Archaeologists discover new Dead Sea scrolls cave

A remnant of a scroll after it was removed from a jar that has been discovered by archeologists in a cave on the cliffs west of Qumran, near the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea CREDIT: CASEY L. OLSON AND OREN GUTFELD / HANDOUT

Archaeologists have found a cave that once housed Dead Sea scrolls in a cliff in the Judean desert – the first such discovery in over 60 years.

Israel’s Hebrew University said the ancient parchments were missing from the cave, and were probably looted by Bedouin people in the 1950s.

Storage jars, fragments of a scroll wrapping, and a leather tying string were found at the site.

The Dead Sea scrolls date from as early as the 4th Century BC.
The priceless records include more than 800 documents written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, mostly on animal skin and papyrus.

As well as containing the oldest copies of many biblical texts, they also include many secular writings about life in the 1st and 2nd Centuries AD.

The first Dead Sea scrolls were discovered in 1947, reportedly by a young Bedouin shepherd hunting for a lost sheep in Qumran, on the modern-day West Bank.

It is not known who wrote the scrolls, although some scholars have credited a Jewish sect called the Essenes.

The team excavating the latest cave was led by Dr Oren Gutfeld and Ahiad Ovadia from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, with Dr Randall Price and students from Liberty University in Virginia.

The pottery jars and wrappings were found concealed in niches along the cave’s walls, and inside a 4-6m (16-20ft) tunnel at its rear.

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