Polio vaccines are vaccines used to prevent poliomyelitis (polio). Two types are used: an inactivated poliovirus given by injection (IPV) and a weakened poliovirus given by mouth (OPV). The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends all children be fully vaccinated against polio. The two vaccines have eliminated polio from most of the world, and reduced the number of cases reported each year from an estimated 350,000 in 1988 to 33 in 2018.
The inactivated polio vaccines are very safe. Mild redness or pain may occur at the site of injection. Oral polio vaccines cause about three cases of vaccine-associated paralytic poliomyelitis per million doses given. This compares with 5,000 cases per million who are paralysed following a polio infection. Both are generally safe to give during pregnancy and in those who have HIV/AIDS but are otherwise well.
This 1963 poster featured CDC's national symbol of public health, the "Wellbee", encouraging the public to receive an oral polio vaccine.
Interruption of person-to-person transmission of the virus by vaccination is important in the global polio eradication, since no long-term carrier state exists for poliovirus in individuals with normal immune function, polio viruses have no nonprimate reservoir in nature, and survival of the virus in the environment for an extended period of time appears to be remote.
When the IPV is used, 90% or more of individuals develop protective antibodies to all three serotypes of polio virus after two doses of inactivated polio vaccine (IPV), and at least 99% are immune to polio virus following three doses. The duration of immunity induced by IPV is not known with certainty, although a complete series is thought to provide protection for many years.
One dose of OPV produces immunity to all three poliovirus serotypes in roughly 50% of recipients. Three doses of live-attenuated OPV produce protective antibodies to all three poliovirus types in more than 95% of recipients. OPV produces excellent immunity in the intestine, the primary site of wild poliovirus entry, which helps prevent infection with wild virus in areas where the virus is endemic. The live virus used in the vaccine can rarely shed in the stool and can rarely spread to others within a community. The live virus also has stringent requirements for transport and storage, which are a problem in some hot or remote areas. As with other live-virus vaccines, immunity initiated by OPV is probably lifelong.
The trivalent (against wild types 1, 2, and 3) OPV has been used to nearly eradicate polio infection worldwide. Led by The Global Polio Eradication Initiative, 155 countries switched to use the bivalent (against wild type 1 and 3) between 17 April and 1 May 2016. The bivalent OPV is more effective against type 1 and 3 but does not cover type 2. The United States as of 2017 continues to recommend the use of a trivalent version, but a fully inactivated version.
Share of one-year-olds vaccinated against polio in 2015
In countries with endemic polio or where there is a high risk of imported cases, the WHO recommends OPV vaccine at birth followed by a primary series of 3 OPV and at least one IPV doses starting at 6 weeks of age, with a minimum of 4 weeks between OPV doses. In countries with >90% immunization coverage and low risk of importation, the WHO recommends one or two IPV doses starting at 2 months of age followed by at least two OPV doses, with the doses separated by 4–8 weeks depending on the risk of exposure. In countries with the highest levels of coverage and the lowest risks of importation and transmission, the WHO recommends a primary series of 3 IPV injections, with a booster dose after an interval of six months or more if the first dose was administered before 2 months of age.
The inactivated polio vaccines are very safe. Mild redness or pain may occur at the site of injection. Oral polio vaccine results in vaccine-associated paralytic poliomyelitis in about three per million doses. They are generally safe to give during pregnancy and in those who have HIV/AIDS, but are otherwise well.
cVPDV cases outnumbered wild polio cases for the first time in 2017
A potential, but rare, adverse effect of the OPV is its known ability to recombine to a form that causes neurological infection and paralysis. This genetic reversal of the pathogen to a virulent form takes a considerable time (at least 12 months) and does not affect the person who was originally vaccinated. The vaccine-derived attenuated virus is normally excreted from vaccinated people for a limited period. Thus, in areas with poor sanitation and low vaccination coverage, the spontaneous reversal of the vaccine-derived virus to a virulent form and its spreading in the environment can lead to unvaccinated people becoming infected. Clinical disease, including paralysis, caused by vaccine-derived poliovirus (VDPV) is indistinguishable from that caused by wild polioviruses. This is believed to be a rare event, but outbreaks of vaccine-associated paralytic poliomyelitis (VAPP), caused by a circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV), have been reported, and tend to occur in areas of low coverage by OPV, presumably because the OPV is itself protective against the related outbreak strain. With wild polio cases at record lows, 2017 was the first year where more cases of cVDPV were recorded than the wild poliovirus, a trend that is expected to continue.
To combat this the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2016, decided to switch from the trivalent polio vaccine to the bivalent polio vaccine. This vaccine no longer contains the type 2 polio virus because it was eradicated in 1999.
SV40 was found to be present in stocks of the injected form of the polio vaccine (IPV) in use between 1955 and 1963. It is not found in the OPV form. Over 98 million Americans received one or more doses of polio vaccine between 1955 and 1963 when a proportion of vaccine was contaminated with SV40; an estimated 10–30 million Americans may have received a dose of vaccine contaminated with SV40. Later analysis suggested that vaccines produced by the former Soviet bloc countries until 1980, and used in the USSR, China, Japan, and several African countries, may have been contaminated, meaning hundreds of millions more may have been exposed to SV40.
In 1998, the National Cancer Institute undertook a large study, using cancer case information from the institute's SEER database. The published findings from the study revealed no increased incidence of cancer in persons who may have received vaccine containing SV40. Another large study in Sweden examined cancer rates of 700,000 individuals who had received potentially contaminated polio vaccine as late as 1957; the study again revealed no increased cancer incidence between persons who received polio vaccines containing SV40 and those who did not. The question of whether SV40 causes cancer in humans remains controversial, however, and the development of improved assays for detection of SV40 in human tissues will be needed to resolve the controversy.
During the race to develop an oral polio vaccine, several large-scale human trials were undertaken. By 1958, the National Institutes of Health had determined that OPV produced using the Sabin strains were the safest. Between 1957 and 1960, however, Hilary Koprowski continued to administer his vaccine around the world. In Africa, the vaccines were administered to roughly one million people in the Belgian territories (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Burundi). The results of these human trials have been controversial, and unfounded accusations in the 1990s arose that the vaccine had created the conditions necessary for transmission of simian immunodeficiency virus from chimpanzees to humans, causing HIV/AIDS. These hypotheses, however, have been conclusively refuted. By 2004, cases of poliomyelitis in Africa had been reduced to just a small number of isolated regions in the western portion of the continent, with sporadic cases elsewhere. Recent local opposition to vaccination campaigns have evolved due to lack of adequate information, often relating to fears that the vaccine might induce sterility. The disease has since resurged in Nigeria and in several other African nations without necessary information, which epidemiologists believe is due to refusals by certain local populations to allow their children to receive the polio vaccine.
The Salk vaccine, IPV, is based on three wild, virulent reference strains, Mahoney (type 1 poliovirus), MEF-1 (type 2 poliovirus), and Saukett (type 3 poliovirus), grown in a type of monkey kidney tissue culture (Vero cell line), which are then inactivated with formalin. The injected Salk vaccine confers IgG-mediated immunity in the bloodstream, which prevents polio infection from progressing to viremia and protects the motor neurons, thus eliminating the risk of bulbar polio and post-polio syndrome.
OPV is an attenuated vaccine, produced by the passage of the virus through nonhuman cells at a subphysiological temperature, which produces spontaneous mutations in the viral genome. Oral polio vaccines were developed by several groups, one of which was led by Albert Sabin. Other groups, led by Hilary Koprowski and H.R. Cox, developed their own attenuated vaccine strains. In 1958, the National Institutes of Health created a special committee on live polio vaccines. The various vaccines were carefully evaluated for their ability to induce immunity to polio, while retaining a low incidence of neuropathogenicity in monkeys. Large-scale clinical trials performed in the Soviet Union in late 1950s to early 1960s by Mikhail Chumakov and his colleagues demonstrated safety and high efficacy of the vaccine. Based on these results, the Sabin strains were chosen for worldwide distribution. Fifty-seven nucleotide substitutions distinguish the attenuated Sabin 1 strain from its virulent parent (the Mahoney serotype), two nucleotide substitutions attenuate the Sabin 2 strain, and 10 substitutions are involved in attenuating the Sabin 3 strain. The primary attenuating factor common to all three Sabin vaccines is a mutation located in the virus's internal ribosome entry site, which alters stem-loop structures and reduces the ability of poliovirus to translate its RNA template within the host cell. The attenuated poliovirus in the Sabin vaccine replicates very efficiently in the gut, the primary site of infection and replication, but is unable to replicate efficiently within nervous system tissue. In 1961, type 1 and 2 monovalent oral poliovirus vaccine (MOPV) was licensed, and in 1962, type 3 MOPV was licensed. In 1963, trivalent OPV (TOPV) was licensed, and became the vaccine of choice in the United States and most other countries of the world, largely replacing the inactivated polio vaccine. A second wave of mass immunizations led to a further dramatic decline in the number of polio cases. Between 1962 and 1965, about 100 million Americans (roughly 56% of the population at that time) received the Sabin vaccine. The result was a substantial reduction in the number of poliomyelitis cases, even from the much-reduced levels following the introduction of the Salk vaccine.
