The scrolls, considered to be the most important archaeological find of the 20th century, have fired our imagination with the information they provide on the lifestyle of the ancient residents of Qumran.
Exhibition of archaeological items, and presentation of the history of Qumran: The visit to the site starts with the screening of a film on the history of Qumran. From the hall, visitors continue to a small museum illustrating the way of life at Qumran. The visit then continues along the path to the site itself, following the route of the aqueduct that collected the floodwater from Nachal Qumran.
Visit to the archaeological site: The buildings that have been uncovered at Qumran offer evidence of a communal lifestyle, and the path passes through meeting rooms, a central dining room (refectory) in which ceremonial meals were held, the remains of the kitchen, the watchtower, pottery workshops, and stables.
Particularly notable is the large number of ritual purification pools – a find that is in line with the meticulous approach to purification of the Qumran residents. There is a large concentration of purification pools by the dining room, where the people of Qumran gathered for communal meals.
In the two rooms of the scriptorium, pottery inkwells and a metal inkwell were found, which are particularly exciting because they may have been used by the residents of Qumran to write their texts. Hundreds of pottery lamps were found in these rooms, and by their light the people would write and study even at night.
To the east of the observation deck a cemetery was uncovered. It was built to the east of the settlement, and held some 1,100 graves, mainly of men. Burial was in trenches. The bodies were laid on their backs, arms by their sides, lying north to south.
Guided activity – night-time lamplight tours are held at the site, as well as dramatized tours reconstructing the discovery of the scrolls and the dramatic operation involved in purchasing them.
Qumran Park lies in the north of the Dead Sea Valley. For visitors coming from the north: travel south on Road 90 from Almog Junction, and turn right onto the access road to Kibbutz Kalya, then immediately left to the Qumran site.
The Nachal Qumran observation deck: overlooking Qumran Stream, Scrolls Cave no. 4 and the other caves, and the canyon of Qumran Stream, which arises from the Judean Desert bluff. Fortress lookout tower: the tower served as a lookout point and guard post against attack by nomads. It overlooks the Dead Sea Valley, He'etekim Cliff, and the hills of Moab.
Qumran National Park covers an area of 480 dunams. The remains of the settlement of Qumran are on display at the site, and the unique lifestyle of the Essene sect is illustrated by means of a film, exhibits, and other devices. The Dead Sea Scrolls contain considerable information for understanding the Biblical text and Jewish life at the time of the Second Temple and the New Testament.
Reasons for declaration:
Qumran lies in the north of the Dead Sea Valley, at the foot of the He'etekim Cliff. For those who saw the sect as a substitute for the Temple, this was an ideal location: although it was isolated, it was just one day's walk from Jerusalem.
The Qumran residents had two main sources of water: Eynot Tsukim – abundant springs rising 3 km south of Qumran, and Qumran Stream, which runs close to the settlement. The inhabitants of Qumran built reservoirs, to which they diverted some of the winter flood-waters flowing in the stream.
According to the finds at the site, they engaged in branches of agriculture such as growing dates and animal husbandry.
Some researchers propose identifying horvat Qumran with Sekaka, a place mentioned in the Bible. The town was in existence for some 200 years, from the 2nd century BCE until 68 CE – a stormy period in the life of the People of Israel. According to the finds, between 150 – 200 people lived there.
Qumran gained international renown thanks to the ancient writings found in a nearby cave. The scrolls are sections of some 800 books from Second Temple times – the earliest writings in Hebrew found in the Land of Israel – and also include the complete text of the Book of Isaiah.
From the texts that were found, and the finds at Qumran, some researchers have concluded that the inhabitants of Qumran were members of the Essene section, also called the Sons of the Desert sect, the Judean Desert sect, or the 'Yahad' (the Community). These people led an ascetic life, and were rigorous about studying the Bible, the laws of purification, and living a communal life. The large number of pools and immersion pools found at the site indicates the importance of bathing and purification in the life of this community.
The Qumran residents believed in the ancient decree that people were born either as 'sons of light' or as 'sons of darkness', and their fate was predetermined. They saw themselves as sons of light. The members of the sect followed a calendar based on the sun, and set the dates of the festivals for themselves. Some people consider that the monastic movement in Christianity sprang from this lifestyle. John the Baptist lived a monastic life in the desert, preaching purification and repentance, and according to tradition, also lived at Qumran. The distance from Qumran to John's baptism site on the Jordan River is not great.
How to get here: The site is in the north of the Dead Sea. Drive along Road 90, turning west at Kibbutz Kalya and following the signs.
There are picnic tables in the parking area only.
Last entry is one hour before closing time
Sunday - Thursday and Saturday – 8 am – 5 pm
Fridays and the eve of holidays – 8 am – 4 pm
Sunday - Thursday and Saturday – 8 am – 4 pm
Fridays and the eve of holidays – 8 am – 3 pm
On the eve of New Year, the eve of the Day of Atonement, and Passover eve: 8 am – 1 pm
Adult: NIS 29, child: NIS 15
Group (over 30):
Adult: NIS 23, child: NIS 14
Members of the Nature and Parks Authority - entrance is free
It is recommended to buy a combined ticket for Qumran National Park and the Eynot Tsukim Nature Reserve.
Facebook: Qumran National Park
Guided tours for groups can be arranged (for a fee) in English or Hebrew, at tel: 02-6541255, or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
In the Qumran National Park adaptations to make the site accessible to people with disabilities are being made. Adaptations currently in place include: