Archaeologists have long associated the scrolls with the ancient Jewish sect called the Essenes, although some recent interpretations have challenged this connection and argue that priests in Jerusalem, or Zadokites, or other unknown Jewish groups wrote the scrolls.
Robert Eisenman vigorously posits his theory that the later, non-biblical "sectarian" scrolls must be viewed in the context of a wider first-century CE “Opposition Movement,” including Essenes, Zealots, Sicarii, and/or Nazoreans, and particularly the early Judeo-Christian community of Jerusalem, the Ebionites, whose leader, James, the brother of Jesus, was acknowledged by the entire “Opposition Movement,” and who is no other than the Scrolls' Teacher of Righteousness.
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.
Research has dated it palaeographically to the 1st or 2nd century CE, and using the C14 method to sometime between the 2nd and 4th centuries CE.
The identified texts fall into three general groups: The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in a series of twelve caves around the site originally known as the "Ein Feshkha Caves" near the Dead Sea in the West Bank (then part of Jordan) between 19 by Bedouin shepherds and a team of archeologists.
The practice of storing worn-out sacred manuscripts in earthenware vessels buried in the earth or within caves is related to the ancient Jewish custom of Genizah.
He thus creates a strong link between the Scrolls and the pre-Pauline Jewish Christian community.
Owing to the poor condition of some of the scrolls, scholars have not identified all of their texts.
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.