"The Copper Scroll" (actually, there were 2 such scrolls found) is part of the Dead Sea Scrolls. However, it is a significant one, indeed, as it is the only one produced on copper rather than papyrus, paper, or other such.
Other Dead Sea Scrolls contained fragments of the Torah (i.e. the 1st 5 books of The Old Testament) as well as personal types of documents such as letters to family, friends, etc. But, the Copper Scroll(s) contained a list of items and directions to these items which amount to a vast fortune.
The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in late 1946 or early 1947 by teenaged shepherds. They accidentally stumbled upon the caves at Qumran, Israel, and later were found numerous scrolls in cave #3. The Copper Scroll was not discovered until 1952 by archeologists. It was the last of a total of 15 scrolls found at Qumran.
On the below map showing the location of Qumran is also shown the location of "The Cave of Letters". The Cave of Letters is important to this narrative and will be explained in just a bit.
As a quick aside, during our visit to Israel & Jordan we got to see the caves at Qumran - this is a photo of one of the entrances.
Being produced on copper, the Copper Scroll cannot be accurately dated. Scholars are not in accord as to whether the list on the scroll relates the Jewish 1st Temple's or 2nd Temple's artifacts - but most agree the scroll lists items taken from one of the Temples.
As to the list pointing to a vast fortune, here is an accounting of what the list describes:
Gold - 1285 Talents
Silver - 666 Talents
Gold and Silver - 17 Talents
Gold and silver vessels - 600 Talents
Mixed precious metals - 2,088 Talents
Gold ingots - 165
Silver bars - 7
Gold and Silver vessels - 609
Note: - a "talent" weighs about 76 pounds. In all, the list identified 26 tons of gold and 65 tons of silver.
Here is an example of one item on the list:
If you were a local to this town, such directions would be clear. Were you not from this town, you would never find where to turn left.
The writer(s) of this scroll fully expected people of that time to fully understand the directions given. After all, they expected the Temple to be restored rather quickly and, thus, the contents needed to be readily available.
Now, here is where The Cave of Letters comes into play.
During a 1960s archeological "dig" at the Cave of Letters some interesting items were found.
The team had discovered a pit, of sorts, obviously made by human hands. As they dug into the pit all they found, at first, were remnants of human waste. This had been a toilet.
Just as they were about to stop digging a piece of rope appeared at the bottom. Continuing to dig a bit more, at the end of the rope was a basket of bronze vessels and incense shovels - among other items.
The vessels, et. al., had adorned on them Roman gods and the like. The faces of these "gods" had been scratched off as best the "hiders" of these items could.
Now, in the mid-2000s an archeologist and Jewish Rabbi, Dr. Richard Freund, made a very interesting association between one item, #25, on the Copper Scroll and the Cave of Letters. By the way, being able to associate disparate things into a cohesive proposition/theory is a very valuable skill.
Item #25 on the Coper Scroll list reads: "In the cave of the column of two openings, facing East at the Northern opening is buried at 3 cubits a ritual limestone vessel. In/Next to it is one scroll; underneath is treasure."
Near the beginning of this there was a small picture of the Cave of the Letters. Here it is again; this time much larger. It clearly shows the cave with its 2 openings and what can be easily discerned as a "column" of rock in-between the openings - or, "In the cave of the column of two openings, facing East at the Northern opening.." Note: the East would be toward the back of the front part of the cave.
The next part calls for a limestone vessel to be found at a depth of 3 cubits. Back then 3 cubits equaled 1.4 meters today. Freund measured the depth of the original find back in 1960. The depth he measured? 1.7 meters. Pretty close, I'd say!
Also, the original archeological team back in 1960 found a stone jar, as in "a ritual limestone vessel", buried next to the opening of the hole where were found the basket of bronze vessels and incense shovels. No scroll was found, however.
Freund disagrees. He points out that throughout history one culture has appropriated and used aspects of another for their own needs. The fact that the faces of the images were scraped off lends credence here.
Further, there is the Arch of Titus, located on the Via Sacra in Rome, showing Roman soldiers carrying a large Menorah taken from the Temple at Jerusalem. On the base are figures of Roman deity representations.
A similar rationale exists for the established date of Easter. It coincided with the pagan's fertility rite of Spring. There is even a holdover from the pagan "fertility celebration" tradition evidenced today. We see bunnies being a focus of Easter celebrations. Now, rabbits do WHAT like rabbits?
As to the Copper Scroll, item #25 is the only one that has been successfully "decoded" (with the possible exceptions noted in the video below under "Post Scripts"). I guess you had to be there, back then, to comprehend the rest. We'll just have to wait and see if other "decodings" occur.
The Copper Scroll was the only one of the Dead Sea Scrolls found by an archeologist. The rest were found by Bedouins in the area. I guess turning over the Bedouins' finds to a museam was not on their agenda. Because, ...
Some of the Dead Sea Scrolls (Not The Copper Scroll) were put up for sale in the classifieds section.
Athanasius Yeshue Samuel, a Syrian Orthodox archbishop of Jerusalem, bought four of the original Dead Sea Scrolls from a cobbler who dabbled in antiquities, paying less than $100.
Samuel traveled to the United States and unsuccessfully offered them to a number of universities, including Yale.
He then, in 1954, put an ad in the Wall Street Journal under the heading “Miscellaneous Items for Sale”’: “Biblical Manuscripts dating back to at least 200 B.C. are for sale. This would be an ideal gift to an educational or religious institution by an individual or group.”
There were no takers. They were eventually sold to the State of Israel which now has all known Dead Sea Scrolls. Are there others not yet identified, found, or turned over? More than likely.
2. An interesting video on the subject:
An investigator, Jim Barfield, put together a video of his research and, in my opinion, reasoned analysis of The Copper Scroll (runs about 1/2 hour). Click Here for the video.