City of Qumran, Dead Sea Scrolls Focus of Archaeology Lecture at Lawrence University

Jodi Magness, professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina, presents “The Archaeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls” Monday, Feb. 13 in an Archaeological Institute of America lecture at Lawrence University.

The slide-illustrated presentation, at 7:30 p.m. in Lawrence’s Wriston Art Center auditorium, is free and open to the public and includes an informal reception with the speaker following the address.

Magness will discuss the archaeological connection between the Qumran site, which was excavated in the 1950s, and the famous scrolls. Hailed by some as the greatest manuscript discovery of modern times, the ancient parchment scrolls were found in 1947 by a young Bedoin goat herder in a jar in a cave along the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, 13 miles east of Jerusalem. Scholars eventually discovered more than 800 scrolls among 11 different caves in the area.

The scrolls are believed to have been written between 200 B.C. and 68 A.D. and contain biblical as well as non-biblical materials. With the exception of the book of Esther, parts of all the books of the Old Testament have been found among the scroll fragments.

Scholars estimate that Qumran may have been occupied as early as the 8th century B.C. and believe it served as the home for some of the Essenes, a Jewish sect that developed in the 2nd century B.C. Some scholars credit the Essenes with having a major influence on the development of Christianity.

Magness, the Kenan Distinguished Professor for Teaching Excellence in Early Judasism at North Carolina, has done extensive field research throughout Israel. She is the author of five books, including “The Archaeology of Qumran: and the Dead Sea Scrolls.”

She spent 11 years in the classics and art history department at Tufts University before joining the faculty at North Carolina. She earned her bachelor’s degree in archaeology and history at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and her Ph.D. in classical archaeology at the University of Pennsylvania.