Why are we so interested in this area? Several thousand years ago, the caves near Qumran provided shelter for the Jewish people. The scrolls written or copied by its inhabitants provide us with insight into unwritten chapters of history. The caves were used not only for shelter, but for such things as burial chambers, storehouses, places for scribal activity and as genizot - places to sequester holy scrolls that were no longer fit for use. During the revolts against Rome (ca. 70CE, 135CE) the caves were often used to hide from the Roman soldiers.
The caves therefore provide a window to the past. The richness of the finds - from the Dead Sea Scrolls to the Trove of Babata - and to what many believe to be the Ketoret (incense spices) used in the Temple in Jerusalem, fire the imagination and have inspired many throughout the world.
Prof. Amos Frumkin of Hebrew University has been exploring these caves throughout most of his career. Prof. Frumkin - and others - believe that although profound discoveries have been made, much more work remains to be done. Ideally, a regional survey of the caves should be undertaken.
In an effort to galvanise a broader research expedition, we have inaugurated the Qumran Cave Project. Our first modest goal was to ground-truth some of the previous work done at the site.
QUMRAN CAVE PROJECT
The Qumran Cave Project Group is a consortium of people who wish to initiate a full archaeological exploration of Qumran that includes each and every cave or tunnel. There are over 240 caves in Qumran and only a fraction of these caves have ever been excavated. It may come as a surprise to most readers, but the Dead Sea Scrolls were found merely by entering some of the caves and looking around. If something was buried beneath the surface, or not immediately visible, the cave was ignored. The things that were found using this simple approach were earth shaking, and the world is still cataloging and digesting the information contained in the numerous scrolls discovered over 60 years ago. The problem is that not much has happened since then and the excavation of those caves has languished, despite the fact that they are honeycombed with hidden rooms and tunnels.
Only last year, more scroll material was found, but it was the first such discovery since the original find because the area has been largely ignored. Although, we would hasten to add that it was never properly excavated to begin with. This, despite the fact that it is a veritable treasure trove of lost information that can answer many questions.
There are additional aspects as well. It is said, for example, and confirmed in several ancient documents, that Jeremiah the prophet and his five companions hid the treasures of the Temple somewhere in this area. The possibility of finding them is intriguing, and not beyond the realm of possibility.
Our motivation is academic, pure and simple. Our team consists of a core group of individuals mentioned on the home page, but many more from a variety of backgrounds. Each brings to the table his or her unique perspective, along with their area of expertise. We do everything according to the book and our work is subject to oversight by the proper authorities.
Our founder and one of our advisors is David Ben Avraham who has worked with numerous archaeologists in Israel. David is an avid student of ancient history and the evolution of religious belief, some of which is applied to the projects being advanced. Our managing director is Shlomo Pilo, who has had management experience in both Israel and the U.S. His area of expertise extends beyond mere management and includes among other things the skills required to effectively communicate project goals and assemble the necessary individuals with the qualifications to engage in projects of this magnitude. Our lead archaeologist is Dr. Oren Gutfeld, of Hebrew University. Dr. Gutfeld has made so many contributions to archaeology that it would be impossible to list them all, but they include the recent scroll discovery in cave #53 at Qumran. Other items included the material for writing them and jars for storing them. This resulted in the cave being officially redesignated as 12Q. Remote sensing is performed by Dr. Uri Basson at GeoSense. GeoSense is not only a project sponsor, but Dr. Basson has developed new forms of remote sensing that are considerably more advanced than the technology currently available. Media is handled by Zvika Kornfeld and Jim Long. Both have numerous film credits to their name. In addition to his own film accomplishments, Jim has produced segments for the BBC and Zvika was the founder of the Israel Defense Force’s cinematography division, making over 600 documentaries during his career. Our people volunteer their time so that 100% of the contributions QCP receives goes directly toward excavation expenses.
In addition to the core group mentioned above, we work with other archaeologists, geologists, and experts in a variety of professional fields or scientific disciplines. We are continually looking for good people who wish to help, and inquires are welcome.
The Teomot Cave Complex: 1967