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Dead Sea Scroll Fragments Discovered In Judean Desert Cave

Dead Sea Scroll Fragments Discovered In Judean Desert Cave


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Dozens of fragments of a 2,000-year-old biblical “Dead Sea scroll” have been found in a cave in the Judean desert, Israel. It is the first time such text has been found in 60 years, since the motherload of Dead Sea scrolls was found in the 40’s and 50’s. They are one of a number of finds made in a largescale historic survey by the Israeli authorities of the Judean desert cave system.

Antiquities Rescue Mission Finds Dead Sea Scroll Fragments

The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) have announced “magnificent and rare” finds after completing an operation to protect the cultural treasures that were vulnerable to looting in the Judean Desert Nature Reserve.

According to the IAA, this is the first time such text fragments have been found since the last find of the famous Dead Sea scroll parchments were recovered from caves in Qumran in the West Bank. These famous parchments are remains of the oldest copies of biblical text in the world, dating back to between the 3 rd century BC and the 1 st century AD.

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The operation to survey and excavate the desert caves and ravines has been running since 2017. It is a collaboration between the IAA and the Staff Officer of the Archaeology Department of the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria, with funding from the Landmarks Program of the Ministry of Jerusalem and Heritage, explained the IAA statement .

Since the Dead Sea scrolls were discovered in the region over 70 years ago, the area has been targeted by thieves and looters. The aim of the survey was to find and recover any antiquities that might remain in the area, to save them from the hands of thieves.

According to Amir Ganor, head of the Antiquities Theft Prevention Unit, the operation has been a real success. Ganor stated that “since the commencement of the operation in 2017 there has been virtually no antiquities plundering in the Judean Desert,” reports AP News .

Investigator repels into Cave 8 at Nahal Hever known as the Cave of Horror, where the Dead Sea scroll fragments were recently discovered. (Eitan Klein / Israel Antiquities Authority )

Missing Pieces Miraculously Found In The “Cave of Horror”

According to an IAA film on the discovery, around 20 fragments were initially discovered in the new find, and this number rose to 80 in total according to AP News . Based on the writing style they are from the 1 st century AD, states the IAA.. The content of the text includes sections from the Book of the Twelve Minor Prophets including lines from the books of Zechariah and Nahum, written in Greek.

It is thought that the new parchment finds are some of the missing pieces of a larger group of scroll fragments that were previously discovered in the cave known as the “Cave of Horror.” This cave, designated as “Cave 8,” is located in Nahal Hever, and lies 80 meters (262 feet) below the clifftop, so it is only accessible using climbing equipment .

In 1952, the cave was found to contain the remains of 40 men, women and children that were hiding out from the Romans during the Bar Kokhba Revolt . This was when the Jewish rebels attempted an uprising against the Roman regime of Emperor Hadrian. The revolt lasted from 132-136 AD, and initially Jews gained a great deal of territory, including 50 strongholds and almost a thousand towns and villages, including Jerusalem.

But their success was to be short lived. They were defeated by the tactics of Julius Severus, who besieged the Jewish fortresses and camps until rations were exhausted and the people were weak. This seems to be what happened at the Cave of Horror. The group hid for as long as they could last but are thought to have eventually died of starvation or thirst.

Found along with the Dead Sea scroll fragments in the cave was a cache of coins. The entire coin hoard is thought to have been hidden during the Jewish Bar Kokhba revolt.

Coins from the Bar Kokhba period recovered from the Cave of Horror. (Dafna Gazit / Israel Antiquities Authority )

Other Ancient Finds From The 500 Plus Nahal Hever Caves

The survey has been a massive operation and has included the investigation of over 500 caves. The arid conditions of the caves have allowed items to be preserved over many millennia. Other important finds discovered during the survey were far more ancient than the Roman period.

These include the 6000-year-old mummified remains of a child, and what is believed to be the oldest completely intact woven basket and lid in the world, which has been radiocarbon dated to as old as 10,500 years.

