Reading the En-Gedi Scroll


The En-Gedi scroll is a unique archaeological discovery in many ways. Unearthed in 1970, this ancient scroll was the first to be found in a synagogue excavation. In addition, it was also the first to be found still in an ark. It’s also extremely fragile, being completely charred in a fire 1,500 years ago.

Dr. Sefi Porath, the discoverer of the scroll, describes the excavation:

Ein Gedi was a Jewish village in the Byzantine period (fourth–seventh century CE) and had a synagogue with an exquisite mosaic floor and a Holy Ark. The settlement was completely burnt to the ground, and none of its inhabitants ever returned to reside there again, or to pick through the ruins in order to salvage valuable property. In the archaeological excavations of the burnt synagogue, we found in addition to the charred scroll fragments, a bronze seven-branched candelabrum (menorah), the community’s money box containing c. 3,500 coins, glass and ceramic oil lamps, and vessels that held perfume. We have no information regarding the cause of the fire…

The Israel Antiquities Authority recently announced that the scroll is one of the oldest copies of the books of Moses (the Dead Sea Scrolls are older). It’s the first chapter of Leviticus, dating to the late sixth century A.D. How were they able to read it? Watch the video to learn the fascinating technology used to “unwrap” and read the En-Gedi scroll.




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