The Lost Treasure of the Dead Sea Copper Scroll

The Lost Treasure of the Dead Sea Copper Scroll

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The Copper Scroll is part of the extraordinary cache of 1st Century documents first discovered in caves at Qumran, popularly known as the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Copper Scroll, however, is very different from the other documents in the Qumran library. In fact, it is so anomalous among the Dead Sea Scrolls – its author, script, style, language, genre, content, and medium all differ to the other scrolls – that scholars believe it must have been placed in the cave at a different time to the rest of the ancient documents . As Professor Richard Freund stated, the copper scroll is "probably the most unique, the most important, and the least understood."

While most of the Dead Sea Scrolls were found by Bedouins, the Copper Scroll, which is now on display at the Jordan Museum in Amman, was discovered by an archaeologist. It was found on March 14, 1952 at the back of Cave 3 at Qumran. It was the last of 15 scrolls discovered in the cave, and is thus referred to as 3Q15. While the other scrolls were written on parchment or papyrus, this scroll was written on metal: copper mixed with about 1 percent tin.

The corroded metal could not be unrolled by conventional means, so in 1955, the scroll was cut into 23 strips and then pieced back together. Its’ language appeared different from the others – the Hebrew was closer to the language of the Mishnah than to the literary Hebrew of the remaining Dead Sea Scrolls. John Marco Allegro, who had supervised the opening of the scroll, transcribed its contents immediately. It then became clear that there was something very unique about its content. Unlike the other scrolls, which were literary works, the copper scroll contained a list.

The copper scroll was cut into strips and then pieced back together. Image: Stan Deyo

Copper Scroll Contents

It was no ordinary list, rather it contained directions to 64 locations where staggering quantities of treasure could be found. Sixty-three of the locations refer to treasures of gold and silver , which have been estimated in the tonnes. Tithing vessels are also listed among the entries, along with other vessels, and three locations featured scrolls. One entry apparently mentions priestly vestments. In total, over 4,600 talents of precious metal are listed on the scroll, making the total haul worth in excess of a billion dollars.

“Forty two talents lie under the stairs in the salt pit ... Sixty five bars of gold lie on the third terrace in the cave of the old Washers House ... Seventy talents of silver are enclosed in wooden vessels that are in the cistern of a burial chamber in Matia's courtyard. Fifteen cubits from the front of the eastern gates, lies a cistern. The ten talents lie in the canal of the cistern ... Six silver bars are located at the sharp edge of the rock which is under the eastern wall in the cistern. The cistern's entrance is under the large paving stone threshold. Dig down four cubits in the northern corner of the pool that is east of Kohlit. There will be twenty two talents of silver coins.” (DSS 3Q15, col. II, translation by Hack and Carey.)

The treasure of the scroll has been assumed to be treasure of the Jewish Temple. Some scholars have claimed it belonged to the First Temple , destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, in 586 BC. However, the scroll has been dated to between 25 AD and 100 AD which suggests that this hypothesis is unlikely.

Other experts have suggested that the treasure could be that of the Second Temple . However, historical records suggest that the main treasure of the Temple was still in the building when it fell to the Romans. It does not rule out this possibility though – a significant portion of the treasures may have been taken away and hidden before the Romans arrived .

  • Earliest Known Inscription of the Word ‘Jerusalem’ Discovered at Ancient City’s Entrance
  • The First Temple: Crowning Achievement of King Solomon and Home of the Legendary Ark of the Covenant
  • Ten incredible texts from our ancient past

Can the Copper Scroll Treasure Be Found?

There are many though who are not so concerned about where it came from, but much more interested in where it is now. The copper scroll has led to one of the biggest treasure hunts in history, with numerous expeditions setting out to find the valuable hoard.

However, finding the treasure is no easy feat. The locations are written as if the reader would have an intimate knowledge of the obscure references. For example, consider column two, verses 1-3:

"In the salt pit that is under the steps: forty-one talents of silver. In the cave of the old washer's chamber, on the third terrace: sixty-five ingots of gold."

Without a starting point, such directions are meaningless. Furthermore, the treasure may already have been looted by the Romans two thousand years ago and may now be long gone. But this hasn’t stopped the enthusiasts.

One of the most extensive treasure hunts took place in 1962, led by John Allegro. By following some of the places listed in the scroll, the team excavated many potential burial places for the treasure. However, they eventually returned empty handed, and despite being available for several decades, the copper scroll has not yielded a single material find.

