Archaeologists in Israel have unveiled a stunning find, announcing this week that "dozens" of new Dead Sea Scroll fragments were found inside of a cave — the first such discovery in 60 years.
The Israel Antiquities Authority said that contents written in Greek from the Books of Zechariah and Nahum were found among the fragments, with experts noting that the scrolls were likely hidden during the Bar Kochba Revolt, a Jewish revolt against Rome that unfolded around 1,900 years ago.
These exciting fragments — which date back to the first century — offer what CBS News called "a rare window into the history of Judaism, early Christian life, and humankind."
The findings were part of an archaeological project that spanned four years. While hundreds of caves have reportedly already been surveyed, there are still hundreds to go.
"The desert team showed exceptional courage, dedication and devotion to purpose, rappelling down to caves located between heaven and earth," Israel Hasson, director of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said, according to the NY Times.
While numerous looters have purportedly found fragments in past years, no archaeologists have discovered anything since the Dead Sea Scrolls were found decades ago. The ongoing recovery project has sought to protect any remaining artifacts in the caves, which led to this current find.
"We said, we need to get to these things before the robbers do," Amir Ganor, the head of Israel Antiquities Authority's efforts to stop looting, said in a statement.
The Associated Press has more about the location of the find:
The roughly 80 new pieces are believed to belong to a set of parchment fragments found in a site in southern Israel known as the “Cave of Horror” — named for the 40 human skeletons found there during excavations in the 1960s — that also bear a Greek rendition of the Twelve Minor Prophets, a book in the Hebrew Bible. The cave is located in a remote canyon around 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of Jerusalem.
In addition to the new Dead Sea Scrolls, a number of other fascinating findings were unearthed, including a 10,500-year-old basket which might end up being the oldest intact basket in the world as well as a 6,000-year-old child's remains that are described as "partially mummified."
The Dead Sea Scrolls were initially found in 1947 around the same area and have been widely viewed as a spectacular archaeological discovery — one offering a deep lens into history.
"The discovery of the Judean Desert scrolls, commonly known as the Dead Sea scrolls, is perhaps the most important archaeological discovery of the twentieth century," the Israel Antiquities Authority notes on its website (read more here).
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