Fragments that showed up recently on black market led to renewed search.
But archaeologists are racing against the ongoing threat that antiquities robbers may beat them to the so-far unfound scrolls, Haaretz reports. It was, in fact, the appearance of new fragments of scrolls and parchments showing up on the “black market” that prompted a renewed search of the caves. Archaeologists are probing “higher and deeper than before,” the Israeli newspaper said. “Hundreds of caves remain unexcavated.”
The Dead Sea Scrolls, many of which are preserved in Jerusalem’s Shrine of the Book, gave insight into Jewish society and religion before and after the time of Jesus, the newspaper said.
“In the last few years we noticed new pieces of scrolls and parchments arrive on the black market,” said Oren Gutfeld, an archaeologist at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. “It drove us to return to the caves,” he said, sitting at the entrance of a cliffside grotto known to his team as “52B.”
Qumran is east of Jerusalem and near the northern end of the Dead Sea. Haaretz says:
At about 200 meters (656 ft) above the level of the Dead Sea, 52B is higher than where the scrolls were found in the 1950s, which may or may not have made it an ideal hiding place.
Towards the back of the cave is a narrow burrow, packed with debris from centuries of wind and flash floods, that when cleared could extend about 10 meters. Volunteers sift through buckets of dirt.
“People thought there was nothing left to find … there just wasn’t incentive to do this,” said Randall Price, a professor at Liberty University, a Christian campus in the United States, who helped fund the dig.
Support Aleteia takes a minute
If you’re reading this article, it’s precisely thanks to your generosity and to that of many other people like you that make possible the evangelization project of Aleteia. Here some numbers:
- 20 million of users around the world read Aleteia.org every month.
- Aleteia is published daily in eight languages: French, English, Arabic, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish and Slovenian.
- Each month, our readers view more than 50 million pages.
- Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia’s social media pages.
- Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos.
- All of this work is carried out by 60 people working full-time and approximately 400 other collaborators (writers, journalists, translators, photographers…).
As you can imagine, behind these numbers there is a big effort. We need your support so we can keep offering this service of evangelization to everyone, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay.
Support Aleteia from as little as $1 – and only takes a minute. Thank you!