The Dead Sea Scrolls are the greatest manuscript discovery of all time. They include the oldest copy of the biblical text and sectarian writings that inform us of religious life and practice in the time before and during the life of Jesus. First discovered in 1948 in caves near the Dead Sea, these manuscripts written in ink on parchment (animal skins) were usually found stored in clay jars. The exhibit contains exact reproductions of the Great Isaiah Scroll (ca. 125 BC) and several scrolls found with it in Cave 1 at Qumran. The cost of the set was $125,000, but a small fragment of an original scroll (about the size of a fingernail) can cost up to $1,000,000.
One significance of the Dead Sea scrolls is that they demonstrate how accurately the Bible was transmitted over time by the Jewish scribes (there is better than a 95% agreement between the Hebrew words of the Great Isaiah Scroll and the Hebrew Masoretic Text, from which our Old Testament was translated). This exhibit also includes a handwritten reproduction of the Temple Scroll, the longest of the Dead Sea scrolls (27 feet) and a replica Qumran scroll jar.