One way in which the scrolls are dated is through the use of radiocarbon tests, or C-14. In the 1990s either manuscripts were subjected to Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS).
It begins as a "telephone pole" (1), evolves into a "zigzag on a stick" (2), then starts to develop more cursive forms (3,4).
It gradually starts to look something like a bent nail (5,6).
Finally its "head" lengthens, almost reaching the "foot" (7), and reaches its final stage as a closed figure (8), as it still is today (9). Cook also lays out five periods of occupation for the site at Qumran, and these periods help to determine the rise and fall of the community that lived there and most likely wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Period I is from 8-7 BCE, during the times of the Old Testament in the Bible, and long before the time of the scrolls.
Periods Ia, Ib and II are from the 2nd century BCE to the 1st century CE.
Ib saw a number of structural expansions, and then there is a small gap in occupation between Ib and II, which is evidenced by a lack of coins.However, in Period II coins are found again and they continue in an unbroken series of every ruler in Judea at that time.These coins begin with Herod Archelaus, son of Herod the Great, who ruled from 4 BCE to 6 CE.In 66 CE Jews began to mint their own money, as a revolt against the Romans took hold of the country.There were a good number of coins from the first two years of the rebellion found at Qumran, but only a few from the third year, which would have been 68 CE.The next coins found were Roman, and from the reign of Nero, circa 68 CE.