There is great excitement as Israeli archaeologists have just discovered new Dead Sea Scrolls in the Cave of Skulls, which is located close to the Dead Sea. These new finds are small fragments of scrolls and it is unclear what language they were written in. Archaeologists are unsure as to whether the language is Aramaic or Hebrew, and there is the possibility that they could be in another language, as Haaretz has reported.
The very first Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in quite an extraordinary way. A Bedouin shepherd was said to have tossed a pebble into a cave near Qumran and heard a cracking sound in the distance. Inside the cave a jar was found, and the Dead Sea Scrolls were revealed to the world.
Between the years 1947 and 1956, there were 870 separate scrolls that were found in the Judean Desert, i24News reported. Some of these scrolls is the oldest example that we currently have of the Ten Commandments. While some of these scrolls were totally intact, some of them had broken apart into many smaller fragments. Thanks to advances in technology, many of these Dead Sea Scrolls were able to be properly deciphered.
With the newest Dead Sea Scroll fragments that have been found, Israeli authorities have explained that there will need to be a thorough analysis of them in order to properly decipher the writing. Dr. Uri Davidovich, one of the scientists that is working on this case, has stated that one of the aspects the archaeological team will be working on will be trying to see if they can manage to connect these small fragments of tablets with others.
“The most important thing that can come out of these fragments is if we can connect them with other documents that were looted from the Judean Desert, and that have no known provenance.”
The discovery of these new Dead Sea Scrolls came about through a salvage operation that was being conducted by the Israel Antiques Authority and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and lasted for three weeks. What size are the latest addition to the Dead Sea Scrolls? The papyri fragments that were found are around two by two centimeters.
Earlier in the year, a new project was started between computer science experts and Israeli scholars that will aid researchers in identifying “connections between various fragments and manuscripts.” This will project will also help to create an “enhanced hands-on virtual work space that will allow scholars around the world to work together simultaneously, as well as a new platform for collaborative production and publication of Dead Sea Scrolls editions.”
New information will be able to be gleaned from these new Dead Sea Scrolls with the help of projects such as these. Earlier in July, for instance, digital scanning tools were successfully used in order to help “virtually unwrap” what is thought to be the most ancient piece of Old Testament scripture.
The new Dead Sea Scroll fragments were discovered in what looked like dumped materials in heaps, and it seems highly likely that the fragments were left behind by looters that had been scavenging the area. In fact, the recent expedition and excavation was planned back in May, with one of the main reasons for it being that Israeli authorities were keen to stop looters from both collecting and destroying valuable relics. Other items that were also found near the fragments of Dead Sea Scrolls included wooden lice combs, stone vessels, textiles, pottery shards and beads.
If you are wondering how the Cave of the Skulls derived its name, it is because the skulls of seven humans were discovered here during other excavations.
As this is a location that is rich with so much ancient history, what might archaeologists discover on future expeditions and what language do you think these new Dead Sea Scrolls will be in?
[Featured Image by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images]