Twelfth Dead Sea Scrolls Cave discovered west of Qumran

Discovery announced on Wednesday; 12th cave did not contain scrolls as with previous discoveries; Excavation to continue with more “significant discoveries” in coming days

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Archeologists announced on Wednesday the discovery of a twelfth Dead Sea Scroll Cave in Qumran in southern Israel.

Archeologists and researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem confirmed the discovery of the cave west of Qumran from part of an excavation that began in December. The Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria, Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority, and the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) in conjunction with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem carried out the excavation for the past two months.

The archeologists found pieces of parchment dating to the first century AD, as well as a leather strap that was used to bind the scrolls. Jars used to store the scrolls, as well as several pieces of clothe were also found during the excavation.

Head of the excavation from the Hebrew University’s Institute of Archaeology Oren Gutfeld confirmed the cave’s discovery stating “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 twelfth cave,” adding that maybe there are even more caves not yet discovered.”

He confirmed the finding of “parchment rolled up in a jug that was being processed for writing,” explaining that the findings indicate “beyond any doubt that the cave contained scrolls that were stolen.” He stated “The findings include the jars in which the scrolls and their covering were hidden, a leather strap for binding the scroll, a cloth that wrapped the scrolls, tendons and pieces of skin connecting fragments, and more.”

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As with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls caves beginning from 1947, the twelfth discovered cave was found with no scrolls and obvious signs of thievery from pickaxes, consistent with previous cave discoveries.

The first stolen scrolls were found in the 1947 by Israeli archeologists on the black market with over 850 scrolls found to date, many of which are on display Rockefeller Museum in East Jerusalem as well as at the Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

The scrolls were written between 150 BC to 70 AD, most of the scrolls found dating to the Second Temple period. The scrolls include both Biblical and non-Biblical texts, written in Hebrew, Aramaic and some in Greek. Around 230 scrolls contain Biblical text, including 19 copies of the Book of Isaiah, 25 copies of Deuteronomy and 30 copies of the Psalms.

The excavation will continue, the archeologists announcing several other “significant discoveries” to be announced in the coming days.