OPV is usually provided in vials containing 10–20 doses of vaccine. A single dose of oral polio vaccine (usually two drops) contains 1,000,000 infectious units of Sabin 1 (effective against PV1), 100,000 infectious units of the Sabin 2 strain, and 600,000 infectious units of Sabin 3. The vaccine contains small traces of antibiotics—neomycin and streptomycin—but does not contain preservatives.
In a generic sense, vaccination works by priming the immune system with an 'immunogen'. Stimulating immune response, by use of an infectious agent, is known as immunization. The development of immunity to polio efficiently blocks person-to-person transmission of wild poliovirus, thereby protecting both individual vaccine recipients and the wider community.
The development of two polio vaccines led to the first modern mass inoculations. The last cases of paralytic poliomyelitis caused by endemic transmission of wild virus in the United States occurred in 1979, with an outbreak among the Amish in several Midwest states.
Two separate teams, led by John Kolmer and Maurice Brodie respectively, developed polio vaccines and reported their results at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association in November 1935. Despite promising results, both were cancelled as a result of the angry reaction from other researchers, as vaccinated children had died in both studies; no researchers dared attempt a polio vaccine for another 20 years.
Professor John Kolmer, MD (1886–1962), of Temple University in Philadelphia, presented his findings first. He had developed an attenuated poliovirus vaccine, which he tested in about 10,000 children across much of the United States and Canada. Five of these children died of polio and 10 more were paralyzed, usually in the arm where the vaccine was injected, and frequently affecting children in towns where no polio outbreak had occurred. He had no control group, but asserted that many more children would have gotten sick. The response from other researchers was uncharacteristically blunt; one of them directly called Kolmer a murderer.
Maurice Brodie, MD (1903–1939), a young researcher at New York University and the New York City Health Department, presented his results afterwards, but the feelings of the researchers were already unfavorable before he started because of Kolmer's report. Brodie and his team had prepared a formaldehyde-killed poliovirus vaccine, testing it first on himself and five co-workers, and eventually on 7,500 children and adults, with another 4,500 people serving as a control group. In the control group, Brodie reported that one out of 900 developed polio; in the group receiving the vaccine, only one out of 7,500 developed polio, making the vaccine 88% effective during the first year. However, other researchers believed that the one case was likely caused by the vaccine, and two more possible cases were reported later.
After this meeting, Brodie, whose polio vaccine was at least partially effective and reasonably safe, and who developed several ground-breaking ideas about vaccination whose validity was confirmed two decades later with the development of the Salk vaccine, was immediately fired and had trouble finding employment again. Brodie died three and a half years later. Kolmer, an established researcher whose vaccine was unsafe and probably ineffective, kept his job, was given a second appointment as professor of medicine at the Temple University School of Dentistry the next year, continued to publish research papers, and received multiple awards throughout his academic career.
A breakthrough came in 1948 when a research group headed by John Enders at the Children's Hospital Boston successfully cultivated the poliovirus in human tissue in the laboratory. This group had recently successfully grown mumps in cell culture. In March 1948, Thomas H. Weller was attempting to grow varicella virus in embryonic lung tissue. He had inoculated the planned number of tubes when he noticed that there were a few unused tubes. He retrieved a sample of mouse brain infected with polio virus and added it to the remaining test tubes, on the off chance that the virus might grow. The varicella cultures failed to grow, but the polio cultures were successful.
This development greatly facilitated vaccine research and ultimately allowed for the development of vaccines against polio. Enders and his colleagues, Thomas H. Weller and Frederick C. Robbins, were recognized in 1954 for their labors with a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Other important advances that led to the development of polio vaccines were: the identification of three poliovirus serotypes (Poliovirus type 1 – PV1, or Mahoney; PV2, Lansing; and PV3, Leon); the finding that prior to paralysis, the virus must be present in the blood; and the demonstration that administration of antibodies in the form of gamma globulin protects against paralytic polio.
1955 newspaper headlines on the development of an effective polio vaccine
During the early 1950s, polio rates in the U.S. were above 25,000 annually; in 1952 and 1953, the U.S. experienced an outbreak of 58,000 and 35,000 polio cases, respectively, up from a typical number of some 20,000 a year, with deaths in those years numbering 3,200 and 1,400. Amid this U.S. polio epidemic, millions of dollars were invested in finding and marketing a polio vaccine by commercial interests, including Lederle Laboratories in New York under the direction of H. R. Cox. Also working at Lederle was Polish-born virologist and immunologistHilary Koprowski of the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia, who tested the first successful polio vaccine, in 1950. His vaccine, however, being a live attenuated virus taken orally, was still in the research stage and would not be ready for use until five years after Jonas Salk's polio vaccine (a dead-virus injectable vaccine) had reached the market. Koprowski's attenuated vaccine was prepared by successive passages through the brains of Swiss albino mice. By the seventh passage, the vaccine strains could no longer infect nervous tissue or cause paralysis. After one to three further passages on rats, the vaccine was deemed safe for human use. On 27 February 1950, Koprowski's live, attenuated vaccine was tested for the first time on an 8-year-old boy living at Letchworth Village, an institution for the physically and mentally disabled located in New York. After the child suffered no side effects, Koprowski enlarged his experiment to include 19 other children.
Administration of the polio inoculation, including by Salk himself, in 1957 at the University of Pittsburgh, where his team and he had developed the vaccine
Mass polio vaccination in Columbus, Georgia circa 1961 for the National Polio Immunization Program
The first effective polio vaccine was developed in 1952 by Jonas Salk and a team at the University of Pittsburgh that included Julius Youngner, Byron Bennett, L. James Lewis, and Lorraine Friedman, which required years of subsequent testing. Salk went on CBS radio to report a successful test on a small group of adults and children on 26 March 1953; two days later, the results were published in JAMA.Leone N. Farrell invented a key laboratory technique that enabled the mass production of the vaccine by a team she led in Toronto. Beginning 23 February 1954, the vaccine was tested at Arsenal Elementary School and the Watson Home for Children in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Salk's vaccine was then used in a test called the Francis Field Trial, led by Thomas Francis, the largest medical experiment in history at that time. The test began with about 4,000 children at Franklin Sherman Elementary School in McLean, Virginia, and eventually involved 1.8 million children, in 44 states from Maine to California. By the conclusion of the study, roughly 440,000 received one or more injections of the vaccine, about 210,000 children received a placebo, consisting of harmless culture media, and 1.2 million children received no vaccination and served as a control group, who would then be observed to see if any contracted polio.
The results of the field trial were announced 12 April 1955 (the tenth anniversary of the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose paralytic illness was generally believed to have been caused by polio). The Salk vaccine had been 60–70% effective against PV1 (poliovirus type 1), over 90% effective against PV2 and PV3, and 94% effective against the development of bulbar polio. Soon after Salk's vaccine was licensed in 1955, children's vaccination campaigns were launched. In the U.S, following a mass immunization campaign promoted by the March of Dimes, the annual number of polio cases fell from 35,000 in 1953 to 5,600 by 1957. By 1961 only 161 cases were recorded in the United States.
In April 1955, soon after mass polio vaccination began in the US, the Surgeon General began to receive reports of patients who contracted paralytic polio about a week after being vaccinated with Salk polio vaccine from Cutter pharmaceutical company, with the paralysis limited to the limb the vaccine was injected into. In response the Surgeon General pulled all polio vaccine made by Cutter Laboratories from the market, but not before 250 cases of paralytic illness had occurred. Wyeth polio vaccine was also reported to have paralyzed and killed several children.
It was soon discovered that some lots of Salk polio vaccine made by Cutter and Wyeth had not been properly inactivated, allowing live poliovirus into more than 100,000 doses of vaccine. In May 1955, the National Institutes of Health and Public Health Services established a Technical Committee on Poliomyelitis Vaccine to test and review all polio vaccine lots and advise the Public Health Service as to which lots should be released for public use. These incidents reduced public confidence in polio vaccine leading to a drop in vaccination rates.
At the same time that Salk was testing his vaccine, both Albert Sabin and Hilary Koprowski continued working on developing a vaccine using live virus. During a meeting in Stockholm to discuss polio vaccines in November 1955, Sabin presented results obtained on a group of 80 volunteers, while Koprowski read a paper detailing the findings of a trial enrolling 150 people. Sabin and Koprowski both eventually succeeded in developing vaccines. Because of the commitment to the Salk vaccine in America, Sabin and Koprowski both did their testing outside the United States, Sabin in Mexico and the Soviet Union, Koprowski in the Congo and Poland. In 1957, Sabin developed a trivalent vaccine containing attenuated strains of all three types of poliovirus. In 1959, ten million children in the Soviet Union received the Sabin oral vaccine. For this work, Sabin was given the medal of the Order of Friendship Among Peoples, described as the Soviets' highest civilian honor, despite having become an American during the height of the cold war. Sabin's oral vaccine using live virus came into commercial use in 1961.
Once Sabin's oral vaccine became widely available, it supplanted Salk's injected vaccine, which had been tarnished in the public's opinion by the Cutter incident, in which Salk vaccines prepared by one company resulted in several children dying or becoming paralyzed.
