The Copper Scroll

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The Copper Scroll was written around 70 C.E. and is believed to have been chiselled into copper just before the Romans ransacked the Temple. Rather than allow the pillage, the Jewish community hid the vast treasure in numerous locations creating the Scroll to detail the contents and numerous hiding places in an inventory that was painstakingly hammered into the copper, letter by letter.

Known by the metal on which it is inscribed, The Copper Scroll, is the only Dead Sea Scroll inscribed on metal. Naming the locations and vast quantities of silver and gold, it tantalisingly does not reveal where to start the search. For example,
"In the salt pit that is under the steps: forty-one talents of silver. In the cave of the old washer's chamber, on the third terrace: sixty-five ingots of gold.”

While there are many theories surrounding The Copper Scroll, what is undisputed is that it provides an independent confirmation of the importance of the Second Temple and is considered to be one of the best sources of first century Hebrew.


Henri de Contenson, a French archaeologist, and Józef Milik, a famous early Dead Sea Scrolls scholar, discovered The Copper Scroll accidentally in 1952 in Cave 3 near Qumran during a survey of the hundreds of caves along the western shore of the Dead Sea.

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The Copper Scroll was found in two pieces, rolled and buried in the cave. After 2,000 years hidden there, it had corroded and was too brittle to be unrolled.

In 1955, in order to separate and unroll the fragile scroll, the two rolls were sent to the Manchester College of Technology in England where, with a fine saw, they were cut into 23 semi-circular segments.
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Forty years later, and after further deterioration, the segments were sent by the Jordanian Department of Antiquities to the Laboratoire EDF-Valectra in Paris for restoration and scientific, scholarly analysis. As part of the investigation and restoration, EDF-Valectra created flexible silicone moulds from the semi-circular segments. These moulds were then laid flat and joined to recreate (in negative) the three plates of The Copper Scroll. Using the silicone moulds, EDF-Valectra was able to create electro-formed bright copper plates to exactly reproduce the profiles of the original. Unfortunately, whilst a faithful technical reproduction of the texts, these electro-formed plates conveyed none of the ageing, corrosion or patina acquired over 2,000 years in the desert. Furthermore, the original EDF copies only reproduced the front face of the plates.


Utilising EDF-Valectra’s reproduction, Facsimile Editions of London worked for two years with 3D imaging specialists, metallurgists and patinaters to reconstruct the 23 strips into an aged, solid copper replica of the original scroll. The scroll, in three pieces, is approximately 2.4 metres in overall length and 30cm wide.

Made of copper, the precise outline of the edges and holes of the original have been faithfully reproduced and finished by hand.
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Using the latest technology the three EDF electro-formed plates were scanned in 3D. These scans became the ‘master’ and the guide from which the new facsimile was created. Unfortunately EDF-Valectra only reproduced the front of the three plates. Facsimile Editions needed to create the backs too and, based on the knowledge that the plates were made by hammering the letters into the surface, the scans were reversed (effectively now a master for a negative image) to derive the information for the back.
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The finished 3D data files were then used to drive CNC milling machines to rout the pattern into high-density polycarbonate blocks, by far the most accurate and complicated part of the entire process. As far as is known, a double-sided object of this size has never been routed to such fine tolerances. These routed blocks would become the new ‘masters’ for the lost-wax casting process. As the casting process causes shrinkage, experimentation was required in order to cast the panels to the same size as the original. In order to achieve the target size, several test panels had to be routed with injection waxes and test casts being made at each stage.

In the casting process there is no tolerance - a casting error cannot be retouched – it has to be cast again, and many were! Each panel is cast in sections delineated where they were originally cut during their ‘opening’ in Manchester. They are then reassembled and welded before finishing carefully by hand with direct reference to images produced during EDF-Valectra’s restoration.

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From an electro-formed object we have made something that is as close as it is possible to get to the surface of the original and which imparts the look and feel of an ancient copper object made over 2,000 years ago.


A sumptuous 160-page volume containing a full translation of the text, drawings, indices and a detailed bibliography accompanies the facsimile edition.
The Copper Scroll is presented in a specially constructed heavy-duty flight-case to offer full protection during transportation or long-term storage.

Please contact us to purchase a copy of the
Copper Scroll, or for further details.