The largest collection of biblical artifacts ever displayed outside of Israel, including 20 Dead Sea Scrolls, made their debut today at New York’s Discovery Times Square Exposition.
The exhibition, entitled “Dead Sea Scrolls: Life and Faith in Biblical Times,” hopes to create a “fascinating archaeological journey through the Holy Land.”
Its titular centerpiece, the Dead Sea Scrolls, are sections of biblical books written on frayed pieces of parchment and papyrus.
Discovered between 1947 and 1956, the scrolls, which are written in Hebrew, Greek, and Aramic, are considered among the greatest archeological discoveries of the 20th century. More than 15,000 Dead Sea Scrolls were found and then pieced together into readable manuscripts by scholars.
The scrolls, which are considered the oldest known version of the Hebrew bible, had been on display in the Israel Museum since 1966.
Adolfo Rotiman, the Lizbeth and George Krupp curator of the Dead Sea Scrolls at the Israel Museum, said that the scrolls “give us new perspective about ancient life, society, and thought,” and that they “promote interfaith dialogue and an understanding between all human beings.”
Many believe the Dead Sea Scrolls are the best window into both the history of Judaism and the birth of Christianity.
"In order to truly understand the profound effect this material has had on our understanding of the development of Judaism and Christianity, it is necessary to journey back in time, not just to the period in which the Dead Sea Scrolls were written and copied, but also back to the time when the texts of the Bible were first composed," Risa Levitt Kohn, one of the exhibition's curators, told Discovery News.
Among the other artifacts on display is a scale recreation of a section of the Western Wall, which uses an authentic three-ton stone from the Jerusalem landmark. Also on display is a 3,000-year-old ivory dove and one of the oldest depictions of the menorah in existence.
"These ancient objects are not just distant relics, but artifacts that can speak to us, almost like voices from the past. They can inform us about a tremendously important period in history and one that has had a huge impact of the development of western culture," Levitt Kohn said.
Tickets will cost $19.50 for children and $25.00 for adults.
James Sanna, CEO of Discovery Times Square, said, "This unique new exhibit embodies the best that Discovery Times Square has to offer—quality, historical stories that are brought to life right in front of visitors' eyes. We are proud and excited to bring this exhibit to New York City as the world premiere."
After its time in New York, the exhibit will move to Philadelphia’s The Franklin Institute beginning in May 2012.