For nearly 60 years, Israeli researchers finally uncovered fragments of a 2,000-year-old Dead Sea Scroll inside a dangerously remote location called the “Cave of Horror.”
The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) proudly announced its startling discovery. “For the first time in approximately 60 years, archaeological excavations have uncovered fragments of a biblical scroll,” Oren Ableman, a member of the IAA Dead Sea Scrolls Unit revealed. He continued, “These are new pieces of the puzzle and we can add them to our greater picture of the period and of the text.”
The IAA shared that the scrolls bear Greek translations of the books from the Twelve Minor Prophets including Zechariah and Nahum. The team was able to decipher a fragment of the text that reads, “These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to one another, render true and perfect justice in your gates.”
The Greek text is different from the original Dead Sea Scrolls which were written in Arabic and Hebrew and were initially discovered by local Bedouin shepherds in the caves of Qumran. Experts believe that the newly discovered text will provide an insight into the development of the Greek language in the area.
Located near the western shore of the Dead Sea, the Cave of Horror sits 80 meters below the canyon. The cave was extremely remote and researchers had to rappel down the cliff using a 100-meter rope to reach its opening
Experts believed that the scroll belonged to Jewish refugees who took shelter in the Cave during the Bar Kochba revolt. The remains were eventually discovered in the 1960s when researchers unearthed the bodies of 40 men, women, and children. The gruesome discovery led the site to earn its infamous nickname the “Cave of Horror.”
Evidence of the refugee’s grisly death suggests that the group has been besieged by Roman troops who camped on top of the cliff. Experts claimed that the remains did not bear any marks or injuries which suggests that the inhabitants possibly died as a result of starvation.
In fact, it was a sole of a Roman sandal that led one of the researchers into the site. In an interview for Haaretz, Oriya Amichay, a member of the excavation team, claimed that she found the sole while going on a bathroom break. “I crouched to pee and suddenly I saw something that didn’t look like sand, and I realized it was the sole of a shoe.”
Along with the fragments of the Dead Sea Scroll, researchers also unearthed the world’s oldest basket which dates back to over 10,000 years and held the remains of a child.
However, the project is not without its controversies. The site is one of the 600 caves in a 45-mile stretch of cliffs, which originally belong to the Palestinian territory. However, the Israeli military took control of the area in the late 1960s after they had captured the West Bank from the Jordanian forces.
Since it initially belonged to Palestine, the Israeli excavation generally violated International laws which prohibit the removal of cultural property from occupied territory. In their defense, the Israeli government maintained that they can conduct emergency excavations in fear that looters and robbers might take advantage of the situation.