An enhanced-potency IPV was licensed in the United States in November 1987, and is currently the vaccine of choice there. The first dose of polio vaccine is given shortly after birth, usually between 1 and 2 months of age, and a second dose is given at 4 months of age. The timing of the third dose depends on the vaccine formulation, but should be given between 6 and 18 months of age. A booster vaccination is given at 4 to 6 years of age, for a total of four doses at or before school entry. In some countries, a fifth vaccination is given during adolescence. Routine vaccination of adults (18 years of age and older) in developed countries is neither necessary nor recommended because most adults are already immune and have a very small risk of exposure to wild poliovirus in their home countries. In 2002, a pentavalent (five-component) combination vaccine (called Pediarix) containing IPV was approved for use in the United States.
A Somali boy is injected with inactivated poliovirus vaccine (Mogadishu, 1993)
Polio was eliminated in the Americas by 1994. The disease was officially eliminated in 36 Western Pacific countries, including China and Australia, in 2000. Europe was declared polio-free in 2002. Since January 2011, no cases of the disease have been reported in India, hence in February 2012, the country was taken off the WHO list of polio-endemic countries. In March 2014, India was declared a polio-free country.
Although poliovirus transmission has been interrupted in much of the world, transmission of wild poliovirus does continue and creates an ongoing risk for the importation of wild poliovirus into previously polio-free regions. If importations of poliovirus occur, outbreaks of poliomyelitis may develop, especially in areas with low vaccination coverage and poor sanitation. As a result, high levels of vaccination coverage must be maintained. In November 2013, the WHO announced a polio outbreak in Syria. In response, the Armenian government put out a notice asking Syrian Armenians under age 15 to get the polio vaccine. As of 2014, polio virus had spread to 10 countries, mainly in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, with Pakistan, Syria, and Cameroon advising vaccinations to outbound travelers.
Polio vaccination programs have received resistance from some people in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria (the three countries as of 2017 with remaining polio cases). Some Muslim religious leaders believe that the vaccines are secretly being used for sterilization of Muslims. The fact that the CIA organized a fake vaccination program in 2011 to help find Osama Bin Laden is an additional cause of distrust. In 2015, the WHO announced a deal with the Taliban to encourage them to distribute the vaccine in areas they control. However, the Pakistani Taliban is not so supportive. On 11 September 2016, two unidentified gunmen associated with the Pakistani Taliban, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, shot Zakaullah Khan, a doctor who was administering polio vaccines in Pakistan. The leader of the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar claimed responsibility for the shooting and says that the group will continue to keep doing these kinds of attacks. This resistance to and skepticism of vaccinations has consequently slowed down the polio eradication process within the three remaining countries.
Society and culture
The wholesale cost is about US$0.25 per dose for the oral form as of 2014. The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization supplies the inactivated vaccine to developing countries for as little as €0.75 (about US$0.88) per dose in 10-dose vials. In the United States, the inactivated form costs between $25 and $50.
A misconception has been present in Pakistan that polio vaccine contained haram ingredients and could cause impotence and infertility in male children, leading some parents not to have their children vaccinated. This belief is most common in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and the FATA region. Attacks on polio vaccination teams have also occurred, thereby hampering international efforts to eradicate polio in Pakistan and globally, since the virus can be carried by travelers.
^Smith DR, Leggat PA (2005). "Pioneering figures in medicine: Albert Bruce Sabin – inventor of the oral polio vaccine". The Kurume Medical Journal. 52 (3): 111–16. doi:10.2739/kurumemedj.52.111. PMID16422178.
^World Health Organization (2019). World Health Organization model list of essential medicines: 21st list 2019. Geneva: World Health Organization. hdl:10665/325771. WHO/MVP/EMP/IAU/2019.06. License: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.
^ ab"Poliomyelitis prevention: recommendations for use of inactivated poliovirus vaccine and live oral poliovirus vaccine. American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Infectious Diseases". Pediatrics. 99 (2): 300–05. February 1997. doi:10.1542/peds.99.2.300. PMID9024465.
^Eddy BE, Borman GS, Berkeley WH, Young RD (May 1961). "Tumors induced in hamsters by injection of rhesus monkey kidney cell extracts". Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine. Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine. 107: 191–97. doi:10.3181/00379727-107-26576. PMID13725644. S2CID31275908.
^Strickler HD, Rosenberg PS, Devesa SS, Hertel J, Fraumeni JF, Goedert JJ (January 1998). "Contamination of poliovirus vaccines with simian virus 40 (1955–1963) and subsequent cancer rates". JAMA. 279 (4): 292–95. doi:10.1001/jama.279.4.292. PMID9450713.
^Olin P, Giesecke J (1998). "Potential exposure to SV40 in polio vaccines used in Sweden during 1957: no impact on cancer incidence rates 1960 to 1993". Developments in Biological Standardization. 94: 227–33. PMID9776244.
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Many thousands of written fragments have been discovered in the Dead Sea area. They represent the remnants of larger manuscripts damaged by natural causes or through human interference, with the vast majority holding only small scraps of text. However, a small number of well-preserved, almost intact manuscripts have survived – fewer than a dozen among those from the Qumran Caves. Researchers have assembled a collection of 981 different manuscripts – discovered in 1946/47 and in 1956 – from 11 caves. The 11 Qumran Caves lie in the immediate vicinity of the Hellenistic-period Jewish settlement at Khirbet Qumran in the eastern Judaean Desert, in the West Bank. The caves are located about one mile (1.6 kilometres) west of the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, whence they derive their name. Scholarly consensus dates the Qumran Caves Scrolls from the last three centuries BCE and the first century CE. Bronze coins found at the same sites form a series beginning with John Hyrcanus (in office 135–104 BCE) and continuing until the period of the First Jewish–Roman War (66–73 CE), supporting the radiocarbon and paleographic dating of the scrolls.
In the larger sense, the Dead Sea Scrolls include manuscripts from additional Judaean Desert sites, dated as early as the 8th century BCE and as late as the 11th century CE.
Biblical texts older than the Dead Sea Scrolls have been discovered only in two silver scroll-shaped amulets containing portions of the Priestly Blessing from the Book of Numbers, excavated in Jerusalem at Ketef Hinnom and dated c. 600 BCE; some scholars also include the controversial Shapira Scroll. The third-oldest surviving known piece of the Torah, the En-Gedi Scroll, consists of a portion of Leviticus found in the Ein Gedi synagogue, burnt in the 6th century CE and analyzed in 2015. Research has dated it palaeographically to the 1st or 2nd century CE, and using the C14 method to sometime between the 2nd and 4th centuries CE.
Archaeologists have long associated the scrolls with the ancient Jewish sect called the Essenes, although some recent interpretations have challenged this connection and argue that priests in Jerusalem, or Zadokites, or other unknown Jewish groups wrote the scrolls.
Owing to the poor condition of some of the scrolls, scholars have not identified all of their texts. The identified texts fall into three general groups:
Qumran cave 4, where ninety percent of the scrolls were found
The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in a series of twelve caves around the site originally known as the "Ein Feshkha Caves" near the Dead Sea in the West Bank (then part of Jordan) between 1946 and 1956 by Bedouin shepherds and a team of archeologists. The practice of storing worn-out sacred manuscripts in earthenware vessels buried in the earth or within caves is related to the ancient Jewish custom of Genizah.
Initial discovery (1946–1947)
The initial discovery by Bedouin shepherd Muhammed edh-Dhib, his cousin Jum'a Muhammed, and Khalil Musa, took place between November 1946 and February 1947. The shepherds discovered seven scrolls (See Scrolls and fragments) housed in jars in a cave near what is now known as the Qumran site. John C. Trever reconstructed the story of the scrolls from several interviews with the Bedouin. Edh-Dhib's cousin noticed the caves, but edh-Dhib himself was the first to actually fall into one (the cave now called Cave 1). He retrieved a handful of scrolls, which Trever identifies as the Isaiah Scroll, Habakkuk Commentary, and the Community Rule, and took them back to the camp to show to his family. None of the scrolls were destroyed in this process. The Bedouin kept the scrolls hanging on a tent pole while they figured out what to do with them, periodically taking them out to show to their people. At some point during this time, the Community Rule was split in two. The Bedouin first took the scrolls to a dealer named Ibrahim 'Ijha in Bethlehem. 'Ijha returned them, saying they were worthless, after being warned that they might have been stolen from a synagogue. Undaunted, the Bedouin went to a nearby market, where a Syrian Christian offered to buy them. A sheikh joined their conversation and suggested they take the scrolls to Khalil Eskander Shahin, "Kando", a cobbler and part-time antiques dealer. The Bedouin and the dealers returned to the site, leaving one scroll with Kando and selling three others to a dealer for 7 Jordanian pounds (approximately $28, or $321 in 2019 dollars). The original scrolls continued to change hands after the Bedouin left them in the possession of a third party until a sale could be arranged. (See Ownership.)
