The Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit at The Franklin

July 5, 2012 7:10:40 AM PDT
In a time when the world has so many experts, you'd expect that a great discovery would come from someone who's spent decades learning and researching. But in the 1940's, a shepherd boy in the Holy Land wandered into a cave after a lost sheep and ended up setting the world of archaeology and religion on its ear.

Inside that cave at Qumran, the boy found dozens of clay jars. Inside, scientists found scrolls containing what we call the Old Testament.

The Dead Sea Scrolls were centuries older than the best manuscripts previously available, authenticating writings sacred to Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

The scrolls and the culture surrounding them are the subject of a special limited-time exhibit now at the Franklin Institute. You'll learn how, in ancient times, important documents were rolled up and sealed in pottery for preservation.

The cave at Qumran sits far below sea level in a region known for being arid. Yet in this particular cave, the Dead Sea Scrolls were protected from heat and light they survived for well over two thousand years, undisturbed until today's scientists could analyze and authenticate them.

The scrolls authenticate the accuracy of manuscripts foundational to three great faiths. Through video, lectures and artifacts, you'll learn the story of the scrolls and the culture of the region where they were stored. You'll see actual scrolls, and a three-foot section of Jerusalem's Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall. You may leave a prayer request in keeping with Jewish tradition.

These prayers are entrusted to a rabbi who regularly sends them to the actual wall in Jerusalem. Even people who are especially religious will find the exhibit fascinating, because it teaches so much about the culture of the Middle East.

"The Dead Sea Scrolls" is an extra-cost, time-ticketed exhibit. You may buy tickets at the box office when you visit the Franklin Institute, or you may go online and buy tickets in advance. These tickets entitle you to visit the rest of the museum at no additional charge.

For information, or to buy tickets, visit the Franklin Institute or phone the at 215-448-1200.