6,000-year-old skeleton of a girl or a boy who was buried wrapped in cloth in one of the many Nahal Hever caves. (Emil Aladjem / Israel Antiquities Authority )

The ancient skeleton had been wrapped in a material and placed in a dug out pit, underneath two stones, reports the Jerusalem Post . The remains included naturally mummified flesh and other organic matter and “a small bundle of cloth was clutched in the child’s hand,” said Ronit Lupu, an IAA prehistorian, who went on to state:

“…and because of the climatic conditions in the cave, a process of natural mummification had taken place; the skin, tendons, and even the hair were partially preserved, despite the passage of time."

The 10,500-year-old basket as it was found in the Muraba‘at Cave. (Yoli Schwartz / Israel Antiquities Authority )

The Oldest Basket In The World?

The oldest find on the list of outstanding discoveries was recovered from Muraba‘at Cave, 18 km (11.2 miles) south of Qumran. It is a woven basket , complete with lid. It has been dated to the Neolithic period, around 10,500 years ago, and the IAA claim this is possibly the oldest complete basket ever to be found anywhere in the world.

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These finds are highlights of what has been deemed an extremely successful archaeological search and rescue operation.


2,000-Year-Old Manuscripts Of Biblical Prophets Discovered In Judean Desert

--> (Photo : © Twitter/CAGFBC) Bishop Paul S. Morton at his worships with his congregation at Changing A Generation Full Gospel Baptist Church in Atlanta, Ga., on Sunday March 15, 2020. --> (Photo : Casey L. Olson and Oren Gutfeld / Hebrew University) Oren Gutfeld and Ahiad Ovadia survey a cave in the Qumran region. Taken from an earlier operation.

A number of biblical scroll fragments, featuring the books of Zechariah and Nahum, were found in a cave in the Judean Desert.

Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced on Tuesday about the discovery of the manuscript fragments in the Cave of Horror, as well as other artifacts. In partnership with Archaeology Department of the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria, the IAA launched an operation to save ancient artifacts from the caves in 2017. It was funded by the Ministry of Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage.

The study of the fragments, which is said to be 2,000 years old, was conducted by IAA's Dead Sea Scroll Unit, led by Dr. Oren Ableman, Beatriz Riestra and Tanya Bitler.

"More than 80 fragments of different sizes have been uncovered, some of them carrying text, some not. Based on the script, we dated them to the end of the first century BCE, which means that by the time it was brought to the cave, the scroll was already a century old," Ableman shared, speaking to The Jerusalem Post.

In accordance with the researchers' assessment, the fragments matched with those that were discovered by Yochanan Aharoni in 1953. They include portions of the scroll of the book of Zechariah written in Greek, but the name of God was retained in paleo-Hebrew language.

Ableman said that such manner may had been done to show the "importance of the name of God."

The excerpts deciphered using the fragments reportedly formed Zechariah 8:16-17.

"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 verses say.

In the fragments, the word "streets" was used instead of "gates."

Ableman said that they have never seen like it before.

"In this manuscript, we can see the effort of the translators to remain closer to the original Hebrew compared to what happened with the Septuagint," Riestra said, reacting on the manner of translation.

She further said that the practice of retaining the name of God in Hebrew language was already observed in other Dead Sea Scroll fragments discovered years ago, as well as in other manuscripts of Cairo Genizah.

Atlanta Jewish Times revealed that verses Nahum 1:5-6 were also reconstructed by the unit.

In addition to fragments of the biblical manuscripts, the team also found Bar Kochba Revolt coins, 6,000-year old mummified child and a well-preserved woven basket which is believed to be 10,500 years old.

The bronze coins bear a vine leaf and a palm tree.

Donald Ariel, head of IAA's Coin Department, stated that having coins is an expression of freedom during those times. In addition, he said that the palm tree was Judea's "quintessential symbol," which the Romans also used in their Judea Capta coins.

The skeleton of a child, discovered in a shallow pit, has undergone a process of natural mummification. It was found in fetal position and was wrapped in a blanket.

The prehistoric basket, with a capacity of 90 liters, is believed to be the oldest ever seen.

IAA Director Israel Hasson hopes that the discovery would encourage the country to support their operation.

