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The Copper Scroll and The Excavations at Qumran










Cave Q3 where the Copper Scroll Was Found

The Copper Scroll was discovered in the caves of Qumran in 1952. It remained an enigma for many years. However, intensive research over the past thirty years has begun to unlock many of its secrets. To understand the scroll, one must first understand the geology and geography described within its text.

Comparing the Copper Scroll to the physical location where it was discovered is not an irrational idea. However, such comparisons are really like a game jig-saw puzzle. Parts of the scroll are missing, and parts have been mishandled or damaged in the research process. Many words in the scroll run together. Others are split in the middle or end on the next line.

Based on the more recent photographs taken by Professor Bruce Zuckerman, (1) the earlier texts we have worked with contain at least 80 mistakes in transposition in just 12 columns. (No wonder some of the scroll's critics contend that whoever wrote the scroll did not know Hebrew.) To assemble a jig-saw puzzle, it's best to find the corner pieces and then the pieces that form the borders. Likewise with the scroll, we must take the geographical descriptions and then compare them with the lay of the land. Geological clues must be matched to fit the anatomy of the caves and descriptions of the area. The hidden treasures mentioned must be sized up by linguistic and hermeneutic rabbinical resources. Only then will a picture begin to emerge. This is exactly what we did.

After years of painstaking research and patient testing of each hypothesis through trial and error, we found ourselves holding a piece of the "real" thing, a thing that was only a word in the text when we started. After playing with this jig-saw puzzle for over 30 years, those of us who have been a part of the process are more excited today than ever before. The remaining pieces are falling into place and fitting together with ever-increasing speed.


The Copper Scroll is mysterious, intriguing, vague, controversial, and to say the least, linguistically evasive! The authorities, academia in general, and those who have attempted to deal with its content have, for the most part, labeled it as: "the work of a madman"; "a forgery"; "the Jewish folklore of a mystic"; "a charlatan who did not know Hebrew." ( And the list goes on....

Very few have given any credibility to this document. In De Vaux's own words (2)... "If we give any credence at all to the Copper Scroll, it will be an invitation to treasure hunters from everywhere to descend on the caves of Qumran and destroy any archaeological investigations that might be properly done." John Allegro, (3) in an attempt to get to the presses before T. J. Milik, published a book that only added to the skepticism surrounding the Copper Scroll. Allegro's exaggerated references to the amounts of gold and silver mentioned in the ancient document succeeded in arousing the kind of wild speculation that both De Vaux and Milik hoped to avoid. The work of T. J. Milik (4) on the Copper Scroll is a classic work of scholarship, a work in keeping with the theological views (5) of the Dominican Ecole Biblique in Jerusalem.

It must be emphasized that the language of the scroll is outside the parameters of classical Hebrew. This characteristic brought a response from M. A Ben-Luria who said: "...the scroll could not be understood without a knowledge of rabbinical literature and vocabulary." (6) Ben-Luria further contended that: "the validity and authenticity of the Copper Scroll would remain in question until one single item mentioned in the scroll is discovered. Once something is found at Qumran that is listed among the 64 designated items and places, the scroll's validity will be unquestioned."

Ben-Luria was correct. The Copper Scroll lay entombed and ignored in the Museum of Amman, Jordan for over 20 years. The case was closed -- they considered the document a forgery a dead issue! However, in 1988 everything suddenly changed. Interest in the Copper Scroll was resurrected! The discovery of the juglet of Shemen Afarsimon (Anointing Oil) in Cave 13 (Jordan's cave #24) resurrected the dead scroll! The discovery was made by a team from the Vendyl Jones Research Institutes, in consortium with Hebrew University, assisted by Professor Yoseph Patrich, Benny Arubas (7) and the late Benny Agur. Several universities and institutions immediately set up chairs to re-evaluate the Copper Scroll.Four years later, on April 8, 1992, we were excavating in the Cultural Dome of the "hidden north entrance" at the Cave of the Column. Glenda Hurst, a excavation volunteer from Goshen, Indiana, had come upon something different. Glenda called to Larry Banks, "Larry, come over here and look at this. It's some kind of red stuff that is very different." Larry immediately realized it really was different. He smelled the substance, then he tasted it. "This is organic! I can taste and smell cinnamon in it."

The next morning, Eliyahu Mallenbalm took a sample to Dr. Marvin Antelman at the Weizman Institute. Larry and I took a sample to Ya'acov Arkin at the Israel Institute of Geology. Both determined that the substance was organic. Three days later, Dr. Antelman called to tell us to save all the red substance. The staff at Weizman had found that the material contained at least eight of the spices present in the Pitum haQetoret. Meanwhile, Dr. Antelman had taken two samples to Bar-Ilan University for testing. In the end, all three Departments identified eight of the eleven spices which were used in the manufacture of the Qetoret (Temple Incense).

This second discovery satisfied the condition previously set by Ben-Luria to substantiate the accuracy of the Copper Scroll.

Perhaps the most valuable contribution to the Copper Scroll's validity is the work now being done by Professor Bruce Zuckerman at the Center for Ancient Biblical Manuscripts. Zuckerman was permitted to photograph the Copper Scroll in 1991.

In our own work on the Copper Scroll, Zahava Cohen (my technical assistant) utilized her rabbinical and linguistic expertise to interpret the Copper Scroll. She developed a list of over eighty words that are not found in classical or rabbinical literature. When Zahava and I visited Professor Zuckerman, she showed him the list. Professor Zuckerman explained that he and his associates had found roughly the same number of questionable words. They occur because of the faulty work and subsequent publication of the errors by Allegro and Milik. When Zuckerman's work is published, it will no doubt answer many questions about the Copper Scroll.


