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Oldest complete copy of 10 Commandments goes on display in Israel

The Dead Sea Scroll with the 10 Commandments is just one of 14 priceless objects being featured in The Israel Museum, Jerusalem’s exhibition called “A Brief History of Humankind” that began May 1, 2015 and will be running through January 2, 2016.

Sitting on 20 acres  the Israel Museum  Jerusalem is one of the world s finest.

Sitting on 20 acres, the Israel Museum, Jerusalem is one of the world’s finest.
Yair Haklai

The 10 Commandments manuscript, being 2,000 years old, is very brittle, so will only be displayed for public viewing for a period of two weeks. It will then be returned to the safety of its pitch-black, climate-controlled facility.

It was written before the birth of Jesus Christ and is just 18 inches long and three inches wide. The only other copy of the 10 Commandments is called the Nash Papyrus, which was discovered a century ago in Egypt, and dates to about 150 B.C. The Nash Papyrus is even more fragile than the Dead Sea Scroll copy and is kept at Cambridge University Library in England.

The 10 Commandments are universal laws governing humankind.

The 10 Commandments are universal laws governing humankind.
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“When you are thinking about universal law, the universal principle of ethics, … this is the first law that comes to your mind,” exhibit curator Tania Coen-Uzzielli said.

All the objects are framed rather dramatically in lit cases in a dark exhibition hall, making the significance of each artifact all the more compelling when looking at the history of humankind as a whole. What is particularly interesting is that each artifact was discovered in the Holy Land, a testament to the region’s central role in human history.

Sumerian Harvester s sickle  3000 BCE. Baked clay. Field Museum. The sickle in the Israel Museum col...

Sumerian Harvester’s sickle, 3000 BCE. Baked clay. Field Museum. The sickle in the Israel Museum collection dates back 9,000 years.
Field Museum

The museum is featuring the exhibit to mark its 50 th anniversary. Founded in 1965, it is the largest cultural institution in the state of Israel and is ranked among the world’s leading art and archeology museums. Taking inspiration from Yuval Noah Harari’s bestselling book, the exhibition strives to interweave historically significant objects with important archeological finds to tell the story of the unfolding of civilization.

Visitors will see evidence of the first use of fire, the first man-made tools, giving us the start of the agricultural revolution. Visitors can think about the first time writing became a way of expression, to the use of coins in trade and barter, right on up to the Theory of Relativity and its worldwide impact.

Albert Einstein s handwritten manuscript of his Theory of Relativity will be on display at the israe...

Albert Einstein’s handwritten manuscript of his Theory of Relativity will be on display at the israel Museum, Jerusalem as part of the exhibit.
Oren Jack Turner/ Library of Congress

The exhibit includes some tools 1.5 million-years-old that were used in an elephant hunt and the remains of a communal bonfire dating to 800,000 years ago. Visitors can also see the skulls found in a family burial plot, as well as the world’s oldest complete sickle.

The sickle dates back 9,000 years, to the period of time when humans transitioned from being hunter-gatherers to becoming settled and working the land.

Also on display is a 5,000-year-old Mesopotamian tablet, on loan to the museum, and a number of 2,700-year-old coins from what is now Turkey. And physicists will love seeing the original handwritten manuscript of Albert Einstein’s groundbreaking Theory of Relativity.

Museum director James Snyder says, “After only 50 years, we may be one of only a very few museums worldwide that can tell such a broad story from its own holdings.” All in all, the exhibit will be sure to spark a conversation about our relationship between the past and the present.

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Written By

Karen Graham is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for environmental news. Karen's view of what is happening in our world is colored by her love of history and how the past influences events taking place today. Her belief in man's part in the care of the planet and our environment has led her to focus on the need for action in dealing with climate change. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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