Archaeologists Announce Discovery Of New Dead Sea Scroll Fragments Near Jerusalem

"The desert team showed exceptional courage, dedication and devotion to purpose, rappelling down to caves..."
An archaeologist at the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) shows a cloth fragment from the Bar Kochba Jewish revolt period dating back to 132136 CE, excavated from an area in the Judean Desert, after conservation work is done at the IAA's Dead Sea conservation laboratory in Jerusalem, on March 16, 2021. - Israel described the find, which includes a cache of rare coins, a six-millennia-old skeleton of a child and basket it described as the oldest in the world, at over 10,000 years, as one of the most significant since the Dead Sea Scrolls. The fragments, found following a survey in a desert area spanning southern Israel and the occupied West Bank, include passages in Greek from the Book of the Twelve Minor Prophets including the books of Zechariah and Nahum, the IAA said. (Photo by MENAHEM KAHANA / AFP) (Photo by

Archaeologists in Israel on Tuesday announced the discovery of dozens of new Dead Sea Scroll fragments that contain biblical text.

The fragments were found in a desert cave and “believed hidden by Jewish refugees during a Jewish revolt against Rome nearly 1,900 years ago,” Fox News reported.

“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,” Fox wrote.

Experts were able to decipher 11 lines of text from Zechariah, including the verses, “These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to one another, render true and perfect justice in your gates. And do not contrive evil against one another, and do not love perjury, because all those are things that I hate — declares the Lord,” The New York Times reported.

The original Dead Sea Scrolls were found in the 1940s and 50s, also in caves, and date from the third century B.C. to the first century A.D. They contain the earliest known biblical texts.

The newly discovered scroll fragments are the first to be found in the desert south of Jerusalem in 60 years. “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,” Fox reported.

“The desert team showed exceptional courage, dedication and devotion to purpose, rappelling down to caves located between heaven and earth,” said Israel Hasson, the departing director of the Israel Antiquities Authority, which is the custodian of some 15,000 fragments of the scrolls.

The Associated Press offered more information about the location of the fragments. “The roughly 80 new pieces are believed to belong to a set of parchment fragments found in a site in southern Israel known as the ‘Cave of Horror’ — named for the 40 human skeletons found there during excavations in the 1960s — that also bear a Greek rendition of the Twelve Minor Prophets, a book in the Hebrew Bible,” wrote the AP.

“We found a textual difference that has no parallel with any other manuscript, either in Hebrew or in Greek,” said Oren Ableman, a Dead Sea Scroll researcher with the Israel Antiquities Authority.

“When we think about the biblical text, we think about something very static. It wasn’t static. There are slight differences and some of those differences are important,” said Joe Uziel, head of the antiquities authority’s Dead Sea Scrolls unit. “Every little piece of information that we can add, we can understand a little bit better.”

The excavations also turned up rare coins from approximately 2,000 years ago, a 6,000-year-old skeleton of a mummified child and what may be the oldest surviving basket in the world, made of woven reeds.

“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,” Fox reported.

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