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A sheikh joined their conversation and suggested they take the scrolls to Khalil Eskander Shahin, "Kando", a cobbler and part-time antiques dealer.

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They represent the remnants of larger manuscripts damaged by natural causes or through human interference, with the vast majority only holding small scraps of text.

However, a small number of well-preserved, almost intact manuscripts have survived — fewer than a dozen among those from the Qumran Caves.

The original scrolls continued to change hands after the Bedouin left them in the possession of a third party until a sale could be arranged.

(See Ownership.) In 1947 the original seven scrolls caught the attention of Dr. Trever, of the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR), who compared the script in the scrolls to that of The Nash Papyrus, the oldest biblical manuscript then known, and found similarities between them.

The initial discovery, by Bedouin shepherd Muhammed edh-Dhib, his cousin Jum'a Muhammed, and Khalil Musa, took place between November 1946 and February 1947.

The shepherds discovered seven scrolls (See Scrolls and fragments) housed in jars in a cave near what is now known as the Qumran site. Trever reconstructed the story of the scrolls from several interviews with the Bedouin.

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(Biblical texts older than the Dead Sea Scrolls have been discovered only in two silver scroll-shaped amulets containing portions of the Priestly Blessing from the Book of Numbers, excavated in Jerusalem at Ketef Hinnom and dated c. The third-oldest surviving known piece of the Torah (the En-Gedi Scroll) consists of a portion of Leviticus found in the Ein Gedi synagogue, burnt in the 6th century CE and analyzed in 2015.

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