This exhibition includes rotating examples of the rare and precious Dead Sea Scroll fragments in addition to artifacts spanning over 5,000 years, from the Chalcolithic Age (4,000 B.C.) to the Fatimid Period (11th century A.D.). The Dead Sea Scrolls are one of the greatest archaeological discoveries in history. Uncovered by Bedouin herders and excavated by archaeologists in caves along the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea, fragments of the scrolls were pieced together to form more than 800 documents, many of them Biblical and Apocryphal manuscripts. All of the treasures on view are on loan from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), and most have never been seen outside of Israel.
This small-scale exhibition is the first in a series, and provides an introduction to future joint exhibitions with the IAA. Highlights among the nearly 50 objects include funerary ossuaries, cultic altars from the Canaanite period, Roman glass vessels, a mosaic from a Byzantine monastery in Jerusalem, and gold coins and jewelry from Tiberias dating to the Fatimid Period. On display for the first time anywhere is a newly excavated and restored glass table with gold foil from a Byzantine villa. The first Dead Sea Scroll on view is from the Book of Psalms, one of the best-preserved biblical examples and dates to the 1st century A.D.
Exhibitions are an important aspect of a curatorial department. The Ancient Art Department has organized and mounted over the years exhibitions showcasing art from different ancient cultures in the Mediterranean. Some of these exhibitions are also accompanied by scholarly catalogues written, edited, or with contributions by the curator in charge of Ancient Art and Interpretation, and published by the Publications Department. Exhibitions, like publications, fulfill the fundamental commitment of the Department to education, research, and scholarship.