A team of Hebrew University archeologists, along with staff and students from Liberty University in Virginia, discovered a 12th cave where Dead Sea Scrolls were once stashed. It was previously thought only 11 caves contained such treasures, but researchers have found conclusive evidence that additional scrolls were once present in a 12th cave.
During the Second Temple period, Jews used the caves near Qumran to hide scrolls containing the Hebrew Bible and other non-Biblical texts. The scrolls were written on parchment and tucked away in caves, protected from wind, rain and other weather elements. Qumran is near the Dead Sea and is one of the most arid places in Israel, making it conducive to the preservation of parchments. In addition, the scrolls were put in earthen vessels.
Once the Romans completely drove the Jews from the land in the mid-130’s (following the Bar Kochba Revolt), it is believed the scrolls remained hidden away in the caves until 1947 when a bedouin shepherd in search of lost sheep stumbled upon them. Thinking a sheep may have wandered into a cave, but knowing the cave might also be home to wild animals, the shepherd boy picked up a rock and hurled it into the cave to scare out a lost sheep (or a wild animal!) Interestingly, though, the sound heard was not that of an animal being frightened by a thrown projectile, but the sound of a clay vessel breaking.
Upon entering, the shepherd boy discovered parchments rolled up and stored in clay jars. Many more were stored in other caves nearby. Ultimately, most of the treasured scrolls were removed and sold on the black market. While many are unaccounted for and likely destroyed, over 200 scrolls have been recovered, including 19 copies of Isaiah, 25 copies of Deuteronomy and 30 copies of Psalms. Some are on display in Jerusalem’s Rockefeller Museum and the Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum.
The recently-found cave was looted long ago, but reveals key evidence that scrolls were once hidden there.
“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,” Oren Gutfeld, an archaeologist at the Hebrew University’s Institute of Archaeology and director of the excavation, said in a statement.
“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.”
~FoxNews online (2/8/17)