They were found, in a new cave, where they are believed to have been hidden, vestiges of the storage of several scrolls of the Dead Sea. For more than 60 years there was no such discovery.
What are the Dead Sea Scrolls?
The Dead Sea Scrolls are more than 2,000 years old and are considered the most important archaeological discoveries of the 20th century. They are the oldest set of biblical texts ever discovered. Its contents contain several parts of the Old Testament, in Hebrew and Aramaic. It is further believed that these scrolls were created by a Jewish group that lived in the area where the manuscripts were found. They will have been expelled by Roman forces during a Jewish uprising, 70 years before Christ (BC). They describe the group’s life, time, and beliefs.
This group of archaeologists from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has discovered a new cave where these ancient scrolls will have been kept. In the mid-twentieth century, 11 caves were found along the shores of this Sea, with hundreds of ancient Hebrew manuscripts. However, similar discoveries have not been made for decades. Now a 12th cave has been found, The Telegraph reported.
Although no scroll was actually found, the researchers believe that by the 1950s they were stolen by Bedouin robbers. Even without the scrolls, archaeologists say the discovery is a major breakthrough.
“This exciting excavation was the closest we’ve had in 60 years to discovering new Dead Sea Scrolls. So far, we have always believed in the existence of only 11 caves with scrolls, but now we can say there is a 12th”, said Oren Gutfeld, the excavation director.
The group of archaeologists involved in the discovery have no doubt that the scrolls were stored in this cave at a certain time, since vessels were found identical to the other caves where these manuscripts were stored. Simultaneously, the researchers found pieces of leather, used to tie the scrolls, as well as cloth and other materials of the time. What’s more, they found two picks from the mid-twentieth century, which proves that more people were there and took the material inside.
Contained within a broken vase, a piece was also found, which was taken for analysis, of what is believed to have been a parchment. The excavation was carried out by an Israeli Government project that wants to discover more Dead Sea Scrolls – the “Operation Parchment”.
In total, there were about 900 Dead Sea Scrolls already found in the first 11 caves, which were displayed in the Book Shrine at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. These scrolls date from about 100 BC, and are therefore older than the Hebrew Bible itself. The discovery of the Dead Sea manuscripts influenced the way the Bible looked at (and read) the Bible.