumran hill, located on the western shore of the Dead Sea, looking for a lost goat from his herd. Since he did not find her, he assumed that she might have entered the cave on the hill. He went down the sheer cliff and decided to throw a stone at it, hoping that it would make the animal come out. However, instead of the noise of a frightened animal, the sound of broken pottery came from the cave, which caught his curiosity and made him enter the cave. There he found 45 clay vessels carefully arranged against the wall. Muhammad al-Dib’s disappointment must have been great when he removed from the jars only a few darkened, glued leather scrolls. Later, in the Bedouin camp, together with his fellows, they examined them carefully, but could not understand anything of the writing. After a few months, the Bedouins managed to sell their find for 250 dollars to the Archbishop of the Syrian Orthodox Church Athanasius (Monophysites). His attempts to read the scrolls are also unsuccessful. After a year, during his meeting with Dr. Trevor, he finds out what he actually acquired, as well as the price of this acquisition – the Israeli government buys the manuscripts for 1 million dollars…
This is how the greatest archaeological discovery of the 20th century was made – the Qumran manuscripts, also known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, were found. Over the course of several years, archaeologists discovered 11 caves in which they found over 900 handwritten documents. Documents found at Qumran are mostly written on leather, there are also a few on parchment, but one scroll is completely different from the rest. In 1952, at the bottom of the conditionally named cave number 3, a scroll made entirely of copper was discovered – (the scroll is composed of two separate copper pieces, parts). The Copper Scroll (3Q15 or 3QTreasure) does not fit into any of the other scroll categories. It contained no biblical text, was written in a language not found in any of the other scrolls, and reading it fired the imaginations of thousands of seekers of adventure and lost treasure around the world. Even the most exaggerated tales of the Wolf Lord’s legendary treasures pale in comparison to the contents of this scroll.
The 3Q15 Copper Scroll turns out to be a map listing the world’s greatest hidden treasure. It contains a list of 63 places where for hidden incredible treasures of gold and silver. Due to the specifics of the biblical units of measurement, it is difficult to determine the exact weight of the treasure, but it is probably about tons of precious metals, in monetary terms equal to at least three billion dollars, and in historical terms – priceless. But where did this treasure come from? King Solomon’s mythical legacy?
According to Stephen Pfan, one of the scientists involved in the reading of the manuscripts, it is an inventory of the hidden objects of the Jerusalem Temple before its final destruction: “This is an incredible historical testimony. To have a list of the temple treasures from the 1st century is a real miracle. We have nothing more eloquent than this scroll to tell us what was really there…”
According to him, the copper scroll was the work of the Zealots. This assumption fits perfectly into the historical setting from the beginning of the 1st century AD. in the Holy Land. Zealotism (Hebrew kanai, meaning “zeal for God”) became a political movement and led to the Great Revolt against Rome (AD 66-70). Josephus in his book “Jewish Antiquities” says that the Jewish sects were three – Pharisees, Sadducees and Essenes. The Zealots, known for their intransigence towards Rome, became the fourth such. They appear on the political scene almost immediately after Rome declares Judea a Roman province, defend to the last the Temple and its wealth from the encroachment of the Romans. Before their resistance was finally broken and the Zealots were massacred, they managed to hide a large part of this wealth. The copper scroll map was composed just before the destruction of the temple, according to Stephen Pfan. In it, some of the places with hidden treasure can easily be found: Jericho, the Achor valley – north or south of Jericho, Mount Gerizim, the cave by the fountain of the House of Hakkoz – possibly the site of the second Jerusalem temple, etc.
However, there are also coded places that are difficult to locate such as “Solomon’s Channel” where a large amount of silver coins are hidden, “Milham” where the garments of the high priest are hidden, possibly with the stones “Urim and Thummim” and all the others priceless attributes described in the Bible, (see in detail Exodus 28:2-43). In a place called Mattia, over 600 gold and silver sacred vessels from the Temple are hidden… The instructions in the copperplate manuscript bear a striking resemblance to story lines from Indiana Jones or Lara Croft movies. It speaks of caves, graves, aqueducts, reservoirs, tunnels, etc., which are meant to serve as landmarks, followed by directions for the number of steps to be taken in a certain direction in order to find the hidden part of the treasure. The places are so described that a person must necessarily have been a contemporary of the era in which the objects were hidden to be able to find them today. The description includes details unknown to anyone today. These are local names of localities, buildings, streets, landmarks, which were known in ancient times to a certain group of people, but today they do not give us any idea in which direction to look.
The very language in which the copper scroll was written is a great mystery. Some passages in it are written in a kind of Hebrew (resembling the language of the Mishnah) which itself was in use 800 years earlier than the age of the scroll. Things are made even more confusing by the presence of Greek letters in the text of the scroll, arranged in no logical order. The last few lines of the scroll add further emotion to the confusion. They speak of an even greater treasure “in a dry well at Kohlit”… but unfortunately an explanation of how and where to find the well, as well as directions for discovering the rest of the treasures, is contained in a copy of the copper a scroll. This means that somewhere, perhaps in Kohlit, there is also a second copper scroll hidden, which is a supplement and a key to finding the objects described in the first. Joel Rosenberg believes the second scroll can still be found. According to him, it would also lead to the discovery of the “Ark of the Covenant”, which disappeared without a trace in 621 BC when Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem. Interestingly, the “Ark of the Covenant” is missing from the list of items that the Babylonian king took out of Jerusalem. Rosenberg refers to ancient Hebrew texts that indicate the fact that the temple treasures from the first Jerusalem temple and the “Ark of the Covenant” were hidden by the priests before the Babylonian invasion. Clues to where they were hidden were left on a copper tablet, the problem is that no one has any idea where this second tablet might be.
Steven Pfan, however, believes that a large part of the treasure was found and taken away by the Romans. They forced the secret of the copper scroll to be revealed to them, and as proof of this point of his, Pphanes cites the existence of a letter in which the emperor Titus states that the Coliseum at Rome was built with the spoils of Judea. “If any part of the treasure still exists, it will be small pieces left undiscovered by the Romans…”. Bearing in mind, however, the example of the last stronghold of the Zealots, Masada, and the heroic death of its defenders, we could hardly agree with Stephen Pfan’s hypothesis that by the power of the sword the Romans forced the Jews to reveal to them the places where the treasures were hidden. Yes, perhaps some portion, sufficient to build the magnificent edifice of the Colosseum, fell into Roman hands, but the great treasure is probably still waiting for its Indiana Jones.
The article uses materials from the books: “Deciphering the Dead sea scrolls”, “The Bible and The Dead sea scrolls”, “Wealth in The Dead sea scrolls and in The Qumran community”, “Historical perspective: From the Hasmoneans to Bar Kokhba in the light of The Dead sea scrolls”, “The Dead sea scrolls and the personages of earliest Christianity”, Biblical Archeology Review, from the CBN page, etc.