CINCINNATI — The Ten Commandments scroll — one of the most important of the Dead Sea Scrolls in existence — is going on display in Cincinnati beginning Friday.
The tightly guarded scroll, one of the approximately 900 Dead Sea Scrolls in existence, can be seen through April 14 at the Cincinnati Museum Center.
The Ten Commandments scroll will be added for the last 17 days of the exhibit “Dead Sea Scrolls: Life and Faith in Ancient Times,” which also features 10 other scroll fragments from Israel. The scrolls are of great historical and religious significance because they include the earliest known surviving manuscripts of text included in the Hebrew Bible.
The Ten Commandments scroll is one of only two ancient manuscripts to feature the commandments, the foundation of Jewish and Christian religions. The other one, known as the Nash Papyrus, is at Cambridge University in England.
Written in Hebrew on a narrow strip of parchment, the scroll is believed to be between 2,010 and 2,060 years old. It is a reasonably well-preserved fragment, including one piece sewn onto another.
The scroll's arrival in Cincinnati is huge for the Museum Center, which has been negotiating with the Israel Antiquities Authority for months to show it.
“From the way they set up its restrictions for travel, this is their most protected,” David Duszynski, the museum's vice president of featured experiences, told The Cincinnati Enquirer for a story today. “It was an opportunity that we couldn't resist bringing to Cincinnati.”
Duszynski said the Antiquities Authority requires that this particular scroll be stored in darkness for one year after every 10 days of exhibition, although Cincinnati was able to get that display period extended to 17 days.
When the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit was in New York early last year, the Ten Commandments scroll was briefly displayed, but it was not part of the Philadelphia stop and will not be at the next venue, Boston. It has come to North America only twice before, to Toronto and San Diego.
The Dead Sea Scrolls were found in caves near the ancient Israel desert settlement of Qumran, near the sea, in the 1940s and ‘50s. There are different theories as to who wrote them.