Archaeologists searching for Dead Sea Scrolls manuscripts have stumbled across 2,000-year-old pottery that could contain never-before-seen historical material.
The story of the Dead Sea Scrolls can be traced back to 1947 when young Bedouin goat herders decided to peer into a nearby cavern to see what’s inside. As they did, they made one of the biggest archaeological discoveries of the 20th century: they found seven rolled parchments covered in ancient Hebrew script, which turned out to be the first of the famous Dead Sea Scrolls.
Throughout the years, archaeologists discovered countless manuscripts dating back as far as the third century BC, and are among the oldest Biblical texts ever discovered.
The Qumran caves are located in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. This has led many people to consider that archaeological work done there by American experts to be illegal under international law. However, this fact has not discouraged experts to try and salvage the historically valuable artifacts hidden deep inside the caves.
New Caves: New Hope
Recently, it has been reported that two brand new caves were found near Qumran.
Both caves, dubbed 53b and 53c, are near caves that were home to the already-discovered Dead Sea Scrolls, and the archaeological team is not done investigating the sites.
In a paper presented during the American Schools of Oriental Research annual meeting in Denver (Nov. 14-17), archaeologists Randall Price of Liberty University and Oren Gutfeld of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem explain that cave 53b has yielded surprising artifacts.
Earlier this year, the group of archaeologists came across a rare bronze cooking pot as well as an ancient oil lamp.
As explained by Live Science, the bronze cooking pot found in cave 53b is believed to date back to sometime between 100 B.C. and 15 B.C., when people were living at Qumran.
Furthermore, the design of the lamp is similar to lamps found at Qumran, Price explained, suggesting that the people who lived at Qumran used the cave in the past.
“Other finds included large amounts of pottery representing store jars, flasks, cups, and cooking pots, and fragments of woven textiles, braided ropes, and string,” the scientists explain in a study.
The Qumran caves have been heavily looted in the past. Thankfully, not everything was taken from the caves as artifacts have been found in recent times.
“The significance of this discovery involves the new evidence it provides that the caves south of Qumran represent sealed loci, despite the attempts by Bedouin to loot these sites,” Gutfeld and Price explain in their study.
But perhaps the most important discovery was made inside cave 53c, where researchers discovered a fragment of a scroll jar, which suggests that scrolls were once stored in that cave.
New Archaeological excavations are underway in cave 53c that will hopefully reveal if it still contains any scrolls.
“This cave was robbed by Bedouins maybe 40 years ago,” explains Price. “Fortunately for us, they didn’t dig very deep. Our hope is that if we keep digging, we hit the mother lode.”