Scraps of 1900-year-old parchment with a few words from the Old Testament have been found in caves near Jerusalem.
The scores of pieces are the first texts to be added to the ancient Dead Sea Scrolls after 60 years of exploration in the Judean desert. The discovery, announced March 16 by the Israel Antiquities Authority, gives scholars their earliest gllimpse of a few phrases in Greek translations of the Books of Nahum and Zechariah.
Carbon-dating has traced the fragments to the Bar Kokhba Revolt (132–136 A.D)., when Jews resisted the Roman Emperor Hadrian. The fragments, along with coins and arrowheads, were recovered from the Cave of Horrors, where earlier excavations identified remains of dozens of men, women, and children hiding from the Roman army..
“When we think about the biblical text, we think about something very static,” said Joe Uziel, head of the IAA’s Dead Sea Scrolls unit. “It wasn’t static. There are slight differences (among the scrolls), and some of those differences are important.”
The recent IAA investigations at the Cave of Horrors are part of a campaign to survey hundreds of secluded caves in canyons 25 miles south of Jerusalem. The Israeli scholars saying they are trying to head off looting of artifacts in the West Bank area. The project,. which began in 2017, has recovered an exceptionally well-preserved woven basket dating to 10,500 years ago, and the mummified remains of a child who was laid to rest in a cave more than 6,000 years ago.
(This article was condensed from the Biblical Archaeologicial Review.. Issues of the Review are available in the New Church Family library.)