On Tuesday, March 16, archaeologists in Israel announced the discovery of dozens of Dead Sea Scroll fragments in a cave in the Judean Desert. The fragments of parchment are the first new scrolls to be found near Jerusalem in 60 years.
According to the Israel Antiquities Authority, the fragments bear Greek letters from the books of Zechariah and Nahum that were written during the first century. It is believed that the scrolls were hidden during the Bar Kochba Revolt— a Jewish uprising against Rome nearly 1,900 years ago.
For the past four years, Israeli archaeologists have been scouring the Judean Desert to prevent possible plundering of rare artifacts. And while they have found parchment scraps in their search before, this is the first time that they unearthed fragments that bear texts. (Read: Shroud of Turin to Be Put on Display for Holy Saturday)
“For the first time in 70 years, we were able to preempt the plunderers,” said Amir Ganor, head of the antiquities theft prevention unit. He noted that since they started scouring the Judean Desert in 2017, there has been virtually no antiquities plundering in the area.
Dead Sea Scrolls
The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of Jewish texts that are found in desert caves in the West Bank in the 1940s and 1950s. They include the earliest known copies of almost every book of the Hebrew Bible, and date back to as early as the third century B.C. to the first century A.D.
Around 80 new fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls have been found by archaeologists in the past years. They are believed to have been part of a scroll stashed away in the “Cave of Horror” between the years 132 and 136, during the Bar Kochba Revolt. (Read: How Fossil Discoveries Are Proving the Need to Invest in the Sciences)
The new fragments contain verses from Zechariah 8:16-17, including part of the name of God written in ancient Hebrew. They also have verses from Nahum 1:5-6, both from the biblical Book of the Twelve Minor Prophets, written on them.