Dead Sea Scrolls: a new cave discovery in Qumran

cover-r4x3w1000-589c82ce50bd5-Fragment de rouleau sans écriture, retrouvée dans la grotte Q12, à QUmran Crédits Casey L. Olson et Oren Gutfeld, Université Hébraïque

Archaeologists from the Hebrew University found a new cave that once contained rolls of the Dead Sea.

It’s stunning! I’ve been waiting for such a news for 20 years! „, Confesses Mireille Belis, historian and archaeologist at the French Biblical and Archaeological School (EBAF) in Jerusalem. The announcement of the discovery of a twelfth „manuscript“ cave in a cliff located to the west of Qumran in the Judean desert has indeed left all specialists speechless. It is precisely in these caves, located in the West Bank, about a dozen kilometers south of Jericho, where the famous rolls of the Dead Sea were discovered between 1947 and 1956. One of the greatest archaeological finds of the 20th century century.

The newspaper The Times of Israel announced this discovery in its February 8, 2017 release, as this new cavity has just been identified by researchers from the Hebrew University and the Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA).

Unfortunately, this had already been spotted by looters who emptied it, as evidenced by two picks handles abandoned on the spot in the 1950s. It will be subjected to a multi-spectral analysis.

A genuine capharnaum of broken pottery and remains of textiles have been found, the whole having served, in antiquity, to pack and protect these original documents, some of which go back to the origins of the Hebrew Bible. These writings were hidden in the 1st century AD when the Roman armies of Emperor Titus (68) destroyed Temple of Jerusalem and persecuted the Jewish communities who had thus sheltered their documents deemed the most precious.

Named „Q12“ (for Qumran 12), this new cave was discovered during the current great campaign of systematic excavations of the caves of the Judean Desert (Operation Scroll). It was recently launched by the Israeli authorities in order to foil the theft of antiques and the sale of fragments of original manuscripts, whose black market prices can reach a million dollars! These operations, considered as priorities, concern all regions of the Dead Sea. Among the finds were also flint blades and arrowheads from the Bronze Age (about 7000 years old), as well as a fragment of carnelian seal, proving that these caves, which are difficult to reach on the outskirts of the The Dead Sea, had served as shelters.