I began excavations in Qumran on June 8, 1967, with Solomon Steckoll, (8) and later with anthropologist, Professor Haas from Hebrew University. Steckoll was working under a permit from Jordan's Department of Antiquities. Even then, I was very much aware that the response from many in the academic community would not be favorable. If the Copper Scroll was a "hoax," as many considered it, then to use the "hoax" document as a guide for excavations had to be totally absurd! This criticism was expected and it came! I had no pretense or response.

Our objective was to avoid publicity to keep a low profile and to continue with our task despite the many difficulties. We worked continuously with the scroll from 1967 until 1977. I walked the area for many months in order to "lay the scroll on the ground" and to identify the geography and geology mentioned in the scroll. For those 10 years, I excavated the "words" of the scroll and sought to correlate the places referenced in the scroll with the sites on the ground. The late Pesach Bar-Adon gave me the greatest assistance and encouragement. His suggestions were invaluable and his constant companionship was most rewarding. Pesach was my mentor. He was like a father to me. With his assistance we were ultimately able to identify over 30 points of geographical and geological references in the scroll. These references accurately matched the physical location, corresponding caves, and geographical terrain of the area from "Even Bohan Ben-Reuben to the Canal of Succacah."

The interpretation and analysis of the information contained in the scroll was extensive and time consuming. It was necessary, however, and the ten years of research absolutely essential, to resolve the question of the scroll's validity. If the geography and geology of the area could not be correlated with the "geo-data" of the Copper Scroll, then the scroll was irrelevant. Conversely, if the "geo-data" was accurate with respect to the environment, then the account of the things hidden was more likely to be accurate and factual. A brief synopsis of our research follows.


In the beginning, I had assumed, as did others, that the Copper Scroll was a document written by the Essenes. This assumption later proved to be wrong! However, given such an assumption, and given that the document was considered a hoax by the "authorities," it would have been the Essenes who had perpetrated the hoax!!

This was of course absurd. It would be a breach of logic to think that the same community that wrote the "Manual of Discipline," the "MMS" document and other serious community scrolls, would fabricate, as some have suggested, a practical joke. For the writers of the scroll, particularly these writers, to take the time and trouble to pound out two meters of copper sheet, then painstakingly engrave that sheet with text written in bas relief, (9) and etch thereon a message written in "mirror image," from the reverse side, to make a joke, would be silly in the extreme. Especially if they knew that they would not be alive to laugh at their pun.

Writing the script with a stylus on a copper medium was in itself an arduous task. There had to be a reason why the scroll was written from the back side in "mirror image" so that the letters would protrude on the face side. That answer was literally "wrapped-up" in the windings of the scroll! Those windings were filled with hard clay (10) that was fired to the hardness of pottery in a low temperature kiln. Since the clay contained the impression of the protruding letters of the copper sheet, it was the clay that the writers expected to survive the eons of time, not the copper. Fortunately, the copper too survived because it was encased in the clay. However, the specialists (11) at Manchester did not realize the importance of the scroll's having been written in bas relief. They had no idea that the clay contained the impression of the text. Moreover, they thought that it was necessary to remove the clay before the scroll could be opened. Little did they realize that the clay itself contained readable text. Even more unfortunate, the process they used to remove the clay damaged the highly oxidized copper material and resulted in the loss of some of the scroll's text.

The Manchester team assumed that the windings of the scroll had simply become filled with dirt from the cave -- dirt which had become hardened. However, the consistency of the soil in Cave Q-3 (as in all the caves of the area) is a fine dust powder classified as "sandy loess" that is void of any silicon which would promote the hardening of the dust soil (see fig. 7.71).12 When water is added to this soil and allowed to dry, the soil then returns to dust with no cementation. The hardened clay between the spirals of the scroll was therefore out of situ with the cave's geological environment. The clay had to have been intentionally poured between the copper windings or applied to the surface of the copper before winding, and then fired in a kiln sufficient to bond the clay to a pottery-like hardness.

It is evident that the writers of the scroll fully expected the copper to eventually oxidize. They wrote the scroll with the letters protruding into the clay so the message would be as permanent as a cuneiform clay tablet. It was most unfortunate that the Manchester team was not made aware of this soil data. If they had, the clay might have been removed intact, and when pieced together, might have provided a more legible and lasting message than the copper plate itself. Fortunately, the Copper Scroll had not totally oxidized and much of its message was preserved despite the deterioration and faulty work (13) performed by Manchester team. Few would disagree the Copper Scroll is the most valuable document ever written if it leads us to the discovery of the sacred treasures that are listed within.


There are, of course, those who criticize the use of ancient texts to locate historical treasures. However, Schliemann found Troy using Homer's Iliad and Carter found King Tut's tomb by taking an obscure Egyptian papyrus seriously. Both of these men were criticized by the academia of their day. It is worth noting, however, that while the world remembers the names of Schliemann and Carter no one remembers the names of their critics!The critics say, "To use a written document in an attempt to find what is written therein is not pure objective archaeology." This may be true from a logical point of view. After all, to use a document to search for something is a subjective approach. Yet, it is no more subjective than using a document of Byzantine origin to locate a monastery, or to use Josephus to locate a Herodian building described in his writings, or the Book of Joshua to locate a Middle Bronze city or geographical boundary.

For many, John Allegro's exaggeration of the gold and silver in the Copper Scroll turned the use of the scroll into a "treasure hunt." If the exaggeration were true, it could indeed be objectionable. However, honest scholarship must ignore the objection since it is based on a false premise. The exaggeration must be recognized for what it is, and proper archaeological excavations must proceed. Objectivity, when taken to its ultimate conclusion, always arrives at total subjectivity to objectivity!

