The First Dead Sea Scrolls Discovery In Over 50 Years

The Dead Sea Scrolls are some of the oldest texts in the world. The fragments of ancient writings have informed research into religion, history, and languages. And if you believe certain books, the scrolls may also contain secret Bible chapters.

People have spent decades trying to decode the scrolls — more than 900 have been found. Plus, they're thousands of years old, and you can't expect parchment and papyrus to be super legible after that long.

For many years, historians believed no other scrolls would be found after the last batch was recovered in the 1950s. But Israeli archaeologists announced the discovery of dozens of new Dead Sea scrolls, reported The New York Times on March 16, 2021.

As before, the scrolls were found in the caves surrounding the Judean Desert and were part of a four-year project by the Israeli government to prevent the looting of antiquities. CBC said the project involved people scouring ancient caves, searching for artifacts, and removing them to discourage bandits from looting and selling them in the black market.

They were found in a cave with a gruesome history

The new batch, about 80 in total, were found in a cave that's been dubbed the "Cave of Horror," located approximately 40 miles from Jerusalem. The cave was named for the 40 skeletons unearthed there in the 1960s. Those skeletons possibly belonged to Jewish refugees running from Roman rule.

The New York Times explained the scrolls, or to be more accurate, scroll fragments, were found along with rare coins dating from the Bar Kokhba revolts, around 132-136 CE, and an old basket.

Researchers managed to read some words from the fragments and deduced these contained verses from the Book of Zechariah, chapter 8, verses 16 to 17, and verses five to six from the first chapter of the Book of Nahum. Both books are classified among the minor prophets. Another of the newly-discovered fragments also included part of the ancient Hebrew word for God, reports The Times.

While these may be the first Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in decades, the Israeli project is still ongoing and may turn up more ancient finds.