In a race against antiquity looters, Israeli archaeologists have uncovered dozens of manuscript fragments with biblical texts dated at least 2,000 years ago.
The finds, preserved by the hot, dry air of the Judean Desert, also include a partially mummified skeleton of a child (estimated to be over 6,000 years old) and a handcrafted basket of virtually intact archaeologists claiming to be over 10,500 years old.
According to the announcement made Tuesday by the Israel Antiquities Authority (AAI) (16), the relics were found during an investigation in an area of about 100 km near the Dead Sea.
The scrolls are like a new puzzle piece from a larger set of ancient texts that was discovered between the 1940s and 1950s in the same area. The collection, which became known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, provided archaeologists and historians with a sort of portrait of Jewish society and religion much earlier to some time after the time of Jesus.
The “new” manuscripts were found coiled up in the Cave of Horror, which lies about 80 meters below the top of a cliff. According to the IIA, the site is “flanked by gorges and can only be accessed with [equipamentos de] recall “.
From the fragments of the scrolls, the team of archaeologists has so far been able to reconstruct 11 lines of the text, written in Greek. The passages identified correspond to biblical passages in the books of Zechariah and Nahum, which are part of a group known as “little prophets”.
“This is what you must do: tell each one the truth to your neighbor; execute the judgment of truth and peace at your gates, ”say verses 16 and 17 of chapter 8 of the book of Zechariah, identified on the scrolls. “And none of you should have bad feelings in your heart against your neighbor, nor love the false oath; for these are all things that I hate, says the Lord.
The other passage is in chapter 1 of the book of Nahum, verses 5 and 6. “The mountains shake before him, and the hills melt; and the earth rises in his presence; and the world, and all that dwell therein. “.
“Who will stop in the face of his anger, and who will stand in the heat of his anger?”
Another of the findings announced on Tuesday is the skeleton of a child who, according to analyzes, is over 6,000 years old. According to The Times of Israel, researchers at Tel Aviv University estimated, based on a CT scan, that the child was between 6 and 12 years old at the time of his death.
From the conditions under which the skeleton was found, archaeologists concluded that the child, found in a fetal position in a shallow well dug under two stones, had been carefully wrapped in a handkerchief by someone.
“It was obvious whoever buried the child implicated him [com o tecido] and pushed the ends of the cloth underneath, just like a father covers his son with a blanket, “said archaeologist Ronit Lupu, of IAA. that tissue, hair and even skin and tendons have been preserved. .
The third discovery, a basket dated more than 10,500 years ago, was classified by The IIA as an object “currently unmatched in the world”. The age of the object was estimated using the element carbon-14 and places it in time in the Neolithic period, at least a thousand years before the first known uses of ceramics.
“As far as we know, it is the oldest basket in the world that has been found completely intact and therefore its importance is immense,” AAI said in a statement.
The enormous container, with an estimated volume of 90-100 liters, was made from woven plant material. Unfortunately for archaeologists, it was empty, but the team will be doing some scans on the soil remaining in the basket to help find out what it was used for and what was placed in it.
From the 1950s, when the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, a wave of illegal logging spread throughout the region. Over time, the ambition of the raiders and relic hunters waned, but rose again over the past decade as new discoveries began to emerge in the underground market.
Since 2017, AAI then began scanning the Judean Desert region to prevent antiquity thieves. According to The Times of Israel, the team hopes the results will attract the attention of authorities in order to attract funding for the operation it intends to continue in search of traces of the past.