Early in September 1948, Metropolitan bishop Mar Samuel brought some additional scroll fragments that he had acquired to Professor Ovid R. Sellers, the new Director of ASOR. By the end of 1948, nearly two years after their discovery, scholars had yet to locate the original cave where the fragments had been found. With unrest in the country at that time, no large-scale search could be undertaken safely. Sellers tried to get the Syrians to assist in the search for the cave, but he was unable to pay their price. In early 1949, the government of Jordan gave permission to the Arab Legion to search the area where the original Qumran cave was thought to be. Consequently, Cave 1 was rediscovered on 28 January 1949, by Belgian United Nationsobserver Captain Phillipe Lippens and Arab Legion Captain Akkash el-Zebn.
Qumran caves rediscovery and new scroll discoveries (1949–1951)
A view of the Dead Sea from a cave at Qumran in which some of the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered.
The rediscovery of what became known as "Cave 1" at Qumran prompted the initial excavation of the site from 15 February to 5 March 1949 by the Jordanian Department of Antiquities led by Gerald Lankester Harding and Roland de Vaux. The Cave 1 site yielded discoveries of additional Dead Sea Scroll fragments, linen cloth, jars, and other artifacts.
Excavations of Qumran and new cave discoveries (1951–1956, 2017)
In November 1951, Roland de Vaux and his team from the ASOR began a full excavation of Qumran. By February 1952, the Bedouin had discovered 30 fragments in what was to be designated Cave 2. The discovery of a second cave eventually yielded 300 fragments from 33 manuscripts, including fragments of Jubilees and the Wisdom of Sirach written in Hebrew. The following month, on 14 March 1952, the ASOR team discovered a third cave with fragments of Jubilees and the Copper Scroll. Between September and December 1952 the fragments and scrolls of Caves 4, 5, and 6 were subsequently discovered by the ASOR teams.
With the monetary value of the scrolls rising as their historical significance was made more public, the Bedouins and the ASOR archaeologists accelerated their search for the scrolls separately in the same general area of Qumran, which was over 1 kilometer in length. Between 1953 and 1956, Roland de Vaux led four more archaeological expeditions in the area to uncover scrolls and artifacts. Cave 11 was discovered in 1956 and yielded the last fragments to be found in the vicinity of Qumran.
Caves 4–10 are clustered in an area lying in relative proximity 160 yards (ca. 150 metres) from Khirbet Qumran, while caves 1, 2, 3 and 11 are located 1 mile (1–2 kilometres) North, with Cave 3 being the most remote.
In February 2017, Hebrew University archaeologists announced the discovery of a new, 12th cave. There was one blank parchment found in a jar; however, broken and empty scroll jars and pickaxes suggest that the cave was looted in the 1950s.
The 972 manuscripts found at Qumran were found primarily in two separate formats: as scrolls and as fragments of previous scrolls and texts. In the fourth cave the fragments were torn into up to 15,000 pieces. These small fragments created somewhat of a problem for scholars. G.L. Harding, director of the Jordanian Department of Antiquities, began working on piecing the fragments together but did not finish this before his death in 1979.
4Q7, a fragment of the book of Genesis found in Cave 4
Cave 4 was discovered in August 1952, and was excavated on 22–29 September 1952 by Gerald Lankester Harding, Roland de Vaux, and Józef Milik. Cave 4 is actually two hand-cut caves (4a and 4b), but since the fragments were mixed, they are labeled as 4Q. Cave 4 is the most famous of Qumran caves both because of its visibility from the Qumran plateau and its productivity. It is visible from the plateau to the south of the Qumran settlement. It is by far the most productive of all Qumran caves, producing ninety percent of the Dead Sea Scrolls and scroll fragments (approx. 15,000 fragments from 500 different texts), including 9–10 copies of Jubilees, along with 21 tefillin and 7 mezuzot.
Dead Sea Scroll fragments 7Q4, 7Q5, and 7Q8 from Cave 7 in Qumran, written on papyrus.
Cave 7 yielded fewer than 20 fragments of Greek documents, including 7Q2 (the "Letter of Jeremiah" = Baruch 6), 7Q5 (which became the subject of much speculation in later decades), and a Greek copy of a scroll of Enoch. Cave 7 also produced several inscribed potsherds and jars.
Lists of groups of fragments collected from Wadi Qumran Cave 7:
Cave 8, along with caves 7 and 9, was one of the only caves that are accessible by passing through the settlement at Qumran. Carved into the southern end of the Qumran plateau, cave 8 was excavated by archaeologists in 1957.
Cave 8 produced five fragments: Genesis (8QGen), Psalms (8QPs), a tefillin fragment (8QPhyl), a mezuzah (8QMez), and a hymn (8QHymn). Cave 8 also produced several tefillin cases, a box of leather objects, tons of lamps, jars, and the sole of a leather shoe.
List of groups of fragments collected from Wadi Qumran Cave 8:
Cave 9, along with caves 7 and 8, was one of the only caves that are accessible by passing through the settlement at Qumran. Carved into the southern end of the Qumran plateau, Cave 9 was excavated by archaeologists in 1957. There was only one fragment found in Cave 9.
A view of part of the Temple Scroll that was found in Qumran Cave 11.
Cave 11 was discovered in 1956 and yielded 21 texts, some of which were quite long. The Temple Scroll, so called because more than half of it pertains to the construction of the Temple of Jerusalem, was found in Cave 11, and is by far the longest scroll. It is now 26.7 feet (8.15 m) long. Its original length may have been over 28 feet (8.75 m). The Temple Scroll was regarded by Yigael Yadin as "The Torah According to the Essenes". On the other hand, Hartmut Stegemann, a contemporary and friend of Yadin, believed the scroll was not to be regarded as such, but was a document without exceptional significance. Stegemann notes that it is not mentioned or cited in any known Essene writing.
According to former chief editor of the DSS editorial team John Strugnell, there are at least four privately owned scrolls from Cave 11, that have not yet been made available for scholars. Among them is a complete Aramaic manuscript of the Book of Enoch.
List of groups of fragments collected from Wadi Qumran Cave 11:
A unique Psalms scroll with only about a quarter of the Masoretic psalms (in atypical order), three Syriac psalms, one from Ben Sira, and the only known copies of three more unique psalms—Plea for Deliverance, Apostrophe to Zion, and Hymn to the Creator—all of which are unattested by other sources, as well as the short text of David's Compositions.
Cave 12 was discovered in February 2017 on cliffs west of Qumran, near the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea. Archaeological examination found pickaxes and empty broken scroll jars, indicating that the cave had been discovered and looted in the 1950s. One of the joint Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Liberty University of Virginia project's lead researchers, Dr. Oren Gutfeld, stated, "Although at the end of the day no scroll was found, and instead we 'only' found a piece of parchment rolled up in a jug that was being processed for writing, the findings indicate beyond any doubt that the cave contained scrolls that were stolen."
Fragments with unknown provenance
Some fragments of scrolls have neither significant archaeological provenance nor records that reveal in which designated Qumran cave area they were found. They are believed to have come from Wadi Qumran caves, but are just as likely to have come from other archaeological sites in the Judaean Desert area. These fragments have therefore been designated to the temporary "X" series.
A portion of the second discovered copy of the Isaiah scroll, 1QIsab.
Part of Dead Sea Scroll 28a from Qumran Cave 1. The Jordan Museum, Amman
Dead Sea Scroll, Pesher Isaiah, from Qumran Cave 4. The Jordan Museum, Amman
Dead Sea Scroll 175, Testimonia, from Qumran Cave 4. The Jordan Museum, Amman
Dead Sea Scroll 109, Qohelet or Ecclesiastes, from Qumran Cave 4. The Jordan Museum, Amman
Dead Sea Scrolls at the Jordan Museum in Amman
Strips of the Copper Dead Sea Scroll at the Jordan Museum, from Qumran Cave 3, 1st century CE
Strip 11 of the Copper Dead Sea Scroll, from Qumran Cave 3, Jordan Museum
Strip 15 of the Copper Dead Sea Scroll, from Qumran Cave 3, Jordan Museum
Strip 13 of the Copper Dead Sea Scroll, from Qumran Cave 3, Jordan Museum
Strips 1 and 2 of the Copper Dead Sea Scroll, from Qumran Cave 3, Jordan Museum
Dead Sea Scroll 109, Qohelet or Ecclesiastes, from Qumran Cave 4, the Jordan Museum in Amman
Dead Sea Scroll 109, Qohelet or Ecclesiastes, from Qumran Cave 4, at the Jordan Museum in Amman
Dead Sea Scroll, Pesher Isaiah, from Qumran Cave 4, the Jordan Museum in Amman
Dead Sea Scroll 175, Testimonia, from Qumran Cave 4, the Jordan Museum in Amman
Detail, Dead Sea Scroll 175, Testimonia, from Qumran Cave 4, the Jordan Museum in Amman
Dead Sea Scroll 28a from Qumran Cave 1, the Jordan Museum in Amman
Part of Dead Sea Scroll 28a from Qumran Cave 1, the Jordan Museum in Amman
Part of Dead Sea Scroll 28a from Qumran Cave 1, at the Jordan Museum in Amman
Dead Sea Scroll fragment 5/6HEV PS found in the Cave of Letters at Nahal Hever
There has been much debate about the origin of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The dominant theory remains that the scrolls were the product of a sect of Jews living at nearby Qumran called the Essenes, but this theory has come to be challenged by several modern scholars.
