According to archaeologists, two newly-discovered caves located near Qumran in the West Bank in Israel may contain more Dead Sea Scrolls. The caves referred to as 53b and 53c are at the site where the original Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. Archaeologists believe that after further exploration, they would find more of these Biblical scrolls.
Signs such as wrappings and fragments indicating that the scrolls were stored in the caves were seen.
Written by an ascetic sect between 150 BC and the Roman conquest in 70 AD, the Dead Sea Scrolls are ancient manuscripts that are composed of 2,000-year old Hebrew and Aramaic scrolls. These were found in cliffs near the Dead Sea 70 years ago. The scrolls consisted of 981 manuscripts and about 50,000 fragments that were discovered in eleven caves. Since 1967, a large number of Dead Sea Scrolls were found in Israel.
There were no new manuscripts that were discovered. However, signs such as wrappings and fragments indicating that the scrolls were stored in the caves were seen. According to Liberty University Professor Randall Price, head archaeologist, the Bedouin robbed the cave about 40 years ago. Fortunately for us, they didn’t dig very deep. Our hope is that if we keep digging, we hit the mother lode.”
Professor Price and Oren Gutfeld from Hebrew University of Jerusalem led the exploration of Qumran. They were members of the team that found Cave 53 last year. It was the 12th cave of its kind to be discovered in Qumran.
The significance of this discovery involves the new evidence it provides that the caves south of Qumran represent sealed loci, despite the attempts by Bedouin to loot these sites.
Since the discovery of Cave 53 in January, archaeologists found what seemed to be significant evidence for the existence of more scrolls. They found a blank piece of parchment and storage jars that were similar to those that were found in other caves at Qumran. They likewise discovered a bronze cooking pot that was estimated to be from the first century BC, as well as an almost intact oil lamp dating to the Hellenistic-Hasmonean period. Cooking utensils and textile fragments were also found, although these have to be examined first to assess if these prove that more Dead Sea Scrolls were stored in the cave.
In an abstract to a paper for the American Schools for Oriental Research, Price and Gutfeld said, “The significance of this discovery involves the new evidence it provides that the caves south of Qumran represent sealed loci, despite the attempts by Bedouin to loot these sites.” They also added the connection of these caves to the community of Qumran and how the cave discovered last year is related to the one found this year.
A few weeks ago, the US Museum of the Bible revealed that five of their Dead Sea Scroll fragments were proven to be fake.