Another Dead Sea Scrolls Cave Found (Photos)

For the first time in over 60 years, scholars have identified another Dead Sea Scrolls cave. This newly excavated cave has everything one finds in a DSS cave (storage jars with lids, protective cloth wrap, leather binding straps, etc.) except for the actual scrolls. Evidence indicates the scrolls were looted during the 1950’s by scroll hunters trying to make a quick profit.

Modern publications say the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered amongst eleven caves. We can now identify twelve that contained hidden scrolls during the Jewish war against Rome in the 1st century AD.

A lightly edited version of the press release is below, followed by several photos.The full press release is here with links to the full set of downloadable high-res photos. (Probably a temporary link, so take advantage now.)

– – – – – – – – – – – –

Excavations in a cave on the cliffs west of Qumran, near the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea, prove that Dead Sea scrolls from the Second Temple period were hidden in the cave, and were looted by Bedouins in the middle of the last century. With the discovery of this cave, scholars now suggest that it should be numbered as Cave 12.

The surprising discovery, representing a milestone in Dead Sea Scroll research, was made by Dr. Oren Gutfeld and Ahiad Ovadia from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Institute of Archaeology, with the help of Dr. Randall Price and students from Liberty University in Virginia, USA.

 

… Excavation of the cave revealed that at one time it contained Dead Sea scrolls. Numerous storage jars and lids from the Second Temple period were found hidden in niches along the walls of the cave and deep inside a long tunnel at its rear. The jars were all broken and their contents removed, and the discovery towards the end of the excavation of a pair of iron pickaxe heads from the 1950s (stored within the tunnel for later use) proves the cave was looted.

Until now, it was believed that only 11 caves had contained scrolls. With the discovery of this cave, scholars have now suggested that it would be numbered as Cave 12. Like Cave 8, in which scroll jars but no scrolls were found, this cave will receive the designation Q12 (the Q=Qumran standing in front of the number to indicate no scrolls were found).

“This exciting excavation is the closest we’ve come to discovering new Dead Sea scrolls in 60 years. Until now, it was accepted that Dead Sea scrolls were found only in 11 caves at Qumran, but now there is no doubt that this is the 12th cave,” said Dr. Oren Gutfeld, an archaeologist at the Hebrew University’s Institute of Archaeology and director of the excavation. “Although at the end of the day no scroll was found, and instead we ‘only’ found a piece of parchment rolled up in a jug that was being processed for writing, the findings indicate beyond any doubt that the cave contained scrolls that were stolen. The findings include the jars in which the scrolls and their covering were hidden, a leather strap for binding the scroll, a cloth that wrapped the scrolls, tendons and pieces of skin connecting fragments, and more.”

The finds from the excavation include not only the storage jars, which held the scrolls, but also fragments of scroll wrappings, a string that tied the scrolls, and a piece of worked leather that was a part of a scroll.

… This first excavation to take place in the northern part of the Judean Desert as part of “Operation Scroll” will open the door to further understanding the function of the caves with respect to the scrolls, with the potential of finding new scroll material. The material, when published, will provide important new evidence for scholars of the archaeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea caves.

“The important discovery of another scroll cave attests to the fact that a lot of work remains to be done in the Judean Desert and finds of huge importance are still waiting to be discovered,” said Israel Hasson, Director-General of the Israel Antiquities Authority. “We are in a race against time as antiquities thieves steal heritage assets worldwide for financial gain. The State of Israel needs to mobilize and allocate the necessary resources in order to launch a historic operation, together with the public, to carry out a systematic excavation of all the caves of the Judean Desert.

– – – – – – – – – – – –

 

dss_6-remnantofscroll

Remnants of a scroll from the newly discovered Q12 cave. This fragment was blank, apparently being prepared for use. (Credit: Casey L. Olson and Oren Gutfeld)

dss_7_remnantremoved

Remnant of the blank scroll removed from its storage jar. (Credit: Casey L. Olson and Oren Gutfeld)

dss_8_fabric

Cloth that was used for wrapping the scrolls. (Credit: Casey L. Olson and Oren Gutfeld)

dss_4

Cliff by the Dead Sea with cave entrance on the left. (Credit: Casey L. Olson and Oren Gutfeld)

dss_2

Archaeologist Ahiad Ovadia digging in cave Q12. (Credit: Casey L. Olson and Oren Gutfeld)

dss_3

Ziad Abu Ganem and a student sifting material from the cave. (Credit: Casey L. Olson and Oren Gutfeld)

dss_5

Fragments of jars that contained Dead Sea Scrolls. (Credit: Casey L. Olson and Oren Gutfeld)

 

Advertisements

About LukeChandler

Luke holds an M.A. in Ancient and Classical History and has been an adjunct professor at Florida College in Temple Terrace, Florida. Luke and his wife Melanie have five children. He serves as a minister in English and Spanish with the North Terrace Church of Christ and participates annually in archaeological excavations in Israel. Luke also leads tours to Europe and the Bible Lands.
This entry was posted in archaeologists, Biblical Archaeology, Dead Sea Scrolls, Inscriptions and Manuscripts, Israel, New Discoveries and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s