Historical Timeline

First Temple Period

960-586 bce

Copies of biblical texts presumably composed in this period are among the most significant finds in the Dead Sea Scrolls collection.
The First Temple period, with divided kingdoms of Judah and Northern Israel
586 bce
Destruction of the First Temple and Jewish exile to Babylonia

MUR 17, the earliest manuscript identified among the Dead Sea Scrolls
Photo:
Shai Halevi

Second Temple Period

‏Persian Period
539–332 bce

Samaritan legal documents found at Wadi Daliyeh contain specific dates in the 4th century bce.
539 bce
Persian ruler Cyrus the Great conquers the Babylonian Empire and permits Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild their Temple

"The Clemency of Cyrus". From an illuminated manuscript of Josephus' Jewish Antiquities, by Jean Fouquet, c. 1470-1475. Bibliothèque nationale de France

Top: Papyrus Deed of Slave Sale from Wadi Daliyeh before opening.

Bottom: Papyrus Deed of Slave Sale from Wadi Daliyeh after opening.

‏Hellenistic Period
332–63 bce

Most of the Scrolls and fragments found in the caves near Qumran date to the Hellenistic period.
The majority of the non-biblical Scrolls in this collection – both the sectarian Scrolls and other diverse literary works – were composed during this era.
332 bce
Hellenistic rule.
Alexander the Great conquers Judea
323–141 bce
Ptolemaic and Seleucid rule

hasmonean period

168 - 164 bce
Maccabean Revolt
165 bce
Re-dedication of the Temple.
Beginning of Jewish autonomy
152-143 bce
Jonathan the Hasmonean, Ruler and High Priest
67-63 bce
Civil War between Hyrcanus II and Aristobolus II

4Q448
A prayer text mentioning "King Jonathan", most likely a Hasmonean ruler
Photo:
Shai Halevi

‏‏Roman Period
63 bce –73 ce

63 bce
Roman general Pompey captures Jerusalem
Many of the Scrolls discovered in the Qumran caves were copied, and a lesser few composed, during the Herodian period. Biblical and non-biblical scrolls as well as some Greek and Latin papyri were found at Masada.

herodian period

37–4 bce
Herod, Roman vassal king, rules the Land of Israel
4 bce
Romans assume direct administration of Judea
4 bce – 40 ce
Lifetime of Jesus of Nazareth
66 ce
Jewish revolt against the Romans
70 ce
Destruction of Jerusalem and Second Temple
73 ce
Judeans' last stand at Masada

"The Siege and Destrucion of Jerusalem"
David Roberts, 1850

11Q5 Psalms Scroll Herodian period
Photo:
Shai Halevi

Post Second Temple Period

‏Roman Period
73 ce –324 ce

The majority of manuscripts discovered at Wadi Murabba'at, as well as texts from Nahal Hever and Nahal Se’elim, date to the Roman period. Refugees who fled to desert caves during the First Jewish Revolt and the Bar Kokhba Revolt stored their precious personal items in the caves.
132–135 ce
Bar Kokhba uprising against Rome

Byzantine Period
324–638 ce

Judea under the rule of the Christian Eastern Roman Empire

Jerusalem on the Madaba Map, from the church of Saint George at Madaba, Jordan. 6th century ce

Early Islamic Period
7th–11th centuries ce

A large collection of Arabic manuscripts from this period was found at Khirbet Mird.
Judea incorporated into the Islamic Empire, under a succession of caliphates

MUR 173
Arabic amulet from Wadi Murabba'at
Photo:
Shai Halevi

"Saracens and Crusaders"
1325-1330. Illuminated Manuscript of Les Chroniques De France, British Library, MS. Royal 16G VI, F.442

Crusader Period
12th–13th centuries ce

A copy of a Greek Christian prayer dated to the Crusader period was found at Wadi Murabba'at.
For two centuries, Christian Crusaders from Europe were the dominant power in "the Holy Land"