60 Years After The Discovery Of The Dead Sea Scrolls: 2000-year-old Biblical Fragments Were Found
The last time biblical scrolls were discovered was in 1960. But in a special operation that surveyed half of the Judean Desert recently, excerpts from 2000-year-old scrolls from the books of the prophets Zechariah and Nahum were found in the cave. A skeleton of a 6,000-year-old boy, a rare treasure from the days of Bar Kochba and the oldest basket in the world, was also discovered.
"These are the things which ye shall do: Speak the truth and declare one another the truth, and the judgment of peace; a judge at your gates. And take no thought of your neighbor's evil deeds in your heart, and swear falsely, 'Do not love them: for all these are we, who are"
These verses, Zechariah chapter 8, 16-17, were discovered on dozens of pieces of a 2,000-year-old inscribed parchment scroll in a challenging and complex archeological-national operation conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority in the Judean Desert cliffs since October 2017, to eradicate the robbery phenomenon.
The historical discovery comes about 60 years since fragments of a biblical scroll were last discovered in the archeological excavation, made by a delegation of Yigal Yadin in the Cave of Horror and the Environment. In addition to the scrolls, the operation yielded other astonishing findings: a rare coin cache bearing Jewish symbols from the days of Bar-Kochba, a 6,000-year-old skeleton, probably of a girl, buried wrapped in cloth and modified, and a huge 10,500-year-old whole basket - as far as is known, ancient Most in the world.
The Judean Desert Scrolls, also known as the Hidden Scrolls, the Qumran Scrolls, and the Dead Sea Scrolls, were discovered in the 1940s and 1950s in several caves in the Judean Desert, preserving the earliest biblical writings in Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic. 3-1 AD, was probably made by the Essene sect that inhabited the desert and is considered the most important archeological find of the 20th century, some of which are now on display in the Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem.
The passages discovered in the last excavation, bearing verses from the books of the prophets Zechariah and Nahum and written in Greek, were uncovered in an archeological excavation in the Judean Desert Reserve, in the "Cave of Horror" in Nahal Hever, which hangs between heaven and earth. The cave is located about 80 meters below the top of the cliff, between abysses, and the way to it involves challenging surfing. It will be clarified that entry to the cave is prohibited and is dangerous for hikers.
The national project for surveying and excavating the Judean Desert caves has been conducted in caves and desert crevices since 2017, at the initiative of the Israel Antiquities Authority, in cooperation with the Judea and Samaria Archeology Staff Officer in the Civil Administration, and funded by the Jerusalem and Heritage Ministry. Today, its results are revealed for the first time.
From the discovery of the Judean Desert scrolls to the present day, the Judean Desert caves have been a target for antiquities robbers; The climate in the caves allows for the exceptional preservation of scrolls and ancient documents - cultural heritage assets of immense importance. The cave robbers will pursue them while risking their lives, destroying the caves and historical evidence.
"The purpose of the national operation is to save the rare and important heritage assets in the desert from the clutches of the robbers," says Israel Hasson, director of the Antiquities Authority and initiator of the operation. "The desert team showed courage, dedication and exceptional devotion to the goal, surfed to caves nestled between heaven and earth, dug and sifted through them in conditions of thick dust and suffocation, and returned with valuable gifts to human culture. . "Resources must be allocated to complete the operation, which is of historical importance. We must make sure that all the information waiting to be discovered in the caves is exhausted before the robbers do so. Some things have no price."
Since the start of the operation in October 2017, teams from the Israel Antiquities Authority, led by Uriah Amichai, Hagai Hamer, and Haim Cohen, have been systematically surveying every cave and gorge in the desert cliffs.
According to the directors of the operation, Dr. Ofer Sion, Amir Ganor, Dr. Eitan Klein, and Pablo Betzer from the Israel Antiquities Authority, so far, about 80 consecutive kilometers of cliffs of the Judean Desert have been surveyed. The complex operation included operating skimmers and reaching hard-to-access caves, using surfing and climbing equipment. Besides, archeological excavations were conducted in selected caves. The meticulous survey, which also included botanical and zoological aspects, is expected to shed new light on the study of the Judean Desert caves. Dozens of teenagers and preparatory students joined the archeological excavations, in areas that were relatively easy to access. This, as part of the management policy of the Israel Antiquities Authority, seeks to nurture a young generation in Israel related to its heritage.
11 Lines Of Writing From The Scroll Have Been Restored
Excerpts from the Greek Thirteen Scrolls revealed in the operation were written by two different writers. In the preservation and research conducted by Tania Beatler, Dr. Oren Eibelman, and Beatrice Riestra from the Judean Desert Scrolls Unit at the Israel Antiquities Authority, 11 lines of writing were restored, partially preserving the Greek translation of verses 16-17 in the book of Zechariah.
A comparison of the preserved text in the newly discovered passages, to the familiar text, reveals quite a few differences, some of them very surprising. These differences, indicate the crystallization process of the biblical text until the end of the Bar Kochba revolt and help to understand the chain of delivery of the ancient manuscripts, up to the version known today. Another exciting detail is that although the scroll was written in Greek, which was the dominant language in the Eastern Roman Empire (similar to today's English), the explicit name was written in the ancient Hebrew script, which was customary in the days of the First Temple.
In the interior of the Cave of Horror and near its wall, another amazing discovery was made: a skeleton of a boy or girl from 6,000 years ago, wrapped in cloth, which had undergone a process of mummification.
Under two flat stones, a dug niche with a skeleton was exposed, and it was most likely a girl. The girl was placed in a fetal position and she was covered with a cloth that wrapped her head and upper body like a small blanket, with her feet sticking out. It was obvious that the person who buried the girl wrapped her and pushed the edge of the cloth under her. The girl's hands were gathered close to her body. The girl's skeleton and the cloth that wrapped it were remarkably preserved as a result of the climatic conditions in the cave and in fact, a process of natural mummification took place in which the skin, tendons, and even hair were partially preserved, despite the passage of time.
The Huge Basket Is Preserved Thanks To The Extreme Dryness
Another discovery, the only one in the world known so far, was uncovered by teenagers from the "Nofei Prat" preparatory school in one of the square caves in the Nahal Darga Reserve: a huge basket with a lid, which was also exceptionally preserved due to the high temperatures and extreme dryness prevailing in the area. The basket dates to the Pre-Ceramic Neolithic period about 10,500 years ago.
As far as is known, this is the oldest basket in the world that is found to be completely intact, and therefore its importance is immense. The volume of the basket, which appears to have been used for storage, is 90-100 liters. The basket provides new and interesting information about the storage methods of the products 1,000 years before the invention of ceramics. It is braided from plant material, in a method that is not common in the shooting industry. It is empty, and only future research of the little land left in it will be able to help find out what it was used for and what was buried in it.
The skeleton is currently being investigated under the leadership of Ronit Lupo of the Israel Antiquities Authority and Dr. Hila Mai of the Tel Aviv University School of Medicine. The oldest complete basket in the world was explored under the leadership of Dr. Naama Sukenik and Dr. Yanir Milevsky of the Israel Antiquities Authority. The skeleton and basket were dated using carbon 14 by Prof. Elizabeth Puerto from the Unit for Scientific Archeology at the Weizmann Institute of Science.
The Director-General of the Ministry of Jerusalem and Heritage, Avi Cohen, said: "The findings found in the unique project are direct and loyal witnesses of the Jewish heritage in the area and the inseparable connection between the long-standing Jewish cultural activities and its locality in this country. It is great excitement to launch these findings and reveal them to the public, findings that shed great light on history. "
According to the director-general of the Ministry of Culture and Sports, Raz Froelich: "This is a historic discovery and an international scale in this period. Along with progress and technology, we are reminded of the rich heritage and ancient history of the Jewish people. "