Archaeologists working in a cave in Nahal Hever near the Dead Sea have discovered two dozen scroll fragments. Most are Greek translations of portions of Zechariah and Nahum. Also announced was the discovery of “the world’s oldest woven basket” and the mummified skeleton of a child.
The announcement this morning reported the results of an operation begun in 2017, and the archaeologists are seeking more governmental support to continue the hunt for ancient artifacts in the Judean desert. The Times of Israel reports:
The latest identified finds, two dozen 2,000-year-old biblical scroll fragments from the books of Zechariah and Nahum, were discovered in clumps and rolled up in the Cave of Horror. The conservation and study of the fragments was conducted by the IAA’s Dead Sea Scrolls Unit under Tanya Bitler, Dr. Oren Ableman and Beatriz Riestra.
The team has so far reconstructed 11 lines of Greek text that was translated from Zechariah 8:16–17, as well as verses from Nahum 1:5–6. They join nine, much more extant fragments that were discovered by Yochanan Aharoni, who first surveyed the Cave of Horrors in 1953.
On the new fragments, as well as in the Greek translation scroll discovered by Aharoni, only the name of God appears in Hebrew. It is written in the Paleo-Hebrew script used during the First Temple period, as well as by some adherents of the Bar Kochba revolt (132–136 CE), including on coinage, and in the Qumran community.
Fragments of the newly discovered Dead Sea Scrolls. Photo by Shai Halevi, Israel Antiquities Authority