The view among scholars, almost universally held until the 1990s, is the "Qumran–Essene" hypothesis originally posited by Roland Guérin de Vaux and Józef Tadeusz Milik, though independently both Eliezer Sukenik and Butrus Sowmy of St Mark's Monastery connected scrolls with the Essenes well before any excavations at Qumran. The Qumran–Essene theory holds that the scrolls were written by the Essenes, or by another Jewish sectarian group, residing at Khirbet Qumran. They composed the scrolls and ultimately hid them in the nearby caves during the Jewish Revolt sometime between 66 and 68 CE. The site of Qumran was destroyed and the scrolls never recovered.
A number of arguments are used to support this theory.
There are striking similarities between the description of an initiation ceremony of new members in the Community Rule and descriptions of the Essene initiation ceremony mentioned in the works of Flavius Josephus – a Jewish–Roman historian of the Second Temple Period.
Josephus mentions the Essenes as sharing property among the members of the community, as does the Community Rule.
During the excavation of Khirbet Qumran, two inkwells and plastered elements thought to be tables were found, offering evidence that some form of writing was done there. More inkwells were discovered nearby. De Vaux called this area the "scriptorium" based upon this discovery.
Several Jewish ritual baths (Hebrew: miqvah = מקוה) were discovered at Qumran, offering evidence of an observant Jewish presence at the site.
Pliny the Elder (a geographer writing after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE) describes a group of Essenes living in a desert community on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea near the ruined town of 'Ein Gedi.
Qumran–Sectarian theories are variations on the Qumran–Essene theory. The main point of departure from the Qumran–Essene theory is hesitation to link the Dead Sea Scrolls specifically with the Essenes. Most proponents of the Qumran–Sectarian theory understand a group of Jews living in or near Qumran to be responsible for the Dead Sea Scrolls, but do not necessarily conclude that the sectarians are Essenes.
A specific variation on the Qumran–Sectarian theory that has gained much recent popularity is the work of Lawrence H. Schiffman, who proposes that the community was led by a group of Zadokite priests (Sadducees). The most important document in support of this view is the "Miqsat Ma'ase Ha-Torah" (4QMMT), which cites purity laws (such as the transfer of impurities) identical to those attributed in rabbinic writings to the Sadducees. 4QMMT also reproduces a festival calendar that follows Sadducee principles for the dating of certain festival days.
Some scholars have argued that the scrolls were the product of Jews living in Jerusalem, who hid the scrolls in the caves near Qumran while fleeing from the Romans during the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE. Karl Heinrich Rengstorf first proposed that the Dead Sea Scrolls originated at the library of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. Later, Norman Golb suggested that the scrolls were the product of multiple libraries in Jerusalem, and not necessarily the Jerusalem Temple library. Proponents of the Jerusalem Origin theory point to the diversity of thought and handwriting among the scrolls as evidence against a Qumran origin of the scrolls. Several archaeologists have also accepted an origin of the scrolls other than Qumran, including Yizhar Hirschfeld and more recently Yizhak Magen and Yuval Peleg, who all understand the remains of Qumran to be those of a Hasmonean fort that was reused during later periods.
Fragments 1 and 2 of '7Q6' from Cave 7 are written on papyrus.
Parchment from a number of the Dead Sea Scrolls has been carbon dated. The initial test performed in 1950 was on a piece of linen from one of the caves. This test gave an indicative dating of 33 CE plus or minus 200 years, eliminating early hypotheses relating the scrolls to the medieval period. Since then two large series of tests have been performed on the scrolls themselves. The results were summarized by VanderKam and Flint, who said the tests give "strong reason for thinking that most of the Qumran manuscripts belong to the last two centuries BCE and the first century CE.":32
Analysis of letter forms, or palaeography, was applied to the texts of the Dead Sea Scrolls by a variety of scholars in the field. Major linguistic analysis by Cross and Avigad dates fragments from 225 BCE to 50 CE. These dates were determined by examining the size, variability, and style of the text. The same fragments were later analyzed using radiocarbon dating and were dated to an estimated range of 385 BCE to 82 CE with a 68% accuracy rate.
Ink and parchment
The scrolls were analyzed using a cyclotron at the University of California, Davis, where it was found that all black ink was carbon black. The red ink on the scrolls was found to be made with cinnabar (HgS, mercury sulfide). There are only four uses of this red ink in the entire collection of Dead Sea Scroll fragments. The black inks found on the scrolls that are made up of carbon soot were found to be from olive oil lamps. Honey, oil, vinegar, and water were often added to the mixture to thin the ink to a proper consistency for writing. In order to apply the ink to the scrolls, its writers used reed pens.
The Dead Sea scrolls were written on parchment made of processed animal hide known as vellum (approximately 85.5–90.5% of the scrolls), papyrus (estimated at 8.0–13.0% of the scrolls), and sheets of bronze composed of about 99.0% copper and 1.0% tin (approximately 1.5% of the scrolls). For those scrolls written on animal hides, scholars with the Israeli Antiquities Authority, by use of DNA testing for assembly purposes, believe that there may be a hierarchy in the religious importance of the texts based on which type of animal was used to create the hide. Scrolls written on goat and calf hides are considered by scholars to be more significant in nature, while those written on gazelle or ibex are considered to be less religiously significant in nature.
Two of the pottery jars that held some of the Dead Sea Scrolls found at Qumran.
Two Dead Sea Scrolls jars at the Jordan Museum, Amman
The Dead Sea Scrolls that were found were originally preserved by the dry, arid, and low humidity conditions present within the Qumran area adjoining the Dead Sea. In addition, the lack of the use of tanning materials on the parchment of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the very low airflow in the Qumran caves also contributed significantly to their preservation. Some of the scrolls were found stored in clay jars within the Qumran caves, further helping to preserve them from deterioration. The original handling of the scrolls by archaeologists and scholars was done inappropriately, and, along with their storage in an uncontrolled environment, they began a process of more rapid deterioration than they had experienced at Qumran. During the first few years in the late 1940s and early 1950s, adhesive tape used to join fragments and seal cracks caused significant damage to the documents. The Government of Jordan had recognized the urgency of protecting the scrolls from deterioration and the presence of the deterioration among the scrolls. However, the government did not have adequate funds to purchase all the scrolls for their protection and agreed to have foreign institutions purchase the scrolls and have them held at their museum in Jerusalem until they could be "adequately studied".
In early 1953, they were moved to the Palestine Archaeological Museum (commonly called the Rockefeller Museum) in East Jerusalem and through their transportation suffered more deterioration and damage.:63–65 The museum was underfunded and had limited resources with which to examine the scrolls, and, as a result, conditions of the "scrollery" and storage area were left relatively uncontrolled by modern standards. The museum had left most of the fragments and scrolls lying between window glass, trapping the moisture in with them, causing an acceleration in the deterioration process. During a portion of the conflict during the 1956 war waged by Israel, Britain and France against Egypt, the scrolls collection of the Palestine Archaeological Museum was stored in the vault of the Ottoman Bank in Amman, Jordan. Damp conditions from temporary storage of the scrolls in the Ottoman Bank vault from 1956 to the Spring of 1957 led to a more rapid rate of deterioration of the scrolls. The conditions caused mildew to develop on the scrolls and fragments, and some fragments were partially destroyed or made illegible by the glue and paper of the manila envelopes in which they were stored while in the vault. By 1958 it was noted that up to 5% of some of the scrolls had completely deteriorated. Many of the texts had become illegible and many of the parchments had darkened considerably.
Until the 1970s, the scrolls continued to deteriorate because of poor storage arrangements, exposure to different adhesives, and being trapped in moist environments. Fragments written on parchment (rather than papyrus or bronze) in the hands of private collectors and scholars suffered an even worse fate than those in the hands of the museum, with large portions of fragments being reported to have disappeared by 1966. In the late 1960s, the deterioration was becoming a major concern with scholars and museum officials alike. Scholars John Allegro and Sir Francis Frank were among the first to strongly advocate for better preservation techniques. Early attempts made by both the British and Israel Museums to remove the adhesive tape ended up exposing the parchment to an array of chemicals, including "British Leather Dressing," and darkening some of them significantly. In the 1970s and 1980s, other preservation attempts were made that included removing the glass plates and replacing them with cardboard and removing pressure against the plates that held the scrolls in storage; however, the fragments and scrolls continued to rapidly deteriorate during this time.
In 1991, the Israeli Antiquities Authority established a temperature-controlled laboratory for the storage and preservation of the scrolls. The actions and preservation methods of Rockefeller Museum staff were concentrated on the removal of tape, oils, metals, salt, and other contaminants. The fragments and scrolls are preserved using acid-free cardboard and stored in solander boxes in the climate-controlled storage area.
Nine tiny phylactery slips were rediscovered by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) in 2014, after they had been stored unopened for six decades following their excavation in 1952. The IAA is preparing to unroll the phylacteries or tefillin once a safe procedure has been decided upon.
