The Dead Sea scrolls, a collection of ancient manuscript fragments that were found in a system of twelve caves, were one of the most significant archaeological finds ever made. Now, archaeologists are excavating a newly discovered cave in Qumran and are crossing their fingers that they may contain further Dead Sea Scrolls.
The Dead Sea Scrolls are about two thousand years old. They aren't "scrolls" so much as they're paper fragments, originating from an estimated nine hundred or more ancient manuscripts. Among the texts represented are some that are from the Hebrew Bible.
The Bible was written in Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic, and its original authors' identities are still contested by historians. One theory proposes that the Qumran scrolls were written by the Essenes, a Jewish sect.
The new cave is found in the West Bank of Palestine, very close to where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered between 1947 and 1956. The scrolls were given their name for the caves' proximity to the Dead Sea.
The new cave, the twelfth in the complex, was found in 2017. Unfortunately, there is evidence that the site was tampered with sometime in the middle of the 20th century. During their initial investigation, archaeologists, led by Oren Gutfield of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Institute of Archaeology, were able to recover a blank scroll, along with pieces of jars, cloth and leather.
Now, Randall Price of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia is joining Gutfield in a further archaeological excavation. They are hopeful that the new cave may contain artifacts more significant than the ones already found.
According to Price, "Dr. Gutfield and I have been at Qumran since December, working with our team on excavating a new cave in the Qumran area." Price promises that he and the research team will issue a public statement about their finds if and when they are made
The Israel Antiques Authority has been aggressively pursuing any archaeological leads they find in the Judean Desert since 2016. This is in response too a number of looting incidents, in which people have been captured with ancient scrolls in their possession.
The Israel Antiques Authority believes that it is possible archaeologists may discover new caves that may contain more Dead Sea Scrolls. After Jerusalem was sacked by the Roman army, it became a common practice to hide scrolls in caves. Jewish scholars also hid documents in caves between 132 and 136 AD, when there was a foiled uprising against Roman occupation.