A more recent hopeful has interpreted a key purpose of the scroll as describing the whereabouts of the ‘Lost Temple’ utensils, rather than treasures of gold and silver. Jim Barfield used triangulation techniques using the information provided in the scroll and believes he has found some of the locations in the area surrounding Qumran. According to a Breaking Irsael News report concerning Barfield’s investigation, “In 2007, he went to Qumran and actually found those locations. In one case, the scroll described steps, 40 cubits long, heading east. Barfield did indeed find stairs conforming to the description. He also discovered the remains of a pool, precisely 40 cubits long, exactly where the scroll said it would be. But lacking government permission, he could go no further.”

Considering the political situation in the region, it is not surprising the Israelis are careful in who they allow to search for what within their territory. With the chance of permission to do any serious excavation or investigation being granted seeming way off, the findings of this investigation, along with any other serious attempts to follow up on interpretations of the scroll, will for now be thwarted.

Nevertheless, to anyone who has a little bit of the Indiana Jones spirit inside them, it remains a fascinating and tantalising artifact, and will no doubt continue to tempt the imaginations of scholars and the public alike for centuries to come.

The Copper Scroll: One of the Most Mysterious Manuscripts of the Dead Sea Scrolls

Qumran Cave 4 (one of the caves the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered)

Between the years 1947 and 1954, in 11 caves on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, a group of 930 ancient texts, dating back to 250 BC to 50 AD, were discovered. They amazed the world. Biblical texts, along with other sectarian and nonsectarian Jewish works were brought to light. They included Biblical books and other works a thousand years older than any other copies known to the world. They are known as the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The initial find of seven scrolls was made by a Bedouin shepherd in the spring of 1947. These scrolls were found in earthenware jars inside a mountainside cave near the Dead Sea. The story goes he was looking for one of his goats which strayed off path. What he discovered was not only his goat, but a cave holding 7 scrolls two of which are the oldest copies we have today of the Biblical book of Isaiah.

Once knowledge of this find spread, the area was excitedly searched for other caves holding scrolls and ancient artifacts. Over a period of around seven years, around 230 biblical manuscripts and 700 documents concerning Jewish life were discovered. Although many were fragmentary, they were still one of the most historical finds of the time.

One of the most mysterious texts retrieved from within the caves is known as the Copper Scroll. It was found in cave 3 in 1952, and as its name implies, the scroll was made up of sheets of copper. The scroll was found in two pieces and badly corroded. It remained unable to be unrolled and read until it was sent to the laboratory of Professor H. Wright Baker of Manchester University College of Technology in England in 1956. Here it was carefully cut into sections, so the text of the copper scroll could be read for the first time since it was hidden away.

Section of the Copper Scroll

What was written was even more mysterious than the scroll’s utilization of copper the only scroll of the 930 to have been on copper. The text of the scroll listed 64 places to find hidden treasure. Not just a small amount of treasure, but of huge significance. In modern terms, the secreted treasures of the Copper Scroll total approximately to 26 tons of gold and 65 tons of silver. A tremendous amount.

One of the first two questions to ask is, ‘Is the treasure real?’ and ‘Are the treasures still hidden?’

Most scholars tend to lean towards the idea that the treasure is real for the effort of incising the text on copper is extremely tedious. The incentive for a person to do such, for purely ‘fun’ or ‘fictional purpose’ during this time is difficult to imagine. For this reason, alone, it is believed to be real.

The next question remains unanswered. The text of the Copper Scroll listing the locations of the hidden treasures are coded and can’t be easily determined. Many have tried to follow the instructions of the Copper Scroll to find the treasure, or at least confirm the locations existed, but to no success.

Examples of secreted locations are as follows:

“Sixty five bars of gold lie on the third terrace in the cave of the old Washers House”

“Forty two talents lie under the stairs in the salt pit”

“Enter into the hole of the waterproofed reservoir of Manos, descend to the left, forty talents of silver lie three cubits form the bottom”

The last location on the list states that another ‘scroll’, like the Copper Scroll exists.

“A copy of this inventory list, its explanation and the measurements and details of every hidden item are in the dry underground cavity that is in the smooth rock north of Kohlit. Its opening is towards the north with the tombs at its mouth”

This is not known to have ever been found. Is it made of copper as well? No one knows.