Photography and assembly
Since the Dead Sea Scrolls were initially held by different parties during and after the excavation process, they were not all photographed by the same organization.
First photographs by the American Schools of Oriental Research (1948)
The first individual person to photograph a portion of the collection was John C. Trever (1916–2006), a Biblical scholar and archaeologist, who was a resident for the American Schools of Oriental Research.:68 He photographed three of the scrolls discovered in Cave 1 on 21 February 1948, both on black-and-white and standard color film.:26 Although an amateur photographer, the quality of his photographs often exceeded the visibility of the scrolls themselves as, over the years, the ink of the texts quickly deteriorated after they were removed from their linen wrappings.
Infrared photography and plate assembly by the Palestine Archaeological Museum (1952–1967)
A majority of the collection from the Qumran caves was acquired by the Palestine Archaeological Museum. The Museum had the scrolls photographed by Najib Albina, a local Arab photographer trained by Lewis Larsson of the American Colony in Jerusalem, Between 1952 and 1967, Albina documented the five-stage process of the sorting and assembly of the scrolls, done by the curator and staff of the Palestine Archaeological Museum, using infrared photography. Using a process known today as broadband fluorescence infrared photography, or NIR photography, Najib and the team at the Museum produced over 1,750 photographic plates of the scrolls and fragments.:68 The photographs were taken with the scrolls laid out on animal skin, using large format film, which caused the text to stand out, making the plates especially useful for assembling fragments.:68 These are the earliest photographs of the museum's collection, which was the most complete in the world at the time, and they recorded the fragments and scrolls before their further decay in storage, so they are often considered the best recorded copies of the scrolls.
Israel Antiquities Authority and NASA digital infrared imaging (1993–2012)
A previously unreadable fragment of the Dead Sea Scrolls photographed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory using digital infrared technology. Translated into English it reads: "He wrote the words of Noah."
Beginning in 1993, the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration used digital infrared imaging technology to produce photographs of Dead Sea Scrolls fragments. In partnership with the Ancient Biblical Manuscript Center and West Semitic Research, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory successfully worked to expand on the use of infrared photography previously used to evaluate ancient manuscripts by expanding the range of spectra at which images are photographed. NASA used this multi-spectral imaging technique, adapted from its remote sensing and planetary probes, in order to reveal previously illegible text on fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The process uses a liquid crystal tunable filter in order to photograph the scrolls at specific wavelengths of light and, as a result, image distortion is significantly diminished. This method was used with select fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls to reveal text and details that cameras that take photographs using a larger light spectrum could not reveal. The camera and digital imaging assembly was developed specifically for the purpose of photographing illegible ancient texts.
On 18 December 2012 the first output of this project was launched together with Google on the dedicated site Deadseascrolls.org.il. The site contains both digitizations of old images taken in the 1950s and about 1000 new images taken with the new NASA technology.
Israel Antiquities Authority and DNA scroll assembly (2006–2020)
Scientists with the Israeli Antiquities Authority have used DNA from the parchment on which the Dead Sea Scrolls fragments were written, in concert with infrared digital photography, to assist in the reassembly of the scrolls. For scrolls written on parchment made from animal hide and papyrus, scientists with the museum are using DNA code to associate fragments with different scrolls and to help scholars determine which scrolls may hold greater significance based on the type of material that was used. In a paper published in 2020 in the journal Cell, researchers from Tel Aviv University have shown that ancient DNA extracted from the ancient scrolls can be used to sort different scroll fragments not only based on the animal species but also based on variations in the nuclear genome of individual fragments. This effort enabled the researchers to match different fragments to each other based on their genetics and separate fragments which were falsely connected in the past. 
Israel Museum of Jerusalem and Google digitization project (2011–2016)
In partnership with Google, the Museum of Jerusalem is working to photograph the Dead Sea Scrolls and make them available to the public digitally, although not placing the images in the public domain. The lead photographer of the project, , and his team are utilizing the Alpa 12 MAX camera accompanied with a Leaf Aptus-II back in order to produce ultra-high resolution digital images of the scrolls and fragments. With photos taken at 1,200 megapixels, the results are digital images that can be used to distinguish details that are invisible to the naked eye. In order to minimize damage to the scrolls and fragments, photographers are using a 1/4000th of a second exposure time and UV-protected flash tubes. The digital photography project was estimated in 2011 to cost approximately 3.5 million U.S. dollars.
After most of the scrolls and fragments were moved to the Palestine Archaeological Museum in 1953, scholars began to assemble them and log them for translation and study in a room that became known as the "Scrollery".
Scholars assembling Dead Sea Scrolls fragments at the Rockefeller Museum (formerly the Palestine Archaeological Museum).
Some of the fragments and scrolls were published early. Most of the longer, more complete scrolls were published soon after their discovery. All the writings in Cave 1 appeared in print between 1950 and 1956; those from eight other caves were released in 1963; and 1965 saw the publication of the Psalms Scroll from Cave 11. Their translations into English soon followed.
Publication of the scrolls has taken many decades, and delays have been a source of academic controversy. The scrolls were controlled by a small group of scholars headed by John Strugnell, while a majority of scholars had access neither to the scrolls nor even to photographs of the text. Scholars such as Norman Golb, publishers and writers such as Hershel Shanks, and many others argued for decades for publishing the texts, so that they become available to researchers. This controversy only ended in 1991, when the Biblical Archaeology Society was able to publish the "Facsimile Edition of the Dead Sea Scrolls", after an intervention of the Israeli government and the Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA). In 1991 Emanuel Tov was appointed as the chairman of the Dead Sea Scrolls Foundation, and publication of the scrolls followed in the same year.
The majority of the scrolls consist of tiny, brittle fragments, which were published at a pace considered by many to be excessively slow. During early assembly and translation work by scholars through the Rockefeller Museum from the 1950s through the 1960s, access to the unpublished documents was limited to the editorial committee.
Discoveries in the Judaean Desert (1955–2009)
Emanuel Tov, who was Editor-in-Chief of the Dead Sea Scrolls Publication Project and, as a result, responsible for the publication of 32 volumes of the Discoveries in the Judaean Desert series. He also worked to publish a six-volume printed edition with a majority of the non-Biblical Dead Sea Scrolls and make the same volumes available electronically on CD in a collection titled "The Dead Sea Scrolls Reader".
The content of the scrolls was published in a 40 volume series by Oxford University Press published between 1955 and 2009 known as Discoveries in the Judaean Desert. In 1952 the Jordanian Department of Antiquities assembled a team of scholars to begin examining, assembling, and translating the scrolls with the intent of publishing them. The initial publication, assembled by Dominique Barthélemy and Józef Milik, was published as Qumran Cave 1 in 1955. After a series of other publications in the late 1980s and early 1990s and with the appointment of the respected Dutch–Israeli textual scholar Emanuel Tov as Editor-in-Chief of the Dead Sea Scrolls Publication Project in 1990 publication of the scrolls accelerated. Tov's team had published five volumes covering the Cave 4 documents by 1995. Between 1990 and 2009, Tov helped the team produce 32 volumes. The final volume, Volume XL, was published in 2009.
A Preliminary Edition of the Unpublished Dead Sea Scrolls (1991)
In 1991, researchers at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Martin Abegg, announced the creation of a computer program that used previously published scrolls to reconstruct the unpublished texts. Officials at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, led by Head Librarian William Andrew Moffett, announced that they would allow researchers unrestricted access to the library's complete set of photographs of the scrolls. In the fall of that year, Wacholder published 17 documents that had been reconstructed in 1988 from a concordance and had come into the hands of scholars outside of the International Team; in the same month, there occurred the discovery and publication of a complete set of facsimiles of the Cave 4 materials at the Huntington Library. Thereafter, the officials of the Israel Antiquities Authority agreed to lift their long-standing restrictions on the use of the scrolls.
A Facsimile Edition of the Dead Sea Scrolls (1991)
After further delays, attorney William John Cox undertook representation of an "undisclosed client", who had provided a complete set of the unpublished photographs, and contracted for their publication. Professors Robert Eisenman and James Robinson indexed the photographs and wrote an introduction to , which was published by the Biblical Archaeology Society in 1991. Following the publication of the Facsimile Edition, Professor Elisha Qimron sued Hershel Shanks, Eisenman, Robinson and the Biblical Archaeology Society for copyright infringement for publishing, without authorization or attribution, his decipherment of one of the scrolls, MMT. The District Court of Jerusalem found in favor of Qimron in September 1993. The Court issued a restraining order, which prohibited the publication of the deciphered text, and ordered defendants to pay Qimron NIS 100,000 for infringing his copyright and the right of attribution. Defendants appealed the Supreme Court of Israel, which approved the District Court's decision, in August 2000. The Supreme Court further ordered that the defendants hand over to Qimron all the infringing copies. The decision met Israeli and international criticism from copyright law scholars.
