Qumran served as a study site for the Essenes, a Jewish sect existing in Jesus? day. Located at the edge of the Judea Wilderness, Qumran was an isolated community. The Essenes could live out their beliefs in separation from other religious groups of their time. The Essenes were likely a group of preists who rejected the priestly leadership in Jerusalem and moved to the desert to await the last days.
Not far from Qumran, the oases of Jericho and En Gedi provided desert homes for other ancient people. The Dead Sea was also nearby, with the land of Moab easily visible on its eastern shore.
Click here to see Qumran on a mapClick here to see a diagram of Qumran
When an earthquake destroyed the buildings of Qumran in 31 BC, the Essene community was abandoned until around 4 BC. At that time, the Essenes rebuilt their isolated study center. They continued to study there until Qumran was destroyed by Rome in AD 68.
Hundreds of years later, a Bedouin shepherd stumbled upon an amazing discovery at Qumran. In the nearby caves, he found what would become known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of writings from the Essene community.