Most critics of the Copper Scroll are those who have only scant working knowledge or a college/seminary working knowledge of classical Hebrew at best. They are not conversant in the language nor do they understand rabbinical terminology. As both Ben-Luria and Manfred Lehmann (14) point out: "Without an in-depth knowledge of rabbinical literature and terminology, an understanding of the Copper Scroll is impossible." Even a Hebrew speaking Israeli linguist will fall short of making sense of this "crazy" scroll if he is not conversant in rabbinical terminology. Those who sit in their academic ivory towers of theology, and hide behind sheepskins, only parrot what they think their "respected authorities" have already stated. Any vindication of the Copper Scroll by a "do-er" who begins to find items listed in the scroll, especially using high technology, high standards and elegant methods of excavation, will naturally be an insult to his critics.


The suggestion that the Essenes were the people of Qumran is, in its own right, quite controversial. An objection is raised, for example, because they never refer to themselves as Essenes. Another objection is linguistic: Specifically, the word "Essene" in Josephus (15) and Pliny is Greek, yet there is no root derivative for the word in the Greek language. If the Greek word "Essene" is a corrupt transliteration from a Hebrew original nominative, then it should not be sought through the Greek etymology. Rather, it should be sought through Hebrew etymology. Professor Robert Eisenman has suggested (16) that the word Essene is derived from the Hebrew word Yishiyim or Jessyites. Indeed, if he is correct, then the word Essene should not be expected to have a Greek derivative.

It is more logical to assume that their "Essene" or "Yishiyim" name was derived from their belief. The Yishiyim believed that the One Messiah, or Anointed One, was King David, the Son of Yishai or Jessy. They believed that Mashiach HaShem, David, son of Yishai, would be raised up to be Israel's coming "One King Messiah." There are several references to support this suggestion (see for example Ez. 37:24-28). Also associated with this "raising up of David" is the resurrection and repair of the "geder" or boundaries of the Tabernacle (Succah of David) as indicated within the text of Amos 9:11-12: "On that day, I will raise up the Sukkah (Tabernacle) of David that is fallen. I will raise up the geder [to repair] the breaches thereof; I will raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old; that they (Israel) may inherit the remnant of mankind, (17) and all the Gentiles upon whom My Name is called, says the L-rd, who will bring this about."

The "Son of David" in the Davidic Covenant of I Sam. 7:1-17 is restricted to Shlomo (Solomon) alone who built the Great House of G-d. However, no term of Messiah was applied to Shlomo other than his royal anointing by Nathan the Prophet. Nor was it said that the great House of G-d built by Shlomo was to be eternal. Only the terminology used for the Mishkan (Tabernacle) was eternal.

Those appellations that pertain to the idea of a Messiah in the Davidic Covenant, and other above references, are purely eschatological. They refer only to the raising up of David himself. The Essenes believed that David was (and would be) the only one called "The L-rd's Messiah."

According to the preceding text in Amos, the recovery of the ancient Tabernacle, and the repair of its "geder," would precede the coming of Messiah. This concept fits within the sequential syntax of recent history (i.e. the return of the Land of Israel to the people of Israel, and the return of the people of Israel to the Land of Israel.)

It may well have been this Messianic idea that formed the beliefs of the Yishiyim (Essenes). If so, this would account for the absence of the traditional Jewish Messiah concept in the scrolls attributed to the Qumran sect, and for the fact that the idea of an imminent redemption for Israel (from the threat of Rome) would be missing in this document. To the contrary, the redemption of Israel that is mentioned in the texts suggests an eschatological redemption that is far in the future from the writers of the Copper scroll's own time.

Just as it is futile to equate the text of the War Scroll with the circumstances surrounding the Maccabeean period, as some have attempted, so the Messianic concept of the Yishiyim in the texts and its implications should be obvious. This document in particular, and the scrolls in general, ignore the normal Messianic tradition in Judaism because the Essenes had their own point of view a point of view that is even further removed from the Messianic concepts advanced by Christianity. Their name "Yishiyim" likely refers to their beliefs, and indicates that they expected the raising up of King David the Son of Yishi, and the return of the Tabernacle to Gilgal. They also expected the judicial system of the first commonwealth to be reestablished prior to the restoration of Temple worship in Jerusalem. (18)

This, however, raises a very important question. Did the Essenes (or whoever these Qumran people were) hide the Temple treasure before the destruction in 70 CE and write the Copper Scroll as is commonly believed? For years I accepted this conclusion. I was wrong, however, as were others. The Copper Scroll, contrary to popular belief, deals primarily with the treasures of the ancient Tabernacle, not the Herodian Temple!

Except for the spices of the Incense (Qetoret) and the Ashes of the Red Heifer (that are contained within a vessel called the "Kalal"), the items that are described in the Copper Scroll all belong to the First Commonwealth, not the Second. That also would explain why two things from the First Temple (19) were not present in the Second Temple (i.e. the Ark of the Covenant and the Shemen Afarsimon (Anointing Oil).


The first inkling we had that the hidden treasure belonged to the First Commonwealth was from the illustrious "First Ark Explorer," A. F. Futterer, (20) during the first two decades of this century. Futterer based his arguments on II Maccabees 2:1-6. Of course, the Book of Maccabees is apocryphal. It was not written to be of prophetic candor. It was written after the period of the Prophets had ended. The writer expressed his purpose and intention in II Maccabees 15:37-39: "So ends this episode... I shall bring my own work to an end here too. If it is well composed and to the point, that is just what I wanted. If it is trashy and mediocre, that is all I could manage. Just as it is injurious to drink wine by itself, and again to drink water, whereas wine mixed with water is pleasant and produces a delightful sense of well-being, so skill in presenting the incidents is what delights the understanding of those who read the story. On this note I will close."

