Normally I don’t have much to say about the Dead Sea Scrolls. But I do find this abnormally interesting. Antonio Lombatti reports that the “Qumran Scrolls were made in Qumran.” He provides a link to a report in Italian of work done by a team led by Giuseppe Pappalardo of the Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare (INFN, Italy’s National Institute for Nuclear Physics). If you are a native English speaker and are in a hurry, perhaps the Physorg article will be more to your liking. Read the whole article but here’s the bottom line.
The ratio of chlorine to bromine in the fragments of the Temple Scroll was then analysed using proton beams of 1.3 MeV, produced by the Tandem particle accelerator at the INFN National Laboratories of the South.
According to this analysis, the ratio of chlorine to bromine in the scroll is consistent with the ratio in local water sources. In other words, this finding supports the hypothesis that the scroll was created in the area in which it was found. The next step in the research will be to analyse the ink used to write the scrolls.
Any detailed comment will need to await the formal publication of the study. But if the study holds up, then it appears to make it very hard to maintain that the Temple Scroll is from Jerusalem or anywhere other than near the Dead Sea. That being the case, the argument for any of the Qumran Scrolls being from somewhere other than the Dead Sea also becomes much more difficult. Does it necessarily follow that scribes at Khirbet Qumran wrote this scroll or the others? No. But if not there, where?
Update: Jim Davila has a very cautious post on this report. Jim’s concerns should be taken into consideration.
Much depends on what “may” adds up to here. This is potentially a very exciting development: if it can be established on the basis of the physical composition of the Dead Sea Scrolls that they (or even some of them) were produced in the vicinity of Qumran, this would have important implications for theories about the origins of the Qumran library. But the very cautious phrasing of the claim makes it fairly uninteresting. We already knew that the Temple Scroll may have been produced locally. But the very cautious phrasing of the claim makes it fairly uninteresting. We already knew that the Temple Scroll may have been produced locally.
I find the study more interesting than Jim seems to but he is correct in his caution.