- It is a mystery that has baffled religious scholars for
50 years. Now the secret of the Copper Scroll, one of the Dead Sea Scrolls,
may finally be unravelled.
- Robert Feather, a member of the Institute of Metallurgists,
will claim in a television documentary tonight that he has cracked the
secret code of the Copper Scroll.
- Mr Feather rejects current thinking that the copper document
was written by the Essenes monastic sect 2,000 years ago. A member of the
Jewish Historical Society, and the Egypt Exploration Society, Mr Feather
believes the engraved scroll, which lists treasures buried in the Holy
Land, is written in Egyptian not in Hebrew.
- He suggests it can be traced back to the monotheistic
court of the Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten and Queen Nefertiti in Amarna 600
miles south of the Dead Sea and halfway down the Nile between Cairo and
Luxor. He is lobbying the Egyptian antiquities department for permission
to excavate the site.
- The location of the treasures themselves has baffled
scholars. Mr Feather makes a convincing argument for his theories in tonight's
BBC2 programme, The Pharaoh's Holy Treasure, but his claims are hotly contested
by other academics.
- "If the numbering system is Egyptian and the weights
system makes sense using Egyptian weights, then why not look to Egypt?
It's the logical thing to do. Virtually every major character in the Old
Testament spent huge amounts of time in Egypt born there, lived there,
or influenced by Egypt. It's an undeniable fact of the Jewish religion
that Egypt was a powerful force throughout its early history," said
- The Copper Scroll was discovered, in March 1952, by a
team of Jordanian and French archaeologists. It was broken into twochunks
and hidden in a cave in Qumran, Israel. Later, scientists, finding it too
brittle to unroll, sliced it into 23 segments. The scroll was 30cm wide
and, in total, 21/2m long.
- Historians deduced that the text, engraved down 12 columns
and listing 64 caches of treasure from gold bars to silver ingots, was
written in Hebrew, but they were mystified by the figures of 25 tonnes
of gold and 65 tonnes of silver more than the entire amount mined worldwide
at the time of the engraving.
- Mr Feather, who is married with two children and lives
in north London, believes he has found new clues in the text. One is the
inverted "u" for the number 10, which indicates that the engraving
was Egyptian and that the measure was the 10.2gm Egyptian kite rather than
the 35kgm Hebrew kikha, making the total treasure a much more credible
7.5kg of gold and 19.2kg of silver.
- He has also discovered that the 14 Greek letters spell
the name Akhenaten the Pharaoh, who was crowned Ahmenotep the fourth but
changed his name to mean "servant of the sun disc" after decreeing
there was only one God Aten.
- "The back of my neck was tingling. It was just one
of those moments of incredible excitement because no one had ever before
cracked this Greek cryptic puzzle," said Mr Feather, who backs his
theory by interpreting the scroll's words "Great River"not as
the River Jordan but as the River Nile. He has also weighed the gold bars
found at the part of the archaeological site known as Crock of Gold Square,
and the treasures discovered in Queen Nefertiti's tomb, and believes they
match the spoils identified in the Copper Scroll.