Archaeologists are closing in on more Dead Sea Scrolls

More Dead Sea Scrolls may be hidden in two newly discovered caves in Israel.

LiveScience reports that the caves, dubbed 53b and 53c, are near caves where the famous artifacts were found. However, archaeologists excavating the sites have yet to find any new scrolls.

In a paper presented at the American Schools of Oriental Research annual meeting in Denver last month, archaeologists Randall Price of Liberty University and Oren Gutfeld of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem explain that cave 53b has revealed some of its secrets. Earlier this year, a rare bronze cooking pot and an ancient oil lamp were found in the cave. “Other finds included large amounts of pottery representing store jars, flasks, cups and cooking pots, and fragments of woven textiles, braided ropes and string,” they explain in an abstract from their paper.

Archaeologists note that the caves have at least partly escaped the attention of looters in previous decades. “The significance of this discovery involves the new evidence it provides that the caves south of Qumran represent sealed loci, despite the attempts by Bedouin to loot these sites,” they write, in the abstract.

The first Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1946 and 1947 in the Qumran caves in the Judean desert. Further scrolls were found in subsequent years, up to 1956. In total, 1,000 ancient religious manuscripts were discovered. The delicate fragments of parchment and papyrus were preserved for 2,000 years thanks to the dark, dry conditions in the caves.

LiveScience reports that most of the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in 11 caves discovered between 1946 and 1956. A single, blank scroll was found in a 12th cave that was discovered in 2017. Scroll jars, scroll wrappings, an Early Bronze Age seal, Neolithic arrowheads and pottery were also discovered in the cave.

The Dead Sea Scrolls are a continued source of fascination. Earlier this year, researchers at the University of Haifa announced that they have translated one of the last two parts of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

In October the Museum of the Bible in Washington D.C. confirmed that five of its 16 Dead Sea Scroll fragments are fakes.

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