More discoveries were made in the Fifties, the texts all wrapped up in sealed ceramic jars. Some of the jars had already been broken, the texts likely lost forever.
But the few that remained stunned archaeologists and academics.
At first, many were sceptical, but dating the texts quickly dismissed any accusations of forgery.
They were found to have been created somewhere between the second century BC and the first century CE — more than 2,000 years ago.
They shook the foundations of Judaism and Christianity: here were some of the oldest Biblical texts ever found.
Dead Sea Scrolls: They were found in the Judaean Desert near to the Dead Sea (Image: GETTY)
Their significance was explored during the Smithsonian Channel’s documentary, ‘Secrets Unlocked: The Copper Scroll’, in which the narrator noted how the texts “Revolutionised biblical history”.
The Dead Sea Scrolls are now kept in Jerusalem, on display in the Israel Museum Shrine of the Book — an extraordinary collection of newly 1,000 ancient manuscripts.
Danny Herman, an archaeologist, has studied them for nearly two decades.
He told the documentary: “The Dead Sea Scrolls are by far the most important discovery ever made in this land.
“These are the oldest copies of the Old Testament that we have.
“They were written somewhere between the second century BC and the first century CE.”
Ancient history: Some of the text’s fragments (Image: GETTY)
The scrolls predate every other manuscript of the Hebrew Bible by a thousand years, and provide us with a unique insight into a way of life before and during the time of Jesus.
Mr Herman said: “Codes of behaviour, hymns, prayers, a whole library, 2,000 years old.
“It’s truly an amazing discovery.”
Much has been said about the scrolls and what they tell us about a time long gone.
During a 2014 episode of BBC Radio 4’s podcast, ‘Beyond Belief: Archaeology and Religion’, religious archaeologists and scholars discussed the social aspect of the scrolls.
Shrine of the Book: The scrolls are kept in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem (Image: GETTY)
Professor Francesca Stavrakopoulou, a biblical scholar, revealed how the findings exposed certain social issues of the time.
She said: “I think it shows us that the time of Jesus, the Jesus movement that grew up around him was just one of a number of Jewish sects or cults in which there were all sorts of anxieties about the relationship of the Jewish people and their God to the rest of the world.
“Particularly in relation to the Roman Empire.
“And so, ideas about the end times and a great apocalyptic or eschatological battle, the coming of a saviour figure or a messiah figure were actually not just common but were really diverse in their manifestations.
“Jesus and the movement around him was just one of those manifestations that happened to catch.”
Such is the desire to be close to the scrolls, many forgeries have sprouted up around the world over the years.
In 2018, The Museum of Bible, in Washington DC, was forced to remove fragments of what it believed were part of the Dead Sea Scrolls from a display.
Qumran cave: One of the caves in which the scrolls were found (Image: GETTY)
After sending five of its 16 fragments for analysis in Germany, results found that the pieces had “characteristics inconsistent with ancient origin”.
At the time, the Museum’s chief curatorial officer, Jeffrey Kloha, said he had hoped the “testing would render different results”.
He added: “This is an opportunity to educate the public on the importance of verifying the authenticity of rare biblical artefacts, the elaborate testing process undertaken and our commitment to transparency.”