The Facsimile Edition by Facsimile Editions Ltd, London, England (2007–2008)
In November 2007 the commissioned the London publisher, , to produce a facsimile edition of The Great Isaiah Scroll (1QIsa), The Order of the Community (1QS), and The Pesher to Habakkuk (1QpHab). The facsimile was produced from 1948 photographs, and so more faithfully represents the condition of the Isaiah scroll at the time of its discovery than does the current condition of the real Isaiah scroll.
Of the first three facsimile sets, one was exhibited at the Early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition in Seoul, South Korea, and a second set was purchased by the British Library in London. A further 46 sets including facsimiles of three fragments from Cave 4 (now in the collection of the National Archaeological Museum in Amman, Jordan) Testimonia (4Q175), Pesher Isaiahb (4Q162) and Qohelet (4Q109) were announced in May 2009. The edition is strictly limited to 49 numbered sets of these reproductions on either specially prepared parchment paper or real parchment. The complete facsimile set (three scrolls including the Isaiah scroll and the three Jordanian fragments) can be purchased for $60,000.
The facsimiles have since been exhibited in Qumrân. Le secret des manuscrits de la mer Morte at the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, France (2010) and Verbum Domini at the Vatican, Rome, Italy (2012).
The text of almost all of the non-Biblical texts from the Dead Sea Scrolls was released on CD-ROM by publisher E.J. Brill in 2005. The 2400 page, 6 volume series, was assembled by an editorial team led by Donald W. Parry and Emanuel Tov. Unlike the text translations in the physical publication, Discoveries in the Judaean Desert, the texts are sorted by genres that include religious law, parabiblical texts, calendrical and sapiental texts, and poetic and liturgical works.
Israel Antiquities Authority and Google digitization project (2010–2016)
High-resolution images, including infrared photographs, of some of the Dead Sea scrolls are now available online on two dedicated websites.
On 19 October 2010, it was announced that Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA) would scan the documents using multi-spectral imaging technology developed by NASA to produce high-resolution images of the texts, and then, through a partnership with Google, make them available online free of charge, on a searchable database and complemented by translation and other scholarly tools. The project is scheduled for completion within five years.
On 25 September 2011 the Israel Museum Digital Dead Sea Scrolls site went online. It gives users access to searchable, high-resolution images of the scrolls, as well as short explanatory videos and background information on the texts and their history. As of May 2012, five complete scrolls from the Israel Museum have been digitized for the project and are now accessible online: the Great Isaiah Scroll, the Community Rule Scroll, the Commentary on Habakkuk Scroll, the Temple Scroll, and the War Scroll.
Before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest Hebrew-language manuscripts of the Bible were Masoretic texts dating to the 10th century CE, such as the Aleppo Codex. Today, the oldest known extant manuscripts of the Masoretic Text date from approximately the 9th century. The biblical manuscripts found among the Dead Sea Scrolls push that date back a full thousand years, to the 2nd century BCE. This was a significant discovery for Old Testament scholars who anticipated that the Dead Sea Scrolls would either affirm or repudiate the reliability of textual transmission from the original texts to the oldest Masoretic texts at hand. The discovery demonstrated the unusual accuracy of transmission over a thousand-year period, rendering it reasonable to believe that current Old Testament texts are reliable copies of the original works.
According to The Dead Sea Scrolls by Hebrew scholar Millar Burrows,
Of the 166 words in Isaiah 53, there are only seventeen letters in question. Ten of these letters are simply a matter of spelling, which does not affect the sense. Four more letters are minor stylistic changes, such as conjunctions. The remaining three letters comprise the word "light," which is added in verse 11, and does not affect the meaning greatly.
It is important to note that differences were found among fragments of texts. According to The Oxford Companion to Archaeology:
While some of the Qumran biblical manuscripts are nearly identical to the Masoretic, or traditional, Hebrew text of the Old Testament, some manuscripts of the books of Exodus and Samuel found in Cave Four exhibit dramatic differences in both language and content. In their astonishing range of textual variants, the Qumran biblical discoveries have prompted scholars to reconsider the once-accepted theories of the development of the modern biblical text from only three manuscript families: of the Masoretic text, of the Hebrew original of the Septuagint, and of the Samaritan Pentateuch. It is now becoming increasingly clear that the Old Testament scripture was extremely fluid until its canonization around A.D. 100.
The majority of the texts found among the Dead Sea Scrolls are non-biblical in nature and were thought to be insignificant for understanding the composition or canonization of the Biblical books, but a different consensus has emerged which sees many of these works as being collected by the Essene community instead of being composed by them. Scholars now recognize that some of these works were composed earlier than the Essene period, when some of the Biblical books were still being written or redacted into their final form.
Strip of the Copper Scroll from Qumran Cave 3 written in the Hebrew Mishnaic dialect, on display at the Jordan Museum, Amman
Small portions of the Dead Sea Scrolls collections have been put on temporary display in exhibitions at museums and public venues around the world. The majority of these exhibitions took place in 1965 in the United States and the United Kingdom and from 1993 to 2011 in locations around the world. Many of the exhibitions were co-sponsored by either the Jordanian government (pre-1967) or the Israeli government (post-1967). Exhibitions were discontinued after 1965 due to the Six-Day War conflicts and have slowed down in post-2011 as the Israeli Antiquities Authority works to digitize the scrolls and place them in permanent cold storage.
The majority of the Dead Sea Scrolls collection was moved to Jerusalem's Shrine of the Book (a part of the Israel Museum) after the building's completion in April 1965. The museum falls under the auspices of the Israel Antiquities Authority, an official agency of the Israeli government. The permanent Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition at the museum features a reproduction of the Great Isaiah Scroll, surrounded by reproductions of other famous fragments that include Community Rule, the War Scroll, and the Thanksgiving Psalms Scroll.
Some of the Dead Sea Scrolls collection held by the Jordanian government prior to 1967 was stored in Amman rather than at the Palestine Archaeological Museum in East Jerusalem. As a consequence, that part of the collection remained in Jordanian hands under their Department of Antiquities. In 2013 parts of this collection have been put on display at The Jordan Museum in Amman, to which they were moved from the Jordan Archaeological Museum. Among the display items are artifacts from the Qumran site and the Copper Scroll.
Advertisement in the Wall Street Journal dated 1 June 1954 for four of the "Dead Sea Scrolls."
Arrangements with the Bedouin left the scrolls in the hands of a third party until a profitable sale of them could be negotiated. That third party, , was a member of the Syriac Orthodox Church, who soon contacted St Mark's Monastery in the hope of getting an appraisal of the nature of the texts. News of the find then reached Metropolitan Athanasius Yeshue Samuel, better known as Mar Samuel. After examining the scrolls and suspecting their antiquity, Mar Samuel expressed an interest in purchasing them. Four scrolls found their way into his hands: the now famous Isaiah Scroll (1QIsaa), the Community Rule, the Habakkuk Pesher (a commentary on the book of Habakkuk), and the Genesis Apocryphon. More scrolls soon surfaced in the antiquities market, and Professor Eleazer Sukenik and Professor Benjamin Mazar, archaeologists at Hebrew University, soon found themselves in possession of three, The War Scroll, Thanksgiving Hymns, and another, more fragmented, Isaiah scroll (1QIsab).
Four of the Dead Sea Scrolls eventually went up for sale in an advertisement in 1 June 1954, Wall Street Journal. On 1 July 1954, the scrolls, after delicate negotiations and accompanied by three people including the Metropolitan, arrived at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York. They were purchased by Professor Mazar and the son of Professor Sukenik, Yigael Yadin, for $250,000 (approximately $2,400,000 in 2019 dollars), and brought to Jerusalem.
Since 2002, forgeries of alleged Dead Sea Scrolls have appeared on black markets.
Almost all of the Dead Sea Scrolls collection is currently owned by Israel, and housed in the Shrine of the Book on the grounds of the Israel Museum. This ownership is contested by both Jordan and by the Palestinian Authority.
A list of known ownership of Dead Sea Scroll fragments:
Alleges that the Dead Sea Scrolls were stolen from the Palestine Archaeological Museum (now the Rockefeller Museum) operated by Jordan from 1966 until the Six-Day War when advancing Israeli forces took control of the Museum, and that therefore they fall under the rules of the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. Jordan regularly demands their return and petitions third-party countries that host the scrolls to return them to Jordan instead of to Israel, claiming they have legal documents that prove Jordanian ownership of the scrolls.
Disputant; Current Majority Owner
After the Six-Day War Israel seized the scrolls and moved them to the Shrine of the Book in the Israel Museum. Israel disputes Jordan's claim and states that Jordan never lawfully possessed the scrolls since it was an unlawful occupier of the museum and region.
In 2009, a part of the Dead Sea Scrolls collection held by the Israeli Antiquities Authority was moved and displayed at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada. Both the Palestinian Authority and Jordan petitioned the international community, including the United Nations, for the scrolls to be seized under disputed international law. Ottawa dismissed the demands and the exhibit continued, with the scrolls returning to Israel upon its conclusion.
A planned exhibition in Germany was cancelled, as the German government could not guarantee a return of the scrolls to Israel 
There are three types of documents relating to the Dead Sea Scrolls in which copyright status can be considered ambiguous; the documents themselves, images taken of the documents, and reproductions of the documents. This ambiguity arises from differences in copyright law across different countries and the variable interpretation of such law.