In II Maccabees 2:1-8, the author writes: "(1) It is also found in the records that the prophet Jeremiah ordered those who were carried away to take some of the fire, as has been described. (2) And that after giving them the Torah, the prophet charged those who were carried away not to forget the L-rd's commands, and not to be led astray in their minds when they would see gold and silver idols and their ornamentation. (3) And with other similar exhortations he told them that the Torah should not pass from their hearts. (4) It was also in the writing that the prophet, in obedience to a revelation, gave orders that the Tent (Tabernacle) and the Ark should accompany him, and that he went away to the mountain where Moses went up and beheld G-d's inheritance. (5) And Jeremiah came and found a cave-dwelling, and he took the Tent and the Ark and the Incense Altar into it, and he blocked up the entrance. (6) And some of those who followed him came up to mark the road, but they could not find it. (7) When Jeremiah found out about this, he reprimanded them and said, 'The place shall be unknown until G-d re-gathers the congregation of His people together and shows His mercy. (8) Then G-d will show where they (the Tabernacle, Ark, and Altar) are, and the Glory of G-d will be revealed as it was revealed in the days of Moses.'"

If, on the one hand, the Maccabeean writer had access to the non-canonical (21) writings of Jeremiah and reported their contents accurately, then the writings cannot and should not be considered apocryphal! On the other hand, even though the Maccabeean writer records events pertaining to Jeremiah, those events are not included in the text of the book of Jeremiah. Therefore, the writings cannot be considered Canonical Catch 22! And there is yet another catch. These other records also validate the oral tradition of Jewish sources.

Since the Copper Scroll is written explicitly about the Tabernacle and its contents, the Jeremiah passage in II Maccabees takes on an entirely different light. The Jeremiah passage seems to place the cave "where Moses saw G-d's inheritance" on the East side the presumption being that the cave was on the "East side," in apparent contradiction to the Copper Scroll which states that "the complete Tabernacle is on the West side" [QCS column VI line 11]. The latter would suggest that it might possibly have been moved from Mt. Nebo to "the chamber under the Ma'alot of the Cave of the Column facing the East" [QCS column I, line 1-5]. On the other hand, we must ask: What were the "records that were also found" mentioned in II Maccabees 2:1? Are they extant, and if so, can they reconcile the apparent conflict in the texts?

In 1992 Rabbi Rachmael Steinburg made an evaluation: "If Jones' ideas are valid, then it must be somewhere in our tradition and has simply been overlooked. We must begin now to search and ascertain the possibility that Jones could be right." Rabbi Steinburg and his student, Rabbi Mendel Tropper, began to search for sources that could shed light on "the other records." They found another source for and reference to "the records" in a book published in Amsterdam, Holland in the year 1648. It was written by Rabbi Naftali (ben Elchanan) Hertz. The work was entitled Emeq HaMelekh ("Valley of the King").

The reconciliation of the texts is really not so difficult. It revolves around the words, "[Jeremiah] went away to the mountain where Moses went up and beheld G-d's inheritance. And Jeremiah came and found a cave-dwelling..." (II Maccabees 2:4-5). As we have noted, at first glance, this would seem to refer to Mt. Nebo as mentioned in the Torah: "And Moses went up from the plains of Moav to the peak (Pisgah) of Mount Nebo, facing Jericho, and G-d showed him all the land of Gil'ad, to Dan, and all of Naftali, and the land of Efrayim and Menashe, and all the land of Yehudah, as far as the sea, and the Negev, and the plain; the Valley of Jericho, city of the palms, as far as Zo'ar" (Deuteronomy 34:1-3).

The truth is, however, that the "cave-dwelling" mentioned in II Maccabees 2:5 was not necessarily on Mt. Nebo! In fact, Mt. Nebo is not even mentioned in the II Maccabees account. It merely states: "...where Moses went up and beheld G-d's inheritance." The Cave of the Column complex can easily be seen from Mt. Nebo. On a clear day one can see the church on top of Mt. Nebo from the Cave of the Column. Obviously, we have all made the mistake of not reading the II Maccabbees text carefully, and reading into the text something that is not written there.

The entrance to the cavern under the mountain is today covered and its specific location unknown. According to some sources it is the exit from the Cave of Zidkiyah which begins just North of the Damascus Gate. The cavern descends toward the Dead Sea and finally exits in Emeq Achor. II Kings 25:4-5 reads: "[The wall of] the city was breached, and all the men of war [fled] by night by way of the gate between the two walls, which is by the king's garden. Now, the Chaldeans were against the city round about, and [Zidkiyah, the king] went the way toward the plain [Aravah]. And the army of the Chaldeans pursued after the king, and overtook him in the plain [Aravah] of Jericho...." According to other sources the exit's opening is over 7 meters (~23 feet) high and 20 meters (~66 feet) wide. That is larger than the overpass of a 3 lane freeway. Moses would have no problem viewing that gaping size opening from Mt. Nebo, even without prophetic vision.


According to the Copper Scroll, at Column V, Line 12-14 & column VI, line 1, it says:

*   [V:12]: In the tomb which is in (at) the River of the Dome

*   [V:13]: in the coming (way) from Jericho to Succacah, dig 7 cubits, like this ( ) {~squiggle sign~},

*   [VI:1]: XXX (beside the ?) Cave of the Column with two openings

*   [VI:2]: entrances viewing East

*   [VI:3]: in the North opening viewing Eastward

*   [VI:3]: in the hidden opening dig

*   [VI:4]: 3 cubits and there is the Kalal

*   [VI:5]: underneath it (the Kalal) is one book [possibly the Silver Scroll]. To the East dig in the opening like this {~squiggle sign~}

*   [VI:10]: 7 cubits

*   [VI:11]: in(side is the) complete Tabernacle on the side Westward. Dig Cubits

*   [VI:13]: seventeen

*   [VI:14-15]: in the arch (which is the) chamber of the High Priest...