"The aim of this national initiative is to rescue these rare and important heritage assets from the robbers' clutches. The newly discovered scroll fragments are a wake-up call to the state. Resources must be allocated for the completion of this historically important operation. We must ensure that we recover all the data that has not yet been discovered in the caves, before the robbers do. Some things are beyond value," Hasson stated.

Hananya Hizmi, head staff officer of Archaeology Department, said that the discoveries have "shed even more light on the different periods and cultures of the region."

"The finds attest to a rich, diverse and complex way of life, as well as to the harsh climatic conditions that prevailed in the region hundreds and thousands of years ago," Hizmi further stated.


Rare ancient scroll found in Israel Cave of Horror

The dozens of pieces of parchment were written in Greek, with just the name of God appearing in Hebrew.

The scroll is believed to have belonged to Jewish rebels who fled to the hills following a failed revolt against Roman rule in the 2nd Century.

They were found during an operation to prevent caves in the area being looted.

It is the first such find of its kind since the early 1960s when similar fragments and some 40 skeletons were discovered at the site which became known as the Cave of Horror.

The newly found remnants contain verses from the books of Zechariah and Nahum, which form part of writings known as the Book of the Twelve Minor Prophets.

The parchment had been written in Greek, the language adopted after the conquest of Judea by Alexander the Great in the 4th Century BC. The name of God, though, exclusively appears in Hebrew.

Israel Antiquities Authority's (IAA) director Israel Hasson said the scroll and other relics found there were "of immeasurable worth for mankind".

A cache of rare coins from the period of the Jewish revolt, a 6,000-year-old mummified skeleton of a child and a large intact basket dating from about 10,500 years ago were also discovered at the site.

Located some 80m (260ft) beneath a cliff-top, the cave is practically inaccessible and could only be reached by teams abseiling down to it.

The expedition was part of what the IAA called a "complex and challenging" operation to protect the network of caves from antiquities looters.

Searches of the cliffs and caves in the Judean Desert have yielded a treasure trove of finds over decades, including the world famous Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest known copies of Biblical books.


Several Symbolic Dead Sea Scroll Fragments Discovered In Judean Cave

A team of Israeli archaeologists on Tuesday discovered dozens of fragments bearing biblical verses, from a Judean cave. Believed to be the Dead Sea Scroll fragments, the pieces unearthed feature portions of the books of the Twelve Minor Prophets, including those of Zechariah and Nahum.

Retrieved from the ‘Cave of Horror’ in the Judean Desert reserve’s Nahal Hever, which was believed to provide shelter to Jewish rebels against the Roman Empire, where they hid around 1,900 years ago, according to a government press release, the scrolls are the first major biblical scroll discovery in the past 60 years. First discovered 70 years ago in caves around Qumran, the Dead Sea Scrolls are among archaeology’s most significant scriptural finds, containing the oldest versions of the Hebrew Bible and other Jewish texts that date to the time of Jesus. Most of the scrolls are kept at the Shrine of the Book, part of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

Source: Smithsonian Magazine

The parchment fragments were discovered as part of an operation launched by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) in 2017 to prevent looting in the Judean Desert. The Dead Sea Scrolls include the earliest known copies of the biblical texts and are therefore considered the most important archaeological discovery of the 20th century. “The aim of this national initiative is to rescue these rare and important heritage assets from the robbers’ clutches,” said Israel Hasson, director of Israel’s Antiquities Authority, who called for more resources to complete the recovery operation especially since the cave is around 80 meters (262 feet) below a clifftop in the Judean Desert, and can only be reached by abseiling from the top.

“The desert team showed exceptional courage, dedication and devotion to purpose, rappelling down to caves located between heaven and earth, digging and sifting through them, enduring thick and suffocating dust, and returning with gifts of immeasurable worth for mankind. We must ensure that we recover all the data that has not yet been discovered in the caves before the robbers do. Some things are beyond value,” Hasson added.