Although many have tried, searchers have been unable to clearly identify any of the locations.

It is believed the Dead Sea Scrolls were placed in the caves shortly before the Romans invaded the region around the year 70 AD, and those who hid the scrolls were planning to return, but never did.

Some believe the Copper Scroll lists treasures from the Jerusalem Temple which were to be used later to rebuild the Temple. It has been suggested, Temple officials hid the treasures before destruction and invasion, created the list (evidently two of them), and secreted them away. One hidden in cave 3 and the other ‘in the smooth rock north of Kohlit’.

While the area surrounding the caves, and further beyond, have been searched, none of the treasure as described in the Copper Scroll have been found or have ever been recorded to have been found.

It should be said the task is complex. There is a possibility the treasures were scattered and hidden miles away from where Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. In one of the descriptions, the location Mount Gerizin is provided. Although not exactly the same, there is a Mount Gerizim which was known and is about 40 miles north of Jerusalem. Quite a distance.

The ambiguous nature of the text, possible vast area it was hidden, and passage of time, leaves discovery difficult.

The Copper Scroll, and the treasures it lists, could remain a mystery for quite a long time more. However, the challenge to solve the mysteries of the Scroll doesn’t stop many from doing research, in hopes of coming across a small detail that could cast open all that was hidden. Time will tell.

The Treasure of the Copper Scroll

John Marco Allegro was a scholar who challenged orthodox views of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Bible and the history of religion, with books that attracted popular attention and scholarly derision.

After service in the Royal Navy during World War II, Allegro started to train for the Methodist ministry but transferred to a degree in Oriental Studies at the University of Manchester. In 1953 he was invit John Marco Allegro was a scholar who challenged orthodox views of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Bible and the history of religion, with books that attracted popular attention and scholarly derision.

After service in the Royal Navy during World War II, Allegro started to train for the Methodist ministry but transferred to a degree in Oriental Studies at the University of Manchester. In 1953 he was invited to become the first British representative on the international team working on the recently discovered Dead Sea Scrolls in Jordan. The following year he was appointed assistant lecturer in Comparative Semitic Philology at Manchester, and held a succession of lectureships there until he resigned in 1970 to become a full-time writer. In 1961 he was made Honorary Adviser on the Dead Sea Scrolls to the Jordanian government.

Allegro's thirteen books include The Dead Sea Scrolls (1956), The Treasure of the Copper Scroll (1960), The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross (1970) and The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Christian Myth (1979) as well as Discoveries in the Judaean Desert of Jordan vol. V (1968) and articles in academic journals such as the Journal of Biblical Literature, Palestine Exploration Quarterly and Journal of Semitic Studies, and in the popular press. . more

The Mystery of the Copper Scroll

JERUSALEM, Israel - In 1947, a Bedouin shepherd wandered the hills of Qumran in search of a missing sheep.

He threw a stone into a cave, hoping to drive the lost animal outside. Instead, the sound of shattered pottery drew the shepherd inside the cave.

There he stumbled on the greatest archaeological find of the 20th century: the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The Copper Scroll

In the years that followed, archaeologists found eleven caves and more than 900 documents here at Qumran. But one scroll was different from all the rest.

Instead of leather or parchment, it was made entirely of copper, and it could be the greatest treasure map in history.

The Copper Scroll describes a hidden cache of gold and silver buried in more than 60 locations throughout Israel.

The monetary value is close to $3 billion, but the historical value - is priceless.

The only place in ancient Israel with that much wealth was the Jewish Temple.

Stephen Pfann is one of the editors of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

"This is a tremendous witness to history. To actually have a list of treasures from the temple itself from the first century is just amazing. We have nothing better than the Copper Scroll now for telling us what was really there," Pfann, one of the editors of the Dead Sea Scrolls said.

Pfann took CBN News' Chris Mitchell up to cave number 3 at Qumra, where the Copper Scroll was hidden for nearly 2,000 years.

"You can actually see the place where the Copper Scroll was found," Pfann said.

The Purpose of the Scroll

"Well, the copper scroll had to be written just immediately before the destruction of the temple," Pfann explained.

