An international team of researchers from Israel and the United States have discovered evidence of a cave that reportedly housed Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of historically significant ancient manuscripts including copies of the Hebrew Bible.
The ancient cave in question was discovered in the hills of Wadi Qumran in the Judean Desert. Inside the cave, the researchers found only fragments of ancient manuscripts and some storage jars and lids from the Second Temple period (dated from 530 BC to 70 CE). Since the early 1940s, 12 such caves have been discovered.
Oren Gutfeld, an archeologist from the Hebrew University, said in a statement that the newly discovered cave is one of the most exciting and the most important archaeological discoveries in the last six decades.
Speaking about the discovery, Gutfeld said, “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.”
The researchers also found evidence that the scrolls were stolen. They found a couple of iron pickaxe heads from the 1950s, which indicated that the cave had been looted.
The discovery of the twelfth cave resulted from the first excavation of “Operation Scroll,” an across-the-board search operation for discovering undiscovered Dead Sea Scrolls.