In 1992 a copyright case Qimron v. Shanks was brought before the Israeli District court by scholar Elisha Qimron against Hershel Shanks of the Biblical Archaeology Society for violations of United States copyright law regarding his publishing of reconstructions of Dead Sea Scroll texts done by Qimron in A Facsimile Edition of the Dead Sea Scrolls which were included without his permission. Qimron's suit against the Biblical Archaeology Society was done on the grounds that the research they had published was his intellectual property as he had reconstructed about 40% of the published text. In 1993, the district court Judge Dalia Dorner ruled for the plaintiff, Elisha Qimron, in context of both United States and Israeli copyright law and granted the highest compensation allowed by law for aggravation in compensation against Hershel Shanks and others. In an appeal in 2000 in front of Judge Aharon Barak, the verdict was upheld in Israeli Supreme Court in Qimron's favor. The court case established the two main principles from which facsimiles are examined under copyright law of the United States and Israel: authorship and originality.
The court's ruling not only affirms that the "deciphered text" of the scrolls can fall under copyright of individuals or groups, but makes it clear that the Dead Sea Scrolls themselves do not fall under this copyright law and scholars have a degree of, in the words of U.S. copyright law professor David Nimmer, "freedom" in access. Nimmer has shown how this freedom was in the theory of law applicable, but how it did not exist in reality as the Israeli Antiquities Authority tightly controlled access to the scrolls and photographs of the scrolls.
^Buitenwerf, Rieuwerd, The Gog and Magog Tradition in Revelation 20:8, in, H. J. de Jonge, Johannes Tromp, eds., The book of Ezekiel and its influence, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2007, p.172; scheduled to be published in Charlesworth's edition, volume 9
^Stegemann, Hartmut. "The Qumran Essenes: Local Members of the Main Jewish Union in Late Second Temple Times." pp. 83–166 in The Madrid Qumran Congress: Proceedings of the International Congress on the Dead Sea Scrolls, Madrid, 18–21 March 1991, Edited by J. Trebolle Barrera and L. Vegas Montaner. Vol. 11 of Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah. Leiden: Brill, 1992.
^de Vaux, Roland, Archaeology and the Dead Sea Scrolls (Schweich Lectures of the British Academy, 1959). Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1973.
^Milik, Józef Tadeusz, Ten Years of Discovery in the Wilderness of Judea, London: SCM, 1959.
^For Sowmy, see: Trever, John C., The Untold Story of Qumran, (Westwood: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1965), p. 25.
^Schiffman, Lawrence H., Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls: their True Meaning for Judaism and Christianity, Anchor Bible Reference Library (Doubleday) 1995.
^O'Callaghan–Martínez, Josep, Cartas Cristianas Griegas del Siglo V, Barcelona: E. Balmes, 1963.
^Enste, Stefan. (2000). Kein Markustext in Qumran: Eine Untersuchung der These; Qumran-Fragment 7Q5 = Mk 6, 52–53 (No Mark text: an enquiry of the thesis; Qumran fragment 7Q5 = Gospel of Mark 6: 52–53). Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. ISBN 978-3-525-53945-3
^Eisenman, Robert H. James, the Brother of Jesus: The Key to Unlocking the Secrets of Early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls. 1st American ed. New York: Viking, 1997.
^Israel Antiquities Authority Personnel Records. Dated 1952 and 1960
^Verhoeven, G. (2008). "Imaging the invisible using modified digital still cameras for straightforward and low-cost archaeological near-infrared photography". Journal of Archaeological Science. 35 (12): 3087–3100. doi:10.1016/j.jas.2008.06.012.
^Dorrell, Peter G. Photography in Archaeology and Conservation 2nd Edition. 1994
^American Schools of Oriental Research. The Biblical Archaeologist. Volumes 55–56. 1992.
^Shanks, Hershel. Freeing the Dead Sea Scrolls: And Other Adventures of an Archaeology Outsider (2010)
^Rezetko, Robert (2013). "The Qumran Scrolls of the Book of Judges: Literary Formation, Textual Criticism, and Historical Linguistics". Journal of Hebrew Scriptures. 13 (2): 9. doi:10.5508/jhs.2013.v13.a2.
Abegg, Jr., Martin, Peter Flint, and Eugene Ulrich, The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible: The Oldest Known Bible Translated for the First Time into English, San Francisco: Harper, 2002. ISBN 0-06-060064-0, (contains the biblical portion of the scrolls)
Galor, Katharina, Jean-Baptiste Humbert, and Jürgen Zangenberg. Qumran: The Site of the Dead Sea Scrolls: Archaeological Interpretations and Debates: Proceedings of a Conference held at Brown University, 17–19 November 2002, Edited by Florentino García Martínez, Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah 57. Leiden: Brill, 2006.
García-Martinez, Florentino, The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated: The Qumran Texts in English, (Translated from Spanish into English by Wilfred G. E. Watson) (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1994).
Khabbaz, C., "Les manuscrits de la mer Morte et le secret de leurs auteurs", Beirut, 2006. (Ce livre identifie les auteurs des fameux manuscrits de la mer Morte et dévoile leur secret).
Magen, Yizhak, and Yuval Peleg, The Qumran Excavations 1993–2004: Preliminary Report, JSP 6 (Jerusalem: Israel Antiquities Authority, 2007) Download
Magen, Yizhak, and Yuval Peleg, "Back to Qumran: Ten years of Excavations and Research, 1993–2004," in The Site of the Dead Sea Scrolls: Archaeological Interpretations and Debates (Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah 57), Brill, 2006 (pp. 55–116).
Magness, Jodi, The Archaeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002.
Maier, Johann, The Temple Scroll, [German edition was 1978], (Sheffield:JSOT Press [Supplement 34], 1985).
Muro, E. A., "The Greek Fragments of Enoch from Qumran Cave 7 (7Q4, 7Q8, &7Q12 = 7QEn gr = Enoch 103:3–4, 7–8)." Revue de Qumran 18, no. 70 (1997): 307, 12, pl. 1.
O'Callaghan-Martínez, Josep, Cartas Cristianas Griegas del Siglo V, Barcelona: E. Balmes, 1963.
Qimron, Elisha, The Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Harvard Semitic Studies, 1986. (This is a serious discussion of the Hebrew language of the scrolls.)
Rengstorf, Karl Heinrich, Hirbet Qumran und die Bibliothek vom Toten Meer, Translated by J. R. Wilkie. Stuttgart: W. Kohlhammer, 1960.
Roitman, Adolfo, ed. A Day at Qumran: The Dead Sea Sect and Its Scrolls. Jerusalem: The Israel Museum, 1998.
Sanders, James A., ed. Dead Sea scrolls: The Psalms scroll of Qumrân Cave 11 (11QPsa), (1965) Oxford, Clarendon Press.
Schiffman, Lawrence H., Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls: their True Meaning for Judaism and Christianity, Anchor Bible Reference Library (Doubleday) 1995, ISBN 0-385-48121-7, (Schiffman has suggested two plausible theories of origin and identity – a Sadducean splinter group, or perhaps an Essene group with Sadducean roots.) Excerpts of this book can be read at COJS: Dead Sea Scrolls.
Schiffman, Lawrence H., and James C. VanderKam, eds. Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls. 2 vols. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.
Shanks, Hershel, The Mystery and Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Vintage Press 1999, ISBN 0-679-78089-0 (recommended introduction to their discovery and history of their scholarship)
Stegemann, Hartmut. "The Qumran Essenes: Local Members of the Main Jewish Union in Late Second Temple Times." pp. 83–166 in The Madrid Qumran Congress: Proceedings of the International Congress on the Dead Sea Scrolls, Madrid, 18–21 March 1991, Edited by J. Trebolle Barrera and L. Vegas Mountainer. Vol. 11 of Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah. Leiden: Brill, 1992.
Thiede, Carsten Peter, The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Jewish Origins of Christianity, Palgrave 2000, ISBN 0-312-29361-5
Thiering, Barbara, Jesus and the Riddle of the Dead Sea Scrolls (ISBN 0-06-067782-1), New York: Harper Collins, 1992
VanderKam, James C., The Dead Sea Scrolls Today, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994.
Vermes, Geza, The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English, London: Penguin, 1998. ISBN 0-14-024501-4 (good translation, but complete only in the sense that he includes translations of complete texts, but neglects fragmentary scrolls and more especially does not include biblical texts.) (7th ed. 2011 ISBN 978-0-14-119731-9)
Wise, Michael O., Martin Abegg, Jr., and Edward Cook, The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation, (1996), Harper San Francisco paperback 1999, ISBN 0-06-069201-4, (contains the non-biblical portion of the scrolls, including fragments)
Yadin, Yigael. The Temple Scroll: The Hidden Law of the Dead Sea Sect, New York: Random House, 1985.
Dead Sea Scrolls Study Vol 1: 1Q1 – 4Q273, Vol. 2: 4Q274 – 11Q31, (compact disc), Logos Research Systems, Inc., (contains the non-biblical portion of the scrolls with Hebrew and Aramaic transcriptions in parallel with English translations)