"It actually fits the glove perfectly for these people known as the Zealots, who were the priestly group, who were holding down the temple, who were keeping it from the Romans in the best way possible. Before they were massacred, they left things behind in caves here in Qumran," he said

Some of their hiding places are easy to find on a modern map like Jericho, the Valley of Achor, and Mount Gerizim.

Others are more cryptic like "Solomon's Canal," which contains a stash of silver coins, a well in Milham where garments for the high priest were hidden, or Matia's Courtyard, where more than 600 gold and silver temple vessels were buried.

"The instruction on the scroll is like a kids' treasure map in a way They're talking about caves, they're talking about tombs, they're talking about aqueducts and pools that were known to them at the time - probably with aliases of names applied to these places so that only those people who are part of the inner circle would know where to go, how many steps to go away and where to find the temple treasure that was buried in that spot." Pfann said.

The scroll's language is a mystery in itself.

Some passages use a style of Hebrew that's 800 years older than the scroll itself. Adding to the puzzle is a series of random Greek letters.

Pfann said, "It kind of freezes in time the language to around 70 AD to what the Hebrew language looked like among the common people of that time.

The Fate of the Lost Treasure

Pfann says anyone looking for it today is about 2,000 years too late.

"In my mind, most if not all of these were actually found by the Romans under the point of the sword And we do know that Titus used the booty to build the Colosseum in Rome. It says so on the Colosseum. You can actually see the impression of the letters, 'this was built with the booty,'" Pfann said.

"If there's any treasure left, there would have been small parts that might not have been found that still lie out there ready for people to find today. We don't know," he said.

The scroll's last line hints at an even greater treasure, "In a dry well at Kohlit a copy of this document with its explanation and an inventory of each and every thing."

"What's interesting is that there were actually two treasure maps that were made," Pfann said.

"Line 64 of the copper scroll is the most fascinating of all - hard to decode but quite compelling," said author Joel Rosenberg.

The Discovery of all Discoveries

Rosenberg hit the New York Times bestseller list with his novel on the Copper Scroll.

He believes the second scroll is still out there and it could be the key to the greatest archaeological prize in history.

"What if finding the treasures of the Copper Scroll did in fact lead to the Ark of the Covenant being found?" he asked.

Rosenberg may be on to something.

Ancient Jewish writings say the ark and other first temple treasures were hidden by priests before the invasion of the Babylonians.

Their locations were inscribed on a tablet of copper.

Rosenberg said, "The Key Scroll has never been found, nobody has any idea where it is."

"What would be most dramatic is if in fact the treasures that are described by the Copper Scroll -and perhaps revealed more fully in the Key Scroll - are in fact from the second temple. Finding them would in fact be the most dramatic archeological discovery of all time."

*Originally aired March 31, 2008.

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Someone Found a Buried Treasure Hidden in the Rocky Mountains

Forrest Fenn, a New Mexico art collector, created a treasure hunt in 2010. Over the weekend, he said, someone found the chest he had buried with gold nuggets, coins, gems and artifacts.

After 10 years, a chase for hidden treasure in the Rocky Mountains has come to an end.

Forrest Fenn, a New Mexico art collector who created the treasure hunt, announced over the weekend that someone had found the bronze chest that he had buried in the mountains, filled with gold nuggets, coins, sapphires, diamonds, pre-Columbian artifacts and other items. He has estimated the hoard is worth $2 million.

“It was under a canopy of stars in the lush, forested vegetation of the Rocky Mountains and had not moved from the spot where I hid it more than 10 years ago,” Mr. Fenn, 89, said on his website. He did not elaborate on the exact location.

“I do not know the person who found it, but the poem in my book led him to the precise spot,” said Mr. Fenn, who lives in Santa Fe, N.M.

A man who did not want to be named found the chest a few days ago, Mr. Fenn told a local newspaper, The Santa Fe New Mexican. Mr. Fenn said that the chest’s discovery was confirmed through a photograph the man had sent him. He had previously told the newspaper that the bronze chest alone weighed 20 pounds, and its contents another 22.

Mr. Fenn, a former Air Force fighter pilot who runs a gallery in Santa Fe, hatched the idea for the hunt decades ago, after he learned he had kidney cancer. He had planned to have his remains interred with the riches, but when he recovered from the disease, he buried the box to give families a reason to “get off their couches,” he said in 2016.