These 17 lines contain and identify 10 points of geographical and/or geological reference. The "River of the Dome" is one of these points. There are four rivers between Jericho and Succacah. Three of them are identified on current maps, one is not. From north to south, they include:

1)      Wadi Kelt (also referred to as Ma'aleh Adummim, located just south of Jericho).

2)      Wadi Hoglah (also referred to as Wadi Og, just south of Kibbutz Almog).

3)      Wadi Nahal HaKippah (the third Wadi and the only one crested by a dome, runs on the north side of Kibbutz Qaliyah. This is Nahal HaKippah. The river has no modern map reference).

4)      Wadi Qumran (the present-day name for the fourth is Wadi Qumran. Adam Smith, in his Smith Bible Dictionary written at the turn of the century, identified what is today Wadi Qumran as Wadi Succacah.

All of these Wadi's in 'Emeq-'Achor flow from the West to the East and each could provide an East/West map coordinate. The one, however, referenced here in the scroll is the third Wadi called "Nahal HaKippah." It marks the proper East/West coordinate (See column V, line 12 above). To pinpoint the location of the cave mentioned here in the scroll, a North/South coordinate must be found to overlay against this East/West coordinate. The very next line the scroll identifies this North/South line as "the [road] coming from Jericho to Succacah." (22) The road from Jericho to Succacah runs from the North to the South and intersects the Wadi Nahal HaKippah as it runs from the East to the West. These geographical coordinates literally form an "X" which marks the spot! It is precisely at this intersection that we find the Cave of the Column. These descriptions and coordinates allow no other conclusion to be drawn from the geographical references in the Copper Scroll.


The geology of the Copper Scroll can also be used to positively identify the site that we have been excavating. For example, the first column of the scroll reads:

*   [I:5]: Here is the Tabernacle, on the third level, and all the pieces of

*   [I:6]: gold. (squiggle) In the large hole that is in the court (large chamber) of the

*   [I:7]: pillar (column), deep in the wall that is covered (the) blue (which is)

*   [I:7]: opposite to the very high opening

*   [I:9]: in the heap [Tel] (that is) blue....

The first mention of the Tabernacle is in column I, line 5 of the Copper Scroll. This reference ties its location to the place discussed above in columns V and VI, but note that the corresponding description identifies the geology of the location rather than the geography.

In column I, line 6, the Copper Scroll describes a very large hole (23) that is high above the wall. It says there is a large hole in the upper chamber and that opposite the hole there is a hidden (or closed) opening. It also says that deep inside this column wall is something blue, although it does not say what. There is nothing in the geology of the cave that is blue!

On September 18, 1968, I found a large hole while surveying the top side of the mountain. (24) That was the same day I discovered the River of the Dome and the Cave of the Column. In 1977, we began our first excavation of the site. I climbed into the upper chamber to show Pesach the large hole and the corresponding passage in the scroll. Pesach carefully reviewed the passage and the physical characteristics of the chamber. If this was the hole mentioned in the scroll then there should be a hidden opening opposite the hole. There were numerous, sizable stones laying on the floor. (25) One of these caught Pesach's eye. It was not large, but only the upper end was exposed. Pesach tapped the stone and said: "This stone is not natural here. Dig around it." When it was exposed, it proved to be piece of solid granite which had been worn smooth by water. The stone was about 130 cm. long by about 90 cm. wide. It was approximately 30 cm. thick and weighed several hundred pounds. We rolled the stone over and it was indeed covering a hidden opening that led to a descending passage. The passage led into the column side of the chamber and angled northward toward another huge chamber in the back. (26) The descent continued for some 8 meters and then bottomed out into a small circular room that was 2.5 meters wide by 3 meters in length. There was a red clay dome [Tel] (that was not in situ) blocking the way but we managed to climb over it. After a space of 6 meters, we found fill that almost reached the ceiling. I asked Pesach, "Where is the blue thing that is supposed to be here?" He just shrugged his shoulders and said, "Nu?" ("So?").

It was not until the summer of 1988 that the mystery of the "blue" thing was solved. Johnny Powell (our staff engineer) and I went into the cave to do some photographic "light painting" and survey the cave after the excavation was closed. We descended to the bottom of the shaft that had been opened eleven years earlier in 1977.

The bottom of the descent formed a narrow, natural, arch-like, dolomite bridge (27) between the walls. By this time we had excavated the entire back chamber, over 10 meters below the original (cultural/man-made) red clay heap. As I crawled out on the dolomite bridge, I laid the flashlight on the stone and leaned out over the ledge to take the top rung of the ladder. I almost fainted from shock! There in the pitch darkness of the chamber, about 10 meters below, was a glowing blue aura (28) on the floor of the chamber.

I had to wait a few seconds before I could even speak. I yelled for Johnny to come down and see something. Then I rolled out of the way so he could lean over the edge. When Johnny saw the glowing blue aura he just began to weep out loud. I couldn't resist but to follow suit.

The blue beam was coming down just to our left beside the natural dolomite bridge on which Johnny and I were laying. This was precisely where the "Blue Heap(Tel Kahelet)" was located when we first entered the descending shaft with Pesach Bar-Adon in the early morning in 1977. The "blue aura" would not have been evident on that Tel until shortly after noon.


