Thursday, April 15, 2021

Genetic Clues of the Dead Sea Scrolls


The Dead Sea Scrolls containing the earliest version of the Hebrew Bible has been analyzed for genetic testing. Slivers of the scroll were determined to be made of sheepskin and cow skin. Furthermore, it was concluded that more than 25,000 Dead Sea Scroll fragments were made from the same animal skins are a part of the same document. The Dead Sea Scrolls indicate religious developments across southern Israel around 2,000 years ago. Most of the scroll fragments were from between 1947 and the 1960s. These documents are traced back to the Qumran caves in which a small Jewish outlier group settled. It was hypothesized that the scrolls from the Qumran caves were written by the same people due to the same language and writing styles on each. The genetic testing of these particular scrolls supported the correlation. It was also determined that scrolls made of sheepskin were of a different origin than the two scrolls of cow skin. In further investigation, researchers DNA tested scrolls from Masada which were also comprised of sheep skin. It was determined that the sheepskin from the Masada scroll was from a different line of sheep, and was therefore produced by a separate group of people.  In the end, many biblical timelines and contexts can now be understood better through the utilization of Dead Sea Scroll DNA testing. 


Bower, B. (2020, July 08). The Dead Sea Scrolls contain genetic clues to their origins. Retrieved from 

S. Anava et al. Illuminating genetic mysteries of the Dead Sea ScrollsCell. Published June 2, 2020. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2020.04.046.

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