He announced the quest to the world in a self-published 2010 memoir, “The Thrill of the Chase,” and provided clues to the location in 24 cryptic verses of a poem. He has said that the treasure was hidden in the Rockies at 5,000 feet above sea level, hints that have sometimes led hunters into dangerous and remote stretches of wilderness. “Begin it where warm waters halt,” one clue reads, “and take it in the canyon down.”

Tens of thousands of people have searched for the chest, according to Mr. Fenn. Seekers scrambled across high-elevation trails in Colorado, into the scrublands of New Mexico and toward landscapes carved by glaciers in Montana. Mr. Fenn eventually specified that the valuables were not in an area that an octogenarian would find hard to reach.

But at least two people have died trying to follow his clues, and some have accused Mr. Fenn of endangering people’s lives by offering up a quixotic adventure, or even a hoax. In 2017, Chief Pete Kassetas of the New Mexico State Police urged Mr. Fenn to stop the hunt, saying that people were putting their lives on the line.

“People are coming from other states and other parts of the world to find this elusive treasure that may or may not exist, with very few clues,” Chief Kassetas said at the time. “They’re underestimating New Mexico.”

Mr. Fenn declined to retrieve the chest, however. “If someone drowns in the swimming pool we shouldn’t drain the pool,” Mr. Fenn told The New York Times that year. “We should teach people to swim.”

And there have been accounts of close calls and rescues. In 2013, a Texas woman looking for the chest in New Mexico got lost near Bandelier National Monument, an expanse of 33,000 acres filled with canyons, steep trails and rugged woods. After spending a frigid night between two boulders, she was rescued the next day.

Officer Dusty Francisco, a spokesman for the New Mexico State Police, said that the department was “very pleased to learn that Mr. Forrest Fenn’s alleged treasure has been found.”

He added, “Two lives were lost and many others were put at risk as a result of this pursuit and we are glad it has come to an end.”

Jenny Kile, who has tracked the hunt for years on her website, Mysterious Writings, said on Monday that the hunt had enticed thousands because “it was believed that no matter who you were, it could be done.”

“This belief did have some go against caution, either financially, physically or emotionally,” she added. “But for the vast majority, the opportunity was an adventure of a lifetime. Who doesn’t want to look for treasure?”

On his website this weekend, Mr. Fenn commended all of the thrill seekers who had tried to find the chest over the years.

“I congratulate the thousands of people who participated in the search and hope they will continue to be drawn by the promise of other discoveries,” he said.


Oklahoma winters are bitterly cold, especially the predawn morning of the 21st of December 2006. Sitting at my desk wrapped in a blanket I turned on my computer and waited. Realizing my research into the era of Jeremiah was complete, I hesitated. Staring at the flickering monitor Vendyl Jones came to mind. This, I thought, was a perfect time to try something different, something that haunted me since meeting the Texas gentleman months prior. The old guy, love him or hate him, had some interesting things to say about a strange set of copper scrolls from Qumran details that inspired me to reconsider its role in Biblical history. In all my years of studying the Dead Sea Scrolls, that scroll seemed a waste of energy it made no sense and honestly, bored me to tears.

My desire to “try something different” increased rapidly as thoughts of my first conversation with the Texan came drifting back. I remembered respectfully stating to Vendyl my low opinion of the scroll, “Isn’t the Copper Scroll just a treasure map?” The self-made archaeologist slowly glanced at me, lit his ivory pipe and pushed himself out of his massive recliner saying, “No sir. That is where you are sadly mistaken. That scroll has more prophecy in the first line than all the other non-Biblical texts put together. We had better check on dinner.” Vendyl continued to correct me as we walked onto his patio to examine the remains of a grilled turkey, burnt nearly beyond hope. We had just met, he was the scroll expert, so…who was I to argue?

Vendyl and his wife Anita were wonderful hosts to my family as we spent the weekend listening to him tell us, mostly about his colorful life. His stories, however egocentric, were fascinating and very entertaining but what he told me about the Copper Scroll changed my view forever.

So, that December morning, six months after meeting Vendyl I decided to go for it and apply some investigative techniques on the old scroll and see where it led. After all, I was an award-winning investigator, no one would ever know if the idea failed and what could it hurt? As the book containing the translation fell open across my keyboard the thought came to me, this has got to be the biggest cold case file in history.

