The family which originally sold the Dead Sea Scrolls to collectors and institutions about 70 years ago says they kept some fragments in a Swiss safe deposit box all these years - and those have been up for sale.  The manuscripts are the earliest copies of the Hebrew Bible ever found and the oldest written evidence of the roots of Judaism and Christianity in the Holy Land.

Israel’s government antiquities authority is not pleased with the ongoing divestiture, saying it is part of their cultural history but collectors and institutions are buying them up anyway. William Kando, who maintains his family’s Dead Sea Scrolls collection, says he tried to sell them to Israelis buy they couldn't afford them. Israel regards the scrolls a national treasure and keeps its share of them in a secure, climate-controlled, government-operated lab on the Israel Museum campus in Jerusalem.

They were discovered when a Bedouin shepherd cast a stone inside a dark cave and something break. He found clay jars, some with rolled-up scrolls inside. After a return visit, he and his Bedouin companions had found a total of seven scrolls. They sold three of them through an antiquities dealer to a Hebrew University professor, and four to William Kando’s father, a Christian cobbler in Bethlehem who in turn sold them to the archbishop of the Assyrian Orthodox church, who smuggled them out at the onset of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.