The Conservation of the Copper Scroll

By George J. Brooke

Sidebar to: Hyrcania’s Mysterious Tunnels

The two original rolls of the Copper Scroll that were found at Qumran in Cave 3 proved almost impossible to unroll. Finally, they were sawed into 23 strips in Manchester, England, one in 1955 and the other in 1956. As the sawing progressed, at each turn the back of the scroll was carefully prepared by cleaning it and applying a coat of adhesive to hold the fragile remains in place. After cutting, the inner surfaces of each strip were also cleaned and then washed with a chemical solution to seal the surface.

Although this has since been acknowledged as the best job that could have been done at the time, the deterioration of the scroll was not arrested, as was highlighted in an unpublished study by Andrew Oddy in 1977.

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