The references to "blue" occur several places in the scroll, including column I:7-9; II:13; and XII:10. What is this mystery of the blue aura? Tom Sever, Senior Archaeologist at NASA, relates that Inca and Mayan temples also have this phenomenon, as do some of the pyramids in Egypt. In these temples the blue aura is engineered into the structure and occurs only at a certain time of the year.

Unlike the aura in these man-made edifices, the blue aura in the Cave of the Column is completely natural. Moreover, it occurs throughout the entire year. The phenomena occurs when the sun approaches its apogee above the large hole in the ceiling of the upper chamber. (29) The bluish color of the aura is caused when the intensity of the sun's protoclypse is strong enough to project the blue of the atmosphere into the chamber below. The contour of the shaft, (30) as it passes from the upper chamber to the lower chamber, focuses and intensifies the sun's glow in much the same way as an old-fashioned pin-hole camera projects an image onto its film. The long narrow passage was open just enough to constrain and intensify blue beam of light until it is projected onto the surface.

When the blue beam struck the floor of the pitch dark cave, the soft blue aura actually glowed with a constantly changing, iridescent zohar-like blue hue. If the sky was cloudy and grey, then the area below became grey. Once the sun's apogee moved directly over the hole, the direct sunlight would illuminate the entire back chamber.

The Chamber with the Spices on the north also has a small hole that produces the same phenomenon, but on a much smaller scale.

It is more than interesting that the Cave of the Column matches, not only the geographical and geological specifications in the scroll, but also the physics of the scroll as it pertains to the blue aura.

In 1982, I took a copy of the Copper Scroll to Professor Mary Williams, a graphologist expert. She was an instructor at the Police Academy at the time and taught a course to crime-lab specialists on the science of handwriting analysis. She explained that she had no prior knowledge of Hebrew but that it was not necessary to know or understand the language of the handwriting to be analyzed. During the course of her work she had occasion to work with handwriting in several other languages that were unfamiliar to her. Regardless of the language, an individual's personality, moods, character traits and values are "fingerprinted" into their style of handwriting.

When Professor Williams finished her analysis, she made the following observations:

1)      This scroll was written by more than one person.

2)      Five distinctly different styles of writing indicated that five people were involved in the writing of the document.

3)      The change of the writers occurred at random throughout the scroll... In other words:

4)      The writers did not take specific columns and then combine their separate works together.

5)      The evidence indicated that the scroll was probably written in one session by the five authors.

6)      The writers traded-off rather frequently, sometimes in the middle of a line. (When I told her that it was written on a copper sheet with a stylus from the back side in mirror image and what she was seeing was a written transposition of a bas relief, she said; "No wonder they switched writers so often. Now I wonder if I might be picking up some of the person's traits who was doing the transcribing!")

7)      Those who wrote the scroll seemed to have been under a lot of stress, but one more so than the others.

Professor Williams told me: "If I could see the original copper document, I could tell much more about the individuals who wrote each part. I truly appreciate the opportunity to see a document this old. It made me realize that people have not changed in the last 2000 years."

Her findings accurately matched the information related in the Mishnayot. Five people wrote the scroll. Now we know their names and the circumstances that surround the writing of the scroll. We also know that the scroll was not an Essene document of the Second Temple but was produced just prior to the destruction of the First Temple, five centuries earlier.

There are four documents that describe the "hidden treasures" of the Tabernacle. These documents confirm and validate one another. They are:

1)      The Copper Scroll which contains a list of the artifacts and where they were hidden.

2)      A silver scroll which contains an inventory of each item and an explanation of all that was hidden with private inventory marks corresponding to the items.

3)      Two marble tablets hidden at Mt. Carmel.

4)      An ibex skin scroll which is an instruction manual on how to re-institute the service of the Holy Temple once these hidden treasures have been found.

The Copper Scroll was discovered in Cave Q3 on March 20, 1952. Later that same year, a Museum in Beirut, Lebanon was emptied for renovation. In the basement storage-room of the museum the curator found two marble tablets signed by "the servant of HaShem, Shimur HaLevi." Shimur HaLevi is the first of the five men named in the Mishnayot (Mishnah 1).

The Marble Tablets were written in bas relief just like the Copper Scroll. (Note: The Ezekiel Tablets (31) were also written in bas relief. All of these documents may have been written in whole or in part by the hitherto unknown Shimur HaLevi). In 1963, an ibex skin scroll was found in Cave Q11 at Qumran. Cave Q11 is just a stone's throw from the Qetoret "factory" where the mixture of the spices was discovered in 1992. In 1967, Professor Yigal Yadin acquired the Ibex Skin Scroll which he later published under the title "The Temple Scroll." (32)

Three of the four above records have been recovered. The "Silver Scroll" however, remains to be found. It is not inconceivable that the "One Book" under the "Kalal" is the "Silver Scroll" mentioned in the other records.

The "One Book" is mentioned at column VI, line 5 (see above, page 13), and column XII, line 11.

*   [XII:10] "In the place (setting) / which is clear (apparently clean and natural) / in the North / blue opening (a small one) / that is hidden

*   [XII:11] "and burial (stone-s) / on (over) the mouth of the / the second (opening) / this writing (another scroll)

*   [XII:12] "and explanations / and anointing oil / and the private (inventory marks)

*   [XII:13] "one and (by) one."

Only time will tell whether the "One Book" under the "Kalal" is the Silver Scroll.

Another mystery of the Copper Scroll that gives rise to diverse opinions is a certain mark that occurs repeatedly throughout the scroll. A double "kaf" in Hebrew, appears preceding all of the non-Hebrew letters. In this report, I refer to these Non-Hebrew letters as ~squiggles~. Allegro, Milik and most others attribute them to some extinct numeric system. Allegro took the liberty to assign whatever numerical value that he chose to each of the ~squiggles~, and even that without consistency.

