Israeli experts announce discovery of new Dead Sea scrolls
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Israeli experts announce discovery of new Dead Sea scrolls

Israeli archaeologists on Tuesday announced the discovery of dozens of new Dead Sea Scroll fragments bearing a biblical text found in a desert cave and believed hidden by Jewish refugees during a Jewish revolt against Rome nearly 1,900 years ago.

The Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of Jewish texts found in desert caves near the Dead Sea, in Qumran, in the 1940s and 1950s, date from the third century B.C. to the first century A.D. They include the earliest known copies of biblical texts and documents outlining the beliefs of a little understood Jewish sect. 

The newly found fragments of parchment bear lines of Greek text from the books of Zechariah and Nahum and have been radiocarbon-dated to the second century A.D., according to the Israel Antiquities Authority.

DEAD SEA SCROLLS DISCOVERY: FRAGMENTS THOUGHT TO BE BLANK REVEAL TEXT

  • The moment when the Book of the Twelve Minor Prophets scroll was discovered in Muraba‘at Cave. (Photo: Highlight Films, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority)((Photo: Highlight Films, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority))

  • Sections of the Book of the Twelve Minor Prophets scroll discovered in the Judean Desert expedition prior to their conservation. (Photo: Shai Halevi, Israel Antiquities Authority)((Photo: Shai Halevi, Israel Antiquities Authority))

  • Archaeologist Hagay Hamer holding a Bar Kokhba coin found in the desert. (Photo: Yoli Schwartz, Israel Antiquities Authority)((Photo: Yoli Schwartz, Israel Antiquities Authority))

  • The 10,500-year-old basket as found in Muraba’at Cave. (Photo: Yaniv Berman, Israel Antiquities Authority)((Photo: Yaniv Berman, Israel Antiquities Authority))

  • 6,000-year-old skeleton of a girl or a boy who was buried wrapped in cloth. (Photo: Emil Aladjem, Israel Antiquities Authority)((Photo: Emil Aladjem, Israel Antiquities Authority))

These scrolls are the first new scrolls found in archaeological excavations in the desert south of Jerusalem in 60 years, discovered in a complex operation on the cliffs of the Judean Desert. The scrolls were retrieved from the Cave of Horror in the Judean Desert reserve of Nahal Hever, about 80 meters below the cliff top, by clinging to ropes, in excavations which started in 2017.

The fragments are believed to have been stashed away in the cave during the Bar Kochba Revolt, an armed Jewish uprising against Rome during the reign of Emperor Hadrian, between 132 and 136 A.D. 

The operation uncovered additional finds from various periods: rare coins from approximately 2,000 years ago, a 6,000 year old skeleton of a child, likely female, wrapped in cloth and mummified, and what may be the oldest surviving basket in the world, made of woven reeds.

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The basket, complete with lid, is more than 10,500 years old, based on radiocarbon dating by Professor Elisabetta Boaretto of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, the IAA said. That is the Neolithic period, predating the arrival of pottery in the region.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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