New research into the nearly 200 textiles found in the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered may bolster the theory that the Essenes were the writers of the famous scrolls. The Essenes were a Jewish sect, active from the 2nd century B.C. to the 1st century A.D. and are believed to have inhabited the settlement at Qumran near the caves where the scrolls were hidden. Qumran is now an archeological site and is located on the West Bank.
The new research has found that all of the textiles were made of undecorated linen, while the most common textile in ancient Israel was wool which was commonly dyed in bright colors. Another important claim by the researchers is that most of the textiles were originally used as clothing, but were later torn apart for other uses such as packing the jars of scrolls. This is important they say, because if the scrolls were packed away by refugees fleeing the Romans, as some scholars believe, the textiles found would most likely have been wool.
However, there are some scholars that disagree with the conclusions being drawn from the new research. Yuval Peleg of the Israel Antiquities Authority, an archeologist who has been working at the Qumran site, says that there is no link between the people at Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls. He claims the site was probably home to less than thirty inhabitants and that the scrolls and textiles were probably put into the caves by some of those who fled Jerusalem after the Roman seige of 70 A.D.
The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of over 900 texts discovered between 1947 and 1956 in caves on the shore of the Dead Sea in the area currently known as the West Bank.