Archeologists in Israel discovered a 12th cave they believe once housed the Dead Sea Scrolls after finding historical artifacts proving they had been stored there. If they are right, it would be the latest “scroll cave” discovered in over 60 years, Harretz reported Wednesday.
Researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Institute of Archeology found Cave 12, in the archeological site in Qumran, Israel, close to the location where the first Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1947 in the West Bank. Until the announcement, it was believed that 11 caves had once contained the scrolls.
Cave 12 contained shattered pottery jars, which held the scrolls, scroll casings and strips of cloth that tied the scrolls, which were all over 2,000 years old, one of the project’s head researchers, Dr. Oren Gutfeld from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Researchers announced that the cave likely held the Dead Sea Scrolls after discovering empty lidded pottery jars similar to the ones found inside of Cave 8. While archeologists found a piece of parchment rolled up in one of the jars from the Second Temple period, which was the same era the Dead Sea scrolls were made in (530 BC to 70 AD), it was blank.
The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of 972 manuscripts containing parts of what is now known as the Hebrew Bible. In addition to being one of the earliest copies of the Ten Commandments, it is also comprised of secular texts, such as calendars, astronomical information and community regulations. These can now be viewed at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
Researchers said the Dead Sea Scrolls that used to be in the cave were likely stolen by Bedouins in the middle of the 20th century after finding two iron pickaxe heads from the 1950’s inside.
“Although at the end of the day no scroll was found, and instead we ‘only’ found a piece of parchment rolled up in a jug that was being processed for writing, the findings indicate beyond any doubt that the cave contained scrolls that were stolen,” said Gutfeld.