First ancient Bible texts found in 60 years in Dead Sea Scrolls discoveries

(Photo: Yoli Schwartz / Israel Antiquities Authority)Excavations in Muraba'at Cave.

Israeli researchers have unveiled dozens of newly discovered Dead Sea Scroll fragments of biblical texts dating back nearly 2,000 years, the first such find in 60 years.

The fragments are thought to have been hidden during a Jewish revolt against Rome, have been found in an Israeli desert, NBC News reported on March 16.

The Israel Antiquities Authority announced that a four-year archaeological project uncovered portions of the Book of the Twelve Minor Prophets, including the books of Zechariah and Nahum.

It was the first such discovery in 60 years.

Most of the scroll fragments are Greek translations of the books of Zechariah and Nahum from the Book of the Twelve Minor Prophets, and are written in two scribal hands, The Times of Israel reported.

(Photo: Yaniv Berman / Israel Antiquities Authority)10,500 year old basket.

Only the name of God is written in Hebrew in the texts.         

The fragments from the Prophets have been identified as coming from a larger scroll that was found in the 1950s, in the same "Cave of Horror" in Nahal Hever, which is some 80 meters (260 feet) below a cliff top.

The Israel Antiquities Authority press release said, the cave is "flanked by gorges and can only be reached by rappelling precariously down the sheer cliff.

In addition to the new biblical scroll fragments from the Books of the Minor Prophets, the team excavated a huge 10,500-year-old perfectly preserved woven basket, the oldest complete basket in the world.

There was also a 6,000-year-old mummified skeleton of a child, tucked into its blanket for a final sleep.

A CT scan revealed the child's age was between 6 and 12 — with the skin, tendons and even hair partially preserved, NBC reported.

Among the recovered texts, which are all in Greek, is Nahum 1:5–6, which says: "The mountains quake because of Him, And the hills melt.

"The earth heaves before Him, The world and all that dwell therein. Who can stand before His wrath? Who can resist His fury? His anger pours out like fire, and rocks are shattered because of Him."

Since 2017, the IAA has spearheaded an unprecedented rescue operation to salvage ancient artifacts from caves throughout the Judean Desert.

That effort stems from rampant looting that has occurred in the area since the much-heralded — and lucrative — discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls by Bedouin shepherds some 70 years ago, said the IAA.

"The desert team showed exceptional courage, dedication and devotion to purpose, rappelling down to caves located between heaven and earth, digging and sifting through them, enduring thick and suffocating dust, and returning with gifts of immeasurable worth for mankind," said Israel Antiquities Authority's director Israel Hasson, who led the widespread rescue operation, in the IAA press release.

(Photo: Shai Halevi / Israel Antiquities Authority)The Scrolls Fragments before conservation in the IAA Lab.
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