A To-Do List for Indiana Jones


The Dead Sea Scrolls are the most prominent historical record of Jewish life in the Second Temple period, from roughly 500 BCE to 70 CE. The first scrolls were found in 1947 by a young Bedouin shepherd.

Of the 15 scrolls, only one was not written on parchment. The Copper Scroll, as it’s known, was written on a thin, paperlike substance that is a mix of copper and tin. And unlike the other Dead Sea Scrolls, which mostly record stories or prayers, the Copper Scroll is a list of 64 different hiding places for various treasures made of gold or silver. It begins: “In the ruin of the valley of Acor, under the steps leading to the East, forty long cubits: a chest of silver and its vessels with a weight of seventeen talents.”

Archaeologists and historians have theorized that the treasures listed might have belonged to the ancient Jewish community in Qumran, the place where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. Others believe that they are the treasures of the Second Temple, which was ransacked around the time of the Copper Scroll’s writing. Many archaeologists and fortune-hunters have attempted to follow the list’s instructions. To date, however, no one has publicly reported finding any of the treasures.

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