12th Dead Sea Scrolls Cave Discovered In Israel

Posted: Feb 8 2017, 10:44pm CST | by , Updated: Feb 9 2017, 6:30am CST, in News | Latest Science News

 

12th Dead Sea Scrolls Cave Discovered in Israel
Archaeologists Oren Gutfeld and Ahiad Ovadia surveying the cave. Credit: Casey L. Olson and Oren Gutfeld)
 

The surprising discovery represents a milestone in Dead Sea Scroll research and opens a door to further understand the religious manuscripts

Dead Sea scrolls are ancient manuscripts that remained hidden in the caves along the northwest shore of Dead Sea for centuries until some of those were discovered by a goat herder in 1947. Since then, around 800 documents in the form of tens of thousands of fragments have been found in 11 caves near the site of Qumran in the West Bank.

Now, researchers have found another Dead Sea Scrolls cave, full of jar fragments and other antiquities, making it the first new scrolls cave discovery over 60 years.

“Until now, it was accepted that Dead Sea scrolls were found only in 11 caves at Qumran, but now there is no doubt that this is the 12th cave.” Dr. Oren Gutfeld, an archaeologist at the Hebrew University's Institute of Archaeology and director of the excavation, said in a statement

Inside the cave, researchers have found many Second Temple period jars that are all broken and empty but at one time they contained Dead Sea scrolls. The evidences found in the cave imply the presence of religious manuscripts in the cave which were possibly stolen by nomadic in the middle of the last century. 

The cave was looted before the archeologists excavated the site and discovered this previously unknown natural chamber.

"Although at the end of the day no scroll was found, and instead we 'only' found a piece of parchment rolled up in a jug that was being processed for writing, the findings indicate beyond any doubt that the cave contained scrolls that were stolen,” said Dr. Gutfeld.

“The findings include the jars in which the scrolls and their covering were hidden, a leather strap for binding the scroll, a cloth that wrapped the scrolls, tendons and pieces of skin connecting fragments, and more.”

Researchers also found pottery, numerous flint blades, arrowheads and a semi-precious stone belonging to the civilizations from Chalcolithic and the Neolithic periods.

The excavation that took place here was the very first in the northern part of the Judean Desert and opens a door to further understand the function of the caves with respect to the scrolls. 

“The important discovery of another scroll cave attests to the fact that a lot of work remains to be done in the Judean Desert and finds of huge importance are still waiting to be discovered," said Israel Hasson from Israel Antiquities Authority. 

“We are in a race against time as antiquities thieves steal heritage assets worldwide for financial gain. The State of Israel needs to mobilize and allocate the necessary resources in order to launch a historic operation, together with the public, to carry out a systematic excavation of all the caves of the Judean Desert.”

 

 

 

 

 

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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