Source: The Times of Israel

Meanwhile, apart from the scrolls, archaeologists also discovered the partially mummified skeleton of a 6-12-year-old child, buried in a shallow pit beneath two flat stones and wrapped in cloth, which dates back 6,000 years. They also uncovered a cache of rare coins from the days of Simon Bar-Kokhba that bear Jewish symbols and a complete basket believed to be the oldest in the world, dating back 10,500 years.


Ancient biblical scroll fragments discovered in Israeli cave of horror

In an operation that would put Indiana Jones to shame, a huge anti-looting dig carried out in the Judean Desert has unearthed historical finds of great significance, including fragments of ancient biblical scrolls, the 6,000-year-old skeleton of a young child, coins used by Jewish rebels and the oldest woven basket known to mankind.

The operation began in 2017, when the Israel Antiquities Authority, government agencies and volunteers set to survey 50 miles of caves in the Dead Sea area using drones, rappelling and mountain climbing techniques to access the almost unreachable caves.

The climatic conditions in these caves enabled the preservation of ancient documents like the Dead Sea Scrolls that include the earliest known copies of the Biblical Books and as such have drawn the attention of looters out to make a fortune. The dig&rsquos participants wanted to reach these sites before looters did and were rewarded with a plethora of important finds from various periods.

Also dating to the time of the Bar Kochba Revolt, archaeologists found a cache of rare coins bearing Jewish symbols such as a harp and a date palm, as well as arrowheads, woven fabric, sandals and even lice combs.

Fragments of a Greek scroll of the Book of the Twelve Minor Prophets, for example, were discovered in a cave where Jewish rebels hid almost 1,900 years ago. They are the first biblical scrolls to be discovered in the area in the past 60 years and were located in the Cave of Horror &mdash a 260-foot drop from the cliff&rsquos top reached only by rope.

The Cave of Horror was also found to contain the partially mummified skeleton of a child wrapped in cloth that dates back some 6,000 years. Researchers believe that the child was probably a girl and was 6 to 12 years old at the time of her death.

&ldquoOn moving two flat stones, we discovered a shallow pit intentionally dug beneath them, containing a skeleton of a child placed in a fetal position,&rdquo said IAA prehistorian Ronit Lupu. &ldquoIt was covered with a cloth around its head and chest, like a small blanket, with its feet protruding from it. It was obvious that whoever buried the child had wrapped him up and pushed the edges of the cloth beneath him, just as a parent covers his child in a blanket. A small bundle of cloth was clutched in the child&rsquos hands.&rdquo

Another find, this time revealed by volunteering youth, was a huge, intact woven basket with a lid that dates back some 10,500 years, providing information on storage in the times before the invention of pottery. The researchers believe it to be the oldest such basket to be found in the world and note that it was preserved so well due to arid conditions.

&ldquoWe must ensure that we recover all the data that has not yet been discovered in the caves, before the robbers do. Some things are beyond value,&rdquo said IAA director Israel Hasson. &ldquoThe desert team showed exceptional courage, dedication and devotion to purpose, rappelling down to caves located between heaven and earth, digging and sifting through them, enduring thick and suffocating dust, and returning with gifts of immeasurable worth for mankind.&rdquo

Ancient biblical scroll fragments discovered in Israeli Cave of Horror appeared first on ISRAEL21c.


Ancient Biblical Scroll Fragments Discovered In Israeli Cave Of Horror

In an operation that would put Indiana Jones to shame, a huge anti-looting dig carried out in the Judean Desert has unearthed historical finds of great significance, including fragments of ancient biblical scrolls, the 6,000-year-old skeleton of a young child, coins used by Jewish rebels and the oldest woven basket known to mankind.

The operation began in 2017, when the Israel Antiquities Authority, government agencies and volunteers set to survey 50 miles of caves in the Dead Sea area using drones, rappelling and mountain climbing techniques to access the almost unreachable caves.

The climatic conditions in these caves enabled the preservation of ancient documents like the Dead Sea Scrolls that include the earliest known copies of the Biblical Books and as such have drawn the attention of looters out to make a fortune. The dig&rsquos participants wanted to reach these sites before looters did and were rewarded with a plethora of important finds from various periods.