What you are about to hear may seem completely impossible, but I promise you it is true. Twenty minutes after examining the translation everything was falling into place. I selected the right map and one after the other each of the first five locations was completely understandable. I was baffled… How did all those scholars miss the obvious and, more importantly, how was I ever going to convince the Israelis that a fireman from Lawton, Oklahoma had figured out the most important and mysterious document in the Middle East?

A month after the initial discovery, with a small stack of notes, maps and a heavy bomber jacket under my arm, my wife and I were on a plane headed for Israel. My life was about to change.

In Retrospect

Established the night of the initial discovery, The Copper Scroll Project developed a simple mission statement, “Help The Nation of Israel recover the items of the Copper Scroll.”

Recorded in the CSP Research book detailing the individual treasure locations are multiple maps with photos and text providing proof for all 57 locations listed. That document has easily convinced many throughout the world that the research is correct and that it will guide Israel back to the treasures, fulfilling our stated mission, if they still remain.

Lining the back page of the original research, protected by dozens of Nondisclosure Agreements, are signatures of readers who gave numeric scores for the accuracy of the work. None gave a score below 93 percent that the research conclusions are correct. The Travel Channel, television news stations, Israel National Radio, The Jerusalem Post, The Jerusalem Connection Magazine, God’s Learning Channel and many local newspapers have reported the discovery. Even the Director General of the Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA) and members of his staff gave positive reviews of the investigative findings. An Israeli archaeologist from the Archaeological Department of the Civil Administration even initiated an excavation marking three of the locations. For some unexplained reason, the ADCA official stopped far short of the depth required by the Copper Scroll.

Stories similar to the CS and the back story of The Copper Scroll Project are the life-blood of books, movies and the unwritten history of the Bible. Amazing hoards of talents (75lb gold and silver ingots) are arranged in deep trenches. Along with those talents are possibly the most important religious artifacts in history. Those artifacts will create instant fame and great temptation for even the most disciplined scholar to abandon required archaeological protocols.

If those artifacts remain at the selected site, they will defy even the most eloquent words expressing their importance for every religion on Earth. When the items are uncovered, Levitical Priests and their authorized family members alone can provide the proper handling and care as required by the Tanach (the Old Testament). Those men qualified to handle the artifacts are available, trained and ready if the Israeli government will allow it. Compliance with Biblical requirements will be paramount for all concerned. Future records will speak favorably of our actions and handling of the relics “only if” we conform to scriptural necessities. In fact, the world must understand, the treasures of the Copper Scroll belong with Israel and no other nation.

Welcome to “The Copper Scroll Project!”

An award-winning investigator discovered the secret to the most treasure laden and mystifying map in history. Artifacts from the Tabernacle of Moses, sacred possessions from Jerusalem’s Temple and massive treasures listed on the Copper Scroll chill prophecy experts, electrify historians and enrage the financial elite. The potential of this mysterious and illusive discovery also holds the most frighteningly unpredictable influence on Middle Eastern and world stability. After a 2400 year absence, the moment the world lays eyes on “the Ark of the Covenant,” the universe will change.

There is no doubt that the treasure locations listed on the Copper Scroll are identified in Jim Barfield’s research. Rabbis, archaeologists, historians and even Israel Antiquities Officials have confirmed the enormous probability that “the Oklahoma investigator is correct”…but do the items remain in place at the popular historic national park in Israel?

January 2013 Jim submitted required paperwork and a report for electronic testing of the historic site after his presentation to the Director of the Archaeological Department of the Civil Administration. The director explained the requirements for the simple scan then blocked it cold. Why?

A renowned Doctor from Hebrew University preparing to work with Jim and the ADCA said, “I have been doing surveys like this for decades with no problems.” Jim asked, “So what is the problem?” After several seconds he offered a bewildered answer, “Mr. Barfield, they are afraid of what you will find…”

The Lost Treasure of the Dead Sea Copper Scroll - History

New release: TREASURE OF THE DEAD: A Dane and Bones Origin Story
by David Wood and Rick Chesler, published by Gryphonwood Press

(paperback edition coming soon)

Maddock and Bones set off on their first treasure hunting adventure!

1715- Blown far off course, their treasure-laden ship sinking, a crew of Spanish sailors struggles ashore, only to encounter a horror out of their worst nightmares.

