Today, The Leonardo Museum unveils the largest collection of artifacts to ever leave Israel.
Dead Sea Scrolls: Life and Faith in Ancient Times will be on display at the museum through April 27.
“It’s the largest undertaking we as a museum have taken on,” says Alexandra Hesse, executive director of The Leonardo, adding the museum is one of the few in the country chosen to showcase the artifacts.
The Dead Sea Scrolls, first discovered by Muhammad edh-Dahib, a Bedouin shepherd, and two companions near the Dead Sea in 1947, and excavated through 1956, include the earliest-known copies of Old Testament text.
Carbon-14 dating has shown the 972 documents archaeologists uncovered were written between 120 BC and 68 AD.
Guests at The Leonardo can see 20 of the extremely rare scroll fragments from the biblical books Deuteronomy, Psalms, Exodus, Isaiah and more, along with more than 500 objects from Israeli history, like a two-ton stone from the Western Wall, pottery and currency.
“Our connections with Utah are very deep,” says David Siegel, consul general of Israel. He adds Gov. Gary Herbert recently met with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on a trade mission, which helped lead to the exhibit.
“Not everyone can make it to Israel,” Siegel says. “And this is your chance to see it right here.”
Here is some of what we saw in the exhibit:
One of the scrolls on display at the exhibit. Translations are provided.
A Tyrian shekel. Laureate head of Melquarth in his Hellenized form as Hercules, minted before 19 BC.
Arrowheads from the Iron Age II.
Muslim pottery from the 10th century AD.
Incense alters from the seventh century BC
Round pottery Gorgon mask applique intended for hanging on a wooden sarcophagus from the 4th to 3rd century BC.
Grindstones and ancient cookware from the Iron Age II.
The exhibit also highlights the work of Brigham Young University scholars, who have made important contributions to the translation and study of the scrolls, in a compendium exhibit, Unlocking the Past.
A partnership with the Israel Antiquities Authority helped make the exhibit possible.
The Leo is also planning a film series, book club, lectures and family activity nights connected to the exhibit.
For more info on the exhibit and the events surrounding it, visit theleonardo.org.