Tel Aviv [Israel], March 17 (ANI): Israeli archaeologists have discovered fragments of scrolls with 2,000-year-old biblical texts in caves of the Dead Sea, as well as other ancient items, including coins and a skeleton of a child buried 6,000 years ago, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) said on Tuesday.
"For the first time in around 60 years, archaeologists have discovered fragments of a biblical scroll [in the Dead Sea area]. The scroll, mainly written in Greek, includes paragraphs from the book of the 12 Minor Prophets, including Zechariah and Nahum," the IAA said as quoted by Sputnik.
Since the discovery in the late 1940s of a series of manuscripts, which are dated from the first to third centuries A.D. and have great historical significance, no new documents have been found.
The Dead Sea's caves, which have a climate that preserves historical evidence throughout the ages, attracted so-called "black archaeologists," who look for ancient artifacts by putting their own lives at risk. IAA specialists, in cooperation with volunteers, scanned dozens of miles of desert caves with the use of drones.
"The goal of this national initiative is to save our rare and important heritage sites from the clutches of plunderers. The newly-discovered scroll fragments are a wake-up call for the state. Resources must be allocated to complete this historically important operation. We should make sure that we can find everything the caves are hiding," IAA director-general Israel Hasson said while speaking about the discovery.
Sputnik further reported that the fragments of a Greek scroll of the Book of the Twelve Lesser Prophets recovered during the operation were written by two different scribes. Experts have already reconstructed 11 lines of text from the books of the prophets, Zechariah and Naum, finding significant and unexpected discrepancies with later versions of these passages.
Despite the scrolls being mainly in Greek, the name of God appears to be written in Biblical Hebrew, known since the times of the First Temple, specialists noted.
In addition to fragments of ancient manuscripts, archaeologists also found a skeleton of a child aged approximately from 6-12 years old, who was buried around 6,000 years ago. The body was wrapped in a cloth and was in the form of an embryo, as per Sputnik.
Along with that, researchers discovered a basket woven of plant material and maybe the oldest item of its kind, as archaeologists date it to the ninth millennium B.C.
"As far as we know, this is the oldest basket in the world that was found completely intact, and, therefore, the significance of this finding is enormous. The basket had a capacity of 90-100 litres and was apparently used to store things," the authority said.
Archaeologists also found other objects, allegedly left by Jewish rebels who took refuge in the caves during the Bar Kokhba revolt against the ancient Roman Empire. (ANI)