New Dead Sea Scrolls cave found near Qumran

A twelfth cave once containing Dead Sea Scrolls has been identified by archaeologists in the area of Qumran, Israel. The cave contained no scrolls but a small scrap of parchment in a jar and a collection of at least seven storage jugs identical to those found in the other caves were found.

Broken pottery from the cave (by Casey L. Olson & Oren Gutfeld)

The site is located in the cliffs West of Qumran, situated over the Green Line in the West Bank. Until now archaeologist have found only 11 caves at Qumran. The recent discoveries provide enough evidence for the researchers to consider the latest cave as a place where scrolls were kept until their plunder in the middle of 20th century. The bit of parchment and other organic remains have been dated to the first century AD, when the community at Qumran was active during the twilight of the Second Temple period (530 BC-70 AD).

Entrance to the cave (by Casey L. Olson & Oren Gutfeld)

Archaeologists were able to find items belonging to the Bedouin plunderers who dug the cave such as pickaxes dating to 1940s. They were found along ancient remains. Up to date nearly 1000 ancient Jewish texts, dated to between 6th century BC and 1st century AD, comprise a vast corpus of historical and religious documents that include the earliest known copies of biblical texts.

Cloth in which once the scrolls were wrapped in (by Casey L. Olson & Oren Gutfeld)

Among other finds discovered in the cavern were a leather strap for binding scrolls, a cloth for wrapping them, but also flint blades, arrowheads, and a carnelian stamp seal, all of which point to the cave’s inhabitation as far back as the Chalcolithic and the Neolithic periods.

Neolithic flint weapons (by Casey L. Olson & Oren Gutfeld)

According to archaeologists, the cave, bearing designation Q12 in the Qumran complex, and the finds inside indicate that the Judean Desert might hold other ancient scroll caches that await discovery.

Excavation at the site (by Casey L. Olson & Oren Gutfeld)

(after The Times of Israel, Casey L. Olson, Oren Gutfeld & CNN)

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