Several items of historical significance have been found in a cave in the Judean Desert. The most incredible find was a 2,000-year-old biblical scroll which makes it the first time that such an item has been found since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the 1940s and 1950s.
The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) and the Archaeology Department of the Civil Administration conducted several very difficult operations to explore all the caves in the area, although only about 80 kilometers (50 miles) of caves have been surveyed so far during their operation and around half of it still hasn’t been touched.
The scroll and other artifacts were found at a location called the “Cave of Horror” (named after 40 human skeletons were found there in the 1950s) in the Judean Desert reserve’s Nahal Hever. The cave, which is located about 80 meters (262 feet) beneath the clifftop, is only accessible by rappelling down with ropes.
The scroll, which had passages from the Minor Prophets (which included Nahum), were written in Greek, however, God’s name was in paleo-Hebrew. In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, Dr. Oren Ableman from the IAA Dead Sea Scroll Unit explained the biblical texts in further detail, “More than 80 fragments of different sizes have been uncovered, some of them carrying text, some not.” “Based on the script, we dated them to the end of the first century BCE, which means that by the time it was brought to the cave, the scroll was already a century old.”
The scroll referenced the biblical Book of Zechariah with one of the excerpts containing a version never seen before where the word “gates” was replaced by “streets” in Verses 16 and 17 of the eighth chapter.
The biblical texts weren’t the only significant items found in the cave. Numerous bronze coins that were minted by the Jewish rebels who were under Bar Kokhba’s leadership were discovered with a palm tree and vine leaf on them.
What may be the world’s oldest basket was recovered from the cave as well. The woven basket, which could hold up to 90 liters, dates back approximately 10,500 years – an astonishing 1,000 years before pottery was invented.
Exceptionally well preserved human remains belonging to a child (between 6 and 12 years of age) who lived around 6,000 years ago were also found. IAA prehistorian Ronit Lupu explained how they found the child’s skeleton, “By moving two flat stones, we discovered a shallow pit intentionally dug beneath them, containing a skeleton of a child placed