There are, of course, several possibilities. Since the word Kikarin precedes the ~squiggles~ in column II, line 2, we might assume, as did Bar-Adon and others, that the double "kaf" was a contraction of Kikar. Professor Beno Rothenberg (33) explains that when metal was smelted in a Kur, the molten metal cooled in the round bottom of the earthen vessel to form a disc shaped ingot. That circular shaped ingot is called a Kikar Kesef, or Kikar Zahav, in the case of gold ingots. It would be logical to assume that where silver or gold is mentioned, it probably refers to it in terms of a Kikar. [The expression "Ashtot Zahav" (column I, line 5-6 & column II, line 4] is likely a specific reference to other types of objects made of gold.]

It is my opinion that the double "kaf" may designate a private inventory mark. These may correlate with identical marks in the "Silver Scroll." If this theory is correct, then the hidden item itself will have a seal with the same squiggle. The double "kaf" would then read "kaf" and "kaf sofit," and mean "like this" or "like so," referring to the inventoried item. Each hidden item would thus be part of a triple cross-reference: the Copper Scroll, the Silver Scroll, and the hidden item itself.


In summary, the pieces of the puzzle have found their place from the written text of the scroll to the Qumran environs. The geographical, geological and astronomical effect of the blue aura are all in focus as projected by the Copper Scroll. The contention of Ben-Luria that, "If one single item from the scroll is found in this area it will validate the authenticity of the Copper Scroll," has been fulfilled. The recovery of the Shemen Afarsimon and the Qetoret substantiate Ben-Luria's contention. Manfred Lehmann and Ben-Luria both attest to the necessity of understanding rabbinical literature to comprehend the message of the scroll. The use of the "Rosh" style letters rather than archaic Hebrew, like the Ezekiel Tablets, places that alphabet considerably earlier than thought in the past. Moreover, the use of the Mishnaic/Aramaic spellings moves the use of this writing style several centuries earlier than had been previously thought.

Some have criticized the scroll because it lacks proper style and flow of thought. However, we must remember that in the Mishnayot it is referred to as "Luach Nahoshet" that describes a list on copper. Since it is a list of hidden treasures, it does not require or demand a narrative or flow of thought. As Col. Mati Pelet (ret.) pointed out, "The style of the Copper Scroll is an elegant 'high-tech' document. It is a state-of-the-art document in terms of computer technology. The first line of the scroll, for example, opens with a very wide window: 'In the desolations of the Valley of Achor,' then immediately drops to a small window referring to a particular Ma'alot situated in about the center of the big window. Then, the details of the geography and geology fall into even smaller windows. Those fellows who wrote this scroll would have made excellent computer programmers."

When the entire scroll is viewed from end to end and a diagonal line is drawn from corner to corner, the point of intersection is column VI, line 6. This reopens the same wide window that was opened in the opening line of the scroll. But this time it takes a road map type of description rather than a geographic one:

"From Jericho to Succacah," at the end of column V in the middle of the entire scroll is precisely the extent of "'Emeq 'Achor" described in the opening of Column I line 1 of the scroll. The smaller window that opens in column V:1 with the "Cave of the Column with two openings viewing East," meshes with Column I:2 in the "Ma'alot viewing to the East."

Again, "the opening facing the east" is brought into focus. The very important "Kalal" (which contains the Ashes of the Red Heifer) in column VI, line 4, then meshes to the reference to the Mishkan in column I, line 5.

In the very center, at column VI, line 6, is a pictorial icon of the Cave of the Column showing the two openings, and the Wadi on the south side.

Similarly, column VI, line 11, refers to "the complete Mishkan on the west side," retracting to column I, line 5, where it reads "here is the Mishkan on the third level...."

The layout of the scroll bears an unmistakable mathematical pattern that demonstrates the precision and the intent of the writers. There is a subtle zig-zag pattern woven between the items mentioned in the first 6 columns and those mentioned in the second 6 columns all of which bears witness to the astute scholarship and august character of the five writers of this magnificent document!

Under Jeremiah's command, Haggai and Zachariah were two of the five writers of the Copper Scroll. These two are called the last of the latter prophets. Their books are both commonly known to us. They were both witnesses of the destruction of the First Holy Temple and the rebuilding of the Second Temple. Since they knew where the Tabernacle Treasures were hidden, the question naturally arises: Why didn't they recover them for the Second Commonwealth? The answer is, however, that all three wrote of the Third Temple, not the Second, as the ultimate Glory.

Could the destiny these two Prophets foresaw for the Third Jewish Commonwealth and Third Temple have a sequel in the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the very same Jewish year the State of Israel was reborn? This was a true co-incident! Even Professor Sukinik stated so. (As he purchased Israel's very first Scrolls in Bethlehem on the eve of the UN vote, he was unaware of the political happenings of that day.)

Could the "Door of Hope"( Petah-Tiqvah in 'Emeq-'Achor of Hosea 2:15 perhaps be the opening of that very cave that Jeremiah and his companions sealed "In the desolations of the Valley of Achor"? Could the hidden chamber that holds the treasures of Israel's glorious past(even yet be the Door of Hope for our more glorious future? If perchance it be so, this archaeological excavation is not only digging-up the past (it is uniquely digging-up the future!


The purpose for the continuation of our excavations at Qumran is to validate the accuracy of the Copper Scroll. This has been our objective since the beginning. According to the Scroll, the Cave of the Column complex should have seven chambers. The cave that is described as being "hidden on northern side" is the cave where the Qetoret was recovered. This was the sixth chamber that we excavated in that complex.

