The Copper Scroll: Map to an Insanely Large Treasure
Updated: Apr 22
The copper scroll as found in cave 3.
Out of all the scrolls found at the Dead Sea Qumran site, one scroll made of copper is the most unique. Unique not only in its composition, but also in its content. Copper was a common metal used during the first century CE for archiving important administrative records. And the Copper Scroll from Qumran appears to be just that, a record of assets, not a literary work of religious nature. Those assets are gold and silver in amounts listed in talents—a talent being about 400 oz of gold or silver—or two and half modern bars of gold that would weigh about 75 pounds. The scroll lists 64 specific sites at which roughly 900 talents of gold are buried, in addition to a similar amount of silver. The gold in today’s rate of $2000 per oz would value at over two billion dollars!
Several theories have been put forward by scholars as to what this treasure represents: (1) the Essene’s personal treasury—although this contradicts the Essenes being ascetic and rejecting personal wealth. (2) Herod’s Temple treasure near the time of the Roman siege in 70 AD—although the Roman’s were known to have confiscated much treasure from that Temple. (3) Treasure from the Babylonian siege in the 6th century BCE, although the writing appears to be from the first century CE, and (4) a total hoax.
The copper scroll sections on display in Amman, Jordan. Photo by Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin.
Many have found explanation (2) to be the most plausible, and in fact books and novels have been written following that reasoning. Treasure hunters have dug all over Israel trying to follow the clues on the scroll, but to no avail. This has led many to believe that either the Romans or Jews during the 2nd Revolt dug up the treasure. The Romans were known to go to great lengths to extract information that would lead to buried treasure. For most of history those being conquered would hide their treasures to keep them away from the conquerors.
In our novel series, Cry for Jerusalem, we use the plausible explanation that the Jews were trying to keep the Romans from confiscating the treasure. We also postulate that they only hid perhaps half of the treasure, because if the Romans found nothing in the Temple, then they would assume it had been hidden and go and look for it. But it they found a lot there, then they might think they had found it all. The obsession of our antagonist to obtain this treasure becomes a subplot in the story. Like all subplots in the series, we attempt to use plausible events and explanations as ways to further dramatize the events of the day.