Approximately 1471 photographs of the initial excavations Khirbet Qumran and its vicinity, including the caves, were taken by John Marco Allegro, from his arrival in Jerusalem in October 1953 through to his ‘Search in the Desert’ work in the 1960s. This entire collection was donated to the Manchester Museum by Mrs Judith Brown. John Allegro’s daughter, and later made available as microfiche images published by George Brooke and Helen Bond: The Allegro Qumran Photograph Collection: Supplement to the Dead Sea Scrolls on Microfiche (ed. G. Brooke with H.K. Bond; Leiden, New York & Köln, E.J. Brill and IDC, 1996). As part of the project’s commitment to study archival documentation and photographs, these images are being digitized as part of the Network project’s activities by Sandra Jacobs.
Judy Brown, daughter of John Allegro, has generously supplied the Network with many materials related to her father, and we are moving forward with investigating them. Included in these materials was a mysterious roll of film in a metal spool, shot by John Allegro. In order to find out what it was, Joan Taylor visited film archive expert Tim Emblem-English at his London studio: http://www.theflyingspot.co.uk/. Tim was able to recognise that this film was developed as a ‘reversal’ straight out of the camera that shot it, and its Kodak serial number could be traced to 1953. That date turned out to fit perfectly with the contents, as it showed, amazingly, the Copper Scroll being cut into with a circular blade. Thanks to Professor H. Wright Baker, at the former Manchester Institute of Technology (now The University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology), the scroll was first opened on 1 October 1955, and this film was shot on 3 October at the time of a second cut. The film duration is only 1.21 seconds long, at 25 frames a second, but the quality (silver nitrate on celluloid) is excellent. We have digitised this footage and here make it available on this site for viewing. You may want to imagine the sound of an electric cutter as you watch it!
Kindly note that this film is copyright. For any use of this footage, please be in touch with DQCAAS at firstname.lastname@example.org. We thank Judith Brown very much for allowing us to make use of this amazing piece of visual history and permitting us to digitise the footage.
Further details available in J.A. Brown, “Opening the Copper Scroll,” in John Marco Allegro: The Maverick of the Dead Sea Scrolls (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Cambridge UK; Eerdmans, 2005), pp. 60-75.