Many modern archaeologists such as Cargill believe the Essenes authored some, but not all, of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Recent archeological evidence suggests disparate Jewish groups may have passed by Qumran around A.D. 70, during the Roman siege of Jerusalem, which destroyed the Temple and much of the rest of the city.
A team led by Israeli archaeologist Ronnie Reich recently discovered ancient sewers beneath Jerusalem. In those sewers they found artifacts—including pottery and coins—that they dated to the time of the siege.
The finds suggest that the sewers may have been used as escape routes by Jews, some of whom may have been smuggling out cherished religious scrolls, according to Writing the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Importantly, the sewers lead to the Valley of Kidron. From there it's only a short distance to the Dead Sea—and Qumran.
The jars in which the scrolls were found may provide additional evidence that the Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of disparate sects' texts.
Jan Gunneweg of Hebrew University in Jerusalem performed chemical analysis on vessel fragments from the Qumran-area caves.
"We take a piece of ceramic, we grind it, we send it to a nuclear reactor, where it's bombarded with neutrons, then we can measure the chemical fingerprint of the clay of which the pottery was made," Gunneweg says in the documentary.
"Since there is no clay on Earth with the exact chemical composition—it is like DNA—you can point to a specific area and say this pottery was made here, that pottery was made over here."
Gunneweg's conclusion: Only half of the pottery that held the Dead Sea Scrolls is local to Qumran.