About the Shrine of the Book in the Israel MuseumIn the Israel Museum is the Shrine of the Book, built in 1965, and its purpose is to preserve and display the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Qumran Scrolls.
The shrine has a unique design, which over the years has become a symbol of the city.
This is a treasure for the Jewish people. In the shrine are hand written ancient writings, very rare and special, especially the Dead Sea Scrolls -the most important archeological findings of the 20th century.
The scrolls are extremely delicate, what makes displaying them for a long period of time very problematic. So, each each scroll is displayed for a few months, up to six, and then it is replaced by another, and the first scroll is put into storage, to let it 'rest' from its exposer to light.
Near the shrine is a very specific model of Jerusalem from the period of the Second Temple. The model gives a connection between the hand written scrolls and the history of Israel. There are many treasures here, like the Aleppo Codex, a precise and authoritative manuscript written in Tiberias in the 10th century CE.
Through these texts, these scrolls give us information about the lives of the big Jewish communities of past who wrote them.
What are the Dead Sea Scrolls?The Dead Sea Scrolls, also called the Qumran Scrolls and the Judean Desert Scrolls, seem to be the greatest archeological discovery to be made in Israel.
The first scrolls were discovered inside ceramic vases in a cave near the Quman ruins, on the north west cliffs of the Dead Sea, in the Judean Desert. The one who discovered them was Mohammed a-Deeb, a Bedouin shepard, who was looking for a lost sheep, in 1947, and saw the vase with three scrolls inside. From 1947 up to 1958, hundreds of scrolls were found in other caves in the same area.
These are scrolls that contain texts from Biblical books, or other books that were not included in the Bible called external books. Other scrolls contained identities and letters, mostly written about Papyrus.
Researchers estimate that these scrolls were written between the 3rd century BC and the 1st century, right before the destruction of the Second Temple in the year 70 CE. They are considered the earliest Hebrew texts that have ever been discovered.
The Structure's ArchitectureThe original purpose of the structure was to preserve and display the first seven scrolls to have been found in 1947 in the Qumran. It was designed in the 1960's as a building with the feeling of a shrine, and was opened in 1965. It is considered a stepping stone towards modern architecture.
The building's design was made by Jewish-American architects Armand Bartos and Frederick Kiesler. They decided to design the building, with a white dome-like top, a reminder of the vase covers the scrolls were found in. The white color contrasts with the black wall put next to it, what fits with the description about the "sons of light," as these writer's saw themselves, against the "sons of darknss," their enemies. The corridor on the way to the entrance reminds a cave, again reminding the location of the scrolls.
The structure is located next to impressive and official places for the State of Israel, like the Knesset, Government buildings, and the National Library, indicating the importance of the scrolls, and the structure that contains them.