Why not visit a cave at Qumran?

Almost all tour groups will visit Qumran along the northwestern corner of the Dead Sea.  While Cave 4 is outstanding to see, photograph, and talk about–but it seems a bit commercialized given the character of the site as a whole (ice cream, coffee, huge overpriced gift shop, etc., etc.).

Descending From Cave 11

If you have an extra 45 minutes (a realistic time estimate), why not take your group to actually visit one of the caves?  The climb up to Cave 11 is exciting without being too difficult.  It was here that over 21 texts were found, including the Temple Scroll—the longest of the Dead Sea Scrolls (26.7 ft. long)!

To get to Cave 11, from the junction of Highway 90 and the entrance to the site of Qumran, head north on the paved road in the direction of Kalya , instead of going into Qumran.  At the entrance to Kalya continue straight north—the asphalt changes to dirt, but it is a good road.  As you drive north, on your right (east) there is a fence.  At the north end of the fence stop the bus and “debus” (there is room there for the bus to turn around).

View to the Northwest from Bus Park
Cave 11 and the path to it are on the right side of the image

Look to the north northwest and you will see two huge openings in cliff—left side of above image).  Cave 11 is to the right of these large openings and there is a path that leads directly to it.

The opening just to the right of center is the Entrance to Cave 11

It is about a 10-15 minute walk from where you have parked the bus and is a relatively easy climb (I strongly suggest taking water and a hat, along with your camera).

View to the South from Cave 11 — The Green Oasis is that of the site of Qumran — The Dead Sea is in the distance

From the entrance to Cave 11 there is a great view south towards Qumran and the Dead Sea.  It is a wonderful place to relive the trill of the discoveries of the scrolls!  It is also a good place to visit if you arrive too early or too late at the site of Qumran (!#$@!).

To view additional images of Qumran and Caves 1, 4, and 11  Click Here.

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3 responses to “Why not visit a cave at Qumran?

  1. Thanks, Carl. What scrolls were discovered in Cave 11? Anything the typical tourist might be aware of?

    • Wayne, thanks for the question.
      I think some tourists would be familiar with the Temple Scroll (11Q19-21)–if not, they certainly would be impressed with the fact that the longest of the Dead Sea Scrolls (28 feet) was found in Cave 11. Yadin secured possession of the scroll after the 6 days war in 1967.
      In addition, 4Q285 created quite a stir in 1991 as some suggested that it described a dying messiah! A fragment of this was found in cave 11 (11Q14 [11QSM]). Cooler heads have prevailed and now it is known as “The War of the Messiah.” Also, fragments of “A Vision of the New Jerusalem” were found in cave 11 although the main texts were found in caves 4 and 5. There are also a few significant Psalm fragments—of Psalms not included in the Hebrew Psalter.

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