Exhibit Brings Ancient Bible to Bible Belt

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An exhibition of the ancient Dead Sea Scrolls opening Thursday in Mobile will include lectures from some of the world's leading religious scholars, bringing Bible history to the Bible Belt.

Officials at the Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center expect at least 160,000 people to view the scrolls during a 95-day showing.

Exploreum spokeswoman Shannon Lipscomb said viewing hours will be expanded to accommodate any overflow crowds.

The scrolls were excavated from caves at Qumran, near the Dead Sea in the Judean Desert. They are the oldest texts of the Hebrew Bible in the original language.

They were discovered in the late 1940s and early 1950s, stored in pottery jars.

Lipscomb said at least 1,000 tickets have been sold for the lecture series, which has been relocated to nearby Christ Episcopal Church, because only 177 seats were available in the Exploreum's theater.