The ancient artifacts survived in prime conditions due to arid conditions in the caves.(Yaniv Berman/Israel Antiquities Authority)

Sections of the Book of the Twelve Minor Prophets scroll prior to their conservation. (Shai Halevi/Israel Antiquities Authority) Opening a scroll section in the Israel Antiquities Authority&rsquos conservation laboratory. (Shai Halevi/Israel Antiquities Authority) The ancient skeleton of a young child who was buried wrapped in cloth. (Emil Aladjem/Israel Antiquities Authority)

Also dating to the time of the Bar Kochba Revolt, archaeologists found a cache of rare coins bearing Jewish symbols such as a harp and a date palm, as well as arrowheads, woven fabric, sandals and even lice combs.

A rare cache of coins from the Bar Kokhba period. (Dafna Gazit/Israel Antiquities Authority) The 10,500-year-old basket as found by teen volunteers. (Yaniv Berman/Israel Antiquities Authority)

Fragments of a Greek scroll of the Book of the Twelve Minor Prophets, for example, were discovered in a cave where Jewish rebels hid almost 1,900 years ago. They are the first biblical scrolls to be discovered in the area in the past 60 years and were located in the Cave of Horror &mdash a 260-foot drop from the cliff&rsquos top reached only by rope.

The Cave of Horror was also found to contain the partially mummified skeleton of a child wrapped in cloth that dates back some 6,000 years. Researchers believe that the child was probably a girl and was 6 to 12 years old at the time of her death.

&ldquoOn moving two flat stones, we discovered a shallow pit intentionally dug beneath them, containing a skeleton of a child placed in a fetal position,&rdquo said IAA prehistorian Ronit Lupu. &ldquoIt was covered with a cloth around its head and chest, like a small blanket, with its feet protruding from it. It was obvious that whoever buried the child had wrapped him up and pushed the edges of the cloth beneath him, just as a parent covers his child in a blanket. A small bundle of cloth was clutched in the child&rsquos hands.&rdquo

The woven basket is believed to be the oldest such find in the world. (Yaniv Berman/Israel Antiquities Authority)

Another find, this time revealed by volunteering youth, was a huge, intact woven basket with a lid that dates back some 10,500 years, providing information on storage in the times before the invention of pottery. The researchers believe it to be the oldest such basket to be found in the world and note that it was preserved so well due to arid condition.

Archaeologists and volunteers faced cramped conditions during the digs.(Yoli Schwartz/Israel Antiquities Authority)

&ldquoWe must ensure that we recover all the data that has not yet been discovered in the caves, before the robbers do. Some things are beyond value,&rdquo said IAA director Israel Hasson. &ldquoThe desert team showed exceptional courage, dedication and devotion to purpose, rappelling down to caves located between heaven and earth, digging and sifting through them, enduring thick and suffocating dust, and returning with gifts of immeasurable worth for mankind.&rdquo


2000-year-old biblical manuscripts were just discovered in a Judean cave

An ancient biblical scroll was discovered in a cave, known as the "Cave of Horror" located in the Judean desert this week, marking the first time an artifact of this type has been discovered since the Dead Sea scrolls nearly 70 years ago, according to the Jpost.

The scroll, which was written in Greek with God’s name in paleo-Hebrew, includes portions of the Minor Prophets, including passages from Zechariah chapter eight and Nahum chapter one.

"The mountains quake before him, the hills melt, the earth heaves before him, the world and all who dwell in it. Who can stand before his indignation? Who can endure the heat of his anger? His wrath is poured out like fire, and the rocks are broken into pieces by him." — Nahum 1:5-6

Along with the ancient manuscript, which was dated to the end of the first century BCE—around the time that the Essenes began to form communities in the desert—coins with a palm tree and a vine leaf with the phrase, "Year 1 for the redemption of Israel," from the period of the Bar Kochba Revolt, and an exceptionally preserved basket were found in the cave. These finds add to a myriad of evidence confirming the Jewish historical presence in the biblical heartland.

It seems strange presenting this as “proof” that the Jews have a history in Judea. Yet the international community and many individuals and organizations around the world are determined to argue that the Jews have no right to Jewish land. They seek to disassociate Judea and Samaria from the Jewish people and ignore the historical and biblical evidence that Jews have lived in this Land for thousands of years. They claim that Israel is "illegally occupying" the "West Bank," when the Jewish people return to Land in which they have a long unbroken history land promised to them by God thousands of years ago.

The United Nations publishes resolution after resolution condemning Israel for resettling its own land, releases lists to boycott companies that are conducting business in what they call “Occupied Palestinian Territory,”—or as we know it, Judea and Samaria—and seeks to delegitimize Jews returning to rebuild the ancient heartland of Israel.

It was in Judea and Samaria that much of the Bible was written or took place, it was on Elon Moreh that God promised the land to Abraham and his descendants forever. It is in Judea and Samaria that Jews have continuously lived for thousands of years, and this latest discovery of a biblical scroll from 1,900 years ago, is just one example among countless others, of the Jewish peoples' claim to Judea and Samaria.

Ironically, it is sites like Jerusalem, Hebron, Shiloh, and Shechem, places with deep spiritual and historical significance to the Jewish people—even this cave which contains so much significant history—that the world says is not part of Israel, and should become part of a Palestinian state.

The international community seeks to erase history, change terms and definitions (West Bank instead of Judea and Samaria) and they condemn the beautiful restoration of the land by brave Jewish pioneers. Let us be those who believe the truth: that the biblical heartland belongs to the Jewish people, legally, historically, and morally. Let us also be those who act on our belief and do all we can to stand with the people of Judea and Samaria.


New Dead Sea Scrolls dating back nearly 2,000 years found in Israel

Israeli archaeologists Tuesday announced the discovery of dozens of new Dead Sea Scroll fragments bearing text from the Hebrew Bible and dating back about 1,900 years. The ancient fragments were found in a desert cave and believed hidden during a Jewish revolt against Rome.

The fragments of parchment bear lines of Greek text from the biblical books of Zechariah and Nahum and have been radiocarbon-dated to the 2nd century, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority. They are the first new scrolls found in archaeological excavations in the desert south of Jerusalem in 60 years.

The Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of Jewish texts found in desert caves in the West Bank near Qumran in the 1940s and 1950s, date from the 3rd century BC to the 1st century AD. They include the earliest-known copies of biblical texts and documents outlining the beliefs of a little-understood Jewish sect.

The roughly 80 new pieces are believed to belong to a set of parchment fragments found in a site 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. The cave is located in a remote canyon about 25 miles south of Jerusalem.

The artifacts were found during an operation in Israel and the occupied West Bank conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority to find scrolls and other artifacts to prevent possible plundering. Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East War, and international law prohibits the removal of cultural property from occupied territory. The authority held a news conference Tuesday to unveil the discovery.

The fragments are believed to have been stashed away in the cave during the Bar Kochba Revolt, an armed Jewish uprising against Rome during the reign of Emperor Hadrian, between AD 132 and 136. Coins struck by rebels and arrowheads found in other caves in the region also hail from that period.


(JNS) Israeli archaeologists announced on March 16 that dozens of Dead Sea Scroll fragments bearing biblical verses were discovered during a national archaeological operation in the Judean Desert. The scroll fragments are written in Greek and feature portions of the books of the Twelve Minor Prophets, including those of Zechariah and Nahum. They were retrieved from the Cave of Horror in the Judean Desert reserve’s Nahal Hever. It’s the first time in almost 60 years that an archaeological excavation has uncovered fragments of a biblical scroll. The parchment fragments were discovered as part of an operation launched by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) in 2017 to prevent looting in the Judean Desert.

In addition to the scroll fragments, archeologists also uncovered a cache of rare coins from the days of Simon Bar-Kokhba that bear Jewish symbols a 6,000-year-old partially mummified skeleton of a child, wrapped in cloth and a large complete basket dating back 10,500 years, making it likely the oldest in the world. IAA director Israel Hasson applauded the excavation team, saying, “The desert team showed exceptional courage, dedication and devotion to purpose, rappelling down to caves located between heaven and earth, digging and sifting through them, enduring thick and suffocating dust, and returning with gifts of immeasurable worth for mankind.”

The Dead Sea Scrolls include the earliest known copies of the biblical texts and are therefore considered the most important archaeological discovery of the 20th century.

Main Photo: Archaeological excavations at Qumran in southern Israel. Credit: Shai Halevi/ Israel Antiquities Authority.


Ancient Biblical Scroll Fragments Discovered In Israeli Cave Of Horror

In an operation that would put Indiana Jones to shame, a huge anti-looting dig carried out in the Judean Desert has unearthed historical finds of great significance, including fragments of ancient biblical scrolls, the 6,000-year-old skeleton of a young child, coins used by Jewish rebels and the oldest woven basket known to mankind.

The operation began in 2017, when the Israel Antiquities Authority, government agencies and volunteers set to survey 50 miles of caves in the Dead Sea area using drones, rappelling and mountain climbing techniques to access the almost unreachable caves.

The climatic conditions in these caves enabled the preservation of ancient documents like the Dead Sea Scrolls that include the earliest known copies of the Biblical Books and as such have drawn the attention of looters out to make a fortune. The dig’s participants wanted to reach these sites before looters did and were rewarded with a plethora of important finds from various periods.

The ancient artifacts survived in prime conditions due to arid conditions in the caves.(Yaniv Berman/Israel Antiquities Authority)

Sections of the Book of the Twelve Minor Prophets scroll prior to their conservation. (Shai Halevi/Israel Antiquities Authority) Opening a scroll section in the Israel Antiquities Authority’s conservation laboratory. (Shai Halevi/Israel Antiquities Authority) The ancient skeleton of a young child who was buried wrapped in cloth. (Emil Aladjem/Israel Antiquities Authority)

Also dating to the time of the Bar Kochba Revolt, archaeologists found a cache of rare coins bearing Jewish symbols such as a harp and a date palm, as well as arrowheads, woven fabric, sandals and even lice combs.

A rare cache of coins from the Bar Kokhba period. (Dafna Gazit/Israel Antiquities Authority) The 10,500-year-old basket as found by teen volunteers. (Yaniv Berman/Israel Antiquities Authority)

Fragments of a Greek scroll of the Book of the Twelve Minor Prophets, for example, were discovered in a cave where Jewish rebels hid almost 1,900 years ago. They are the first biblical scrolls to be discovered in the area in the past 60 years and were located in the Cave of Horror — a 260-foot drop from the cliff’s top reached only by rope.

The Cave of Horror was also found to contain the partially mummified skeleton of a child wrapped in cloth that dates back some 6,000 years. Researchers believe that the child was probably a girl and was 6 to 12 years old at the time of her death.

“On moving two flat stones, we discovered a shallow pit intentionally dug beneath them, containing a skeleton of a child placed in a fetal position,” said IAA prehistorian Ronit Lupu. “It was covered with a cloth around its head and chest, like a small blanket, with its feet protruding from it. It was obvious that whoever buried the child had wrapped him up and pushed the edges of the cloth beneath him, just as a parent covers his child in a blanket. A small bundle of cloth was clutched in the child’s hands.”

The woven basket is believed to be the oldest such find in the world. (Yaniv Berman/Israel Antiquities Authority)

Another find, this time revealed by volunteering youth, was a huge, intact woven basket with a lid that dates back some 10,500 years, providing information on storage in the times before the invention of pottery. The researchers believe it to be the oldest such basket to be found in the world and note that it was preserved so well due to arid condition.

Archaeologists and volunteers faced cramped conditions during the digs.(Yoli Schwartz/Israel Antiquities Authority)

“We must ensure that we recover all the data that has not yet been discovered in the caves, before the robbers do. Some things are beyond value,” said IAA director Israel Hasson. “The desert team showed exceptional courage, dedication and devotion to purpose, rappelling down to caves located between heaven and earth, digging and sifting through them, enduring thick and suffocating dust, and returning with gifts of immeasurable worth for mankind.”