Dane Maddock and Bones Bonebrake have left the Navy SEALs and set out on a search for the legendary lost treasure fleet. The search takes them to Haiti, where they encounter the forces of a madman bent on finding the treasure in order to fund his maniacal experiments and help him seize the power he craves. But not all their foes are human. Mystery, history, and legend meet as Maddock and Bones scour ancient ruins, plumb the depths of the sea, and come face to face with pure evil in their quest for the Treasure of the Dead.
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More On This.

The treatise is similar in some ways to the metallic "Copper Scroll," one of the Dead Sea Scrolls found near the site of Qumran in the West Bank. The Copper Scroll also discusses the location of hidden treasure, although not from Solomon's Temple.

The treatise describes the treasures in an imaginative way. One part refers to "seventy-seven tables of gold, and their gold was from the walls of the Garden of Eden that was revealed to Solomon, and they radiated like the radiance of the sun and moon, which radiate at the height of the world."

The oldest confirmed example of the treatise, which survives to present day, is from a book published in Amsterdam in 1648 called "Emek Halachah." In 1876, a scholar named Adolph Jellinek published another copy of the text, which was virtually identical to the 1648 version. Davila is the first to translate the text fully into English.

A story of legends
The writer of the text likely was not trying to convey factual locations of the hidden treasures of Solomon's Temple, but rather was writing a work of fiction, based on different legends, Davila told LiveScience. [In Photos: Amazing Ruins of the Ancient World]

"The writer draws on traditional methods of scriptural exegesis [interpretation] to deduce where the treasures might have been hidden, but I think the writer was approaching the story as a piece of entertaining fiction, not any kind of real guide for finding the lost Temple treasures," he wrote in the email.

The structure of the story is confusing. In the prologue it states that Shimmur the Levite (he doesn't appear to be a biblical figure) and his companions hid the treasures, "but later on the text mentions the treasures being in the keeping of or hidden by Shamshiel and other angels," Davila said. "I suspect the author collected various legends without too much concern about making them consistent."

Similarities to the Copper Scroll
The Copper Scroll, which dates back around 1,900 years, and is made of copper, shows several "striking parallels" with the newly translated treatise, Davila said.

The treatise says that the treasures from Solomon's Temple were recorded "on a tablet of bronze," a metal like the Copper Scroll. Additionally, among other similarities, the Treatise of the Vessels and Copper Scroll both refer to "vessels" or "implements," including examples made of gold and silver.

These similarities could be a coincidence or part of a tradition of recording important information on metal.

"My guess is that whoever wrote the Treatise of Vessels came up with the same idea [of writing a treasure list on metal] coincidentally on their own, although it is not unthinkable that the writer knew of some ancient tradition or custom about inscribing important information on metal," wrote Davila in the email, noting that metal is a more durable material than parchment or papyrus.

An ongoing story
The study of the treatise is ongoing, and discoveries continue to be made. For instance, in the mid-20th century a copy of it (with some variations) was discovered and recorded in Beirut, Lebanon, at the end of a series of inscribed plates that record the Book of Ezekiel.

Those plates are now at the Yad Ben Zvi Institute in Israel, although the plates containing the treatise itself are now missing. Recent research has revealed, however, these plates were created in Syria at the turn of the 20th century, about 100 years ago, suggesting the treatise was being told in an elaborate way up until relatively modern times.

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Once unopened, the scrolls are expected to shed new light on the religious practices of the Jewish people during the Second Temple Period between the years of 530 BC and 70, an era named for a holy place of worship for the Jewish people that was constructed by the builder of ancient Jerusalem King Herod. The Dome of the Rock stands today where the Second Temple purportedly once stood.

At least two dozen phylactery scrolls were discovered in the 1940s and 50 along with the rest of the Dead Sea Scrolls in a limestone cave in the West Bank's Qumran in Israel.

"[I] found a number of fragments of tefillin cases from Qumran Cave 4, together with seven rolled-up [phylactery] slips," Adler told the Times of Israel.

Until now, the scrolls remained bound inside the phylacteries for approximately 2,000 years.

The IAA has been tasked with the difficult job of unrolling the scrolls without damaging them.

“We’re going to do it slowly, but we’ll first consult with all of our experts about how to go about this,” said Schor, who would not reveal when the process would start. “We need to do a lot of research before we start doing this.”

Remains of more than 900 religious manuscripts were found in 11 caves near the Dead Sea in the 1940s and 50s in Qumran.

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