Israeli archaeologists on Wednesday announced the discovery of dozens of new Dead Sea Scroll fragments bearing a biblical text found in a desert cave and believed hidden during a Jewish revolt against Rome nearly 1,900 years ago.
The fragments of parchment bear lines of Greek text from the books of Zechariah and Nahum and have been radiocarbon dated to the 2nd century AD, 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 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. The cave is located in a remote canyon in the Judean Desert south of Jerusalem.
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 132 and 136 AD.
The artifacts were found during an operation by the Israel Antiquities Authority in the Judean Desert to find scrolls and other artifacts to prevent possible plundering. The authority was holding a news conference Tuesday to unveil the discovery.
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 B.C. to the 1st century A.D. They include the earliest known copies of biblical texts and documents outlining the beliefs of a little understood Jewish sect.
The mummified remains of a child who lived about 6,000 years ago and fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls have been discovered at a legendary site in Israel known as the “Cave of Horror.”
Archaeologists also found a 10,000-year-old woven basket ¯ believed to be the oldest of its kind ¯ as well as a trove of ancient coins and clothing in the cave, which can only be reached by rappelling down a sheer cliff.
The Israel Antiquities Authority called the discoveries in the Judaean Desert “astounding” when it announced the find this week.
“This is a historic discovery, on an international level at this time,” Raz Frohlich, the director of the Ministry of Sports and Culture, said in a news release.
The agency said it found about 80 fragments of biblical texts ¯ the first new Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in more than half a century ¯ during a scientific excavation. Scholars were stunned by the 1,900-year-old fragments:—AP