The next step in our excavations will require several months work involving at least 50 volunteers. I have a loyal team of B'nai-Noach volunteers who have sacrificed season after season, year after year, to be a part of this work with the Copper Scroll. They have stood tall and strong( shoulder to shoulder(hand in hand(side by side(heart to heart in their dedication to the concept of One G-d, the Torah and the destiny of the Jewish People and the Land of Israel. They are determined to finish this work efficiently and promptly.


1 Director of West Semitic Research Project, Taper Hall 328 B9,
University of Southern California, Los Angeles 90089-0355.
2 De Vaux's lecture at the Ecole Biblique, 1964.
3 The Treasure of the Copper Scroll, by John Marco Allegro,
Published by Routledge & Kegan Paul LTD, 1960.
4 The Copper Scroll, by T.J. Milik, Published by Oxford Press.
5 Preconceived theological views may well account for the many
mistranspositions of letters.
6 Introduction to: The Copper Scroll from the Judean Desert,
by M.A. Luria, Qiryat Sefer LTD., Jerusalem.
7 A Juglet Containing Balsam Oil(?) From a Cave Near Qumran,
by Joseph Patrich and Benny Arubas, Offprint from the Israel
Exploration Journal, Volume 39, 1989, Haifa University.
8 A Reexamination of the Qumran Community, by Solomon Steckoll,
Review De Qumran, 1969.
9 The Bas Relief style is evidenced in the better color photographs
taken by Bruce Zuckerman in his pre-release photos of column VIII.
10 The Treasure of the Copper Scroll, by John Marco Allegro, page 24,
Published by Routledge & Kegan Paul LTD, 1960.
11 H. Wright Baker & Associates.
12 Soils of the Lower Jordan Valley, Extract from "Aridic Soils of Israel:
Properties, Genesis and Management,"
by J. Dan, Agricultural Research
Organization Institute of Soils and Water, International Conference on
Aridic Soils, Guidebook to Excursions, Jerusalem, Israel,
March/April, 1981. Z.F. Begin, 1974, The Geological Map of Israel, 1:50,000,
Sheet 9/III, Jericho (with explanatory notes).
The Geological Survey, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Jerusalem.
Jaacov Arkin, Hydrometer Analysis, Fig. 7.71, Trend of Gradation and Plasticity,
for loess from Kansas-Nebraska, Gibbs et. al., 1960.
13 Mistransposition of letters.
14 Biblical Archaeological Review,
Volume 19, Number 6, November/December 1993
15 The Life and Work of Josephus, Published by John C. Weston Winston Co.,
Philadelphia, Chicago and Toronto, pp. 387, 471, 529, 531, 673-674.
16 The Pharisees Christians and Essenes at Qumran, by Robert Eisenman,
Brill, 1983. 17 This translation is in based on the Septuagint's reading,
"Sheerit Adam" (remnant of Adam-mankind)
as opposed to "Sheerit Edom" (remnant of Edom).
18 Compare Isaiah 1:21-27 (especially vs. 26-27).
19 Encyclopedia Judaica,
Vol. III, Pg. 31, 1; Babylonian Talmud, Horayot 11b, 12a;
Jerusalem Talmud, Horayot 3:4 (47c).
20 Palestine Speaks, by A.F. Futterer, Published by the
Holy Land Bible Institute,
Los Angeles, CA., 1931.
21 The term "non-canonical" refers to writings that are not
contained in the text of the Bible.
22 The late Pesach Bar-Adon identified the area of the
Qumran settlement and Ein-Feshkah
or Ein Tzuqim as Succacah.
23 See Map Profile of the Southwest Column, X105 Z125.
24 Ibid.
25 See Planometric Map, Cave of the Column, X204.
26 Ibid. from 204 to right of 207.
27 Map Profile of the Southwest Side of the Cave of the Column,
VJ101(atX108 Z108
28 Ibid. X108, Z102 at point DH3.
29 See Map Profile of the Southwest Column, X105, Z125.
30 Map Profile of the Southwest Side of the Cave of the Column, from PI.SJ
(at X113, Z106) to VJ101.
31 The Ezekiel Tablets date from the same period. These stones
were found in Lebanon but today they are housed in Jerusalem.
32 The Temple Scroll, by Yigal Yadin, Published by Weidenfeld
and Nicholson, 1985.
33 The Ancient Metallurgy of Copper, by Beno Rothenberg.



Hear Vendyl's Class!

An inscription on a mysterious Copper Scroll, found in the Qumran caves in Israel, has led Professor Vendyl Jones on a life-long quest to locate sacred treasures from the Temple of Solomon.  Vendyl Jones takes the reader from the dusty plains of Texas to the sun-baked Judean wilderness where his ongoing archaeological dig has yielded a cache of ancient spices and a clay vial of precious oils. His search could ultimately uncover the greatest prize of all -- the fabled Ark of the Covenant.

246 pp. Paperback w/photos and index

$18.00  (plus S & H)

Treasures of the Copper Scroll
A Lifelong Quest
for Sacred Treasures

$15.00  (plus S & H)


Here is the remarkable story of an ancient scroll uncovered in the caves along the shores of the Dead Sea in 1952. Some scholars considered the scroll's Hebrew text to be a legend while others, such as John Allegro, believed that the artifact led to untold riches hidden away over 2,500 years ago.

Convinced of its authenticity, Biblical Archaeologist Vendyl Jones launched a 30-year quest for the treasures which included the Breastplate of the High Priest, the Ashes of the Red Heifer and the Ark of the Covenant.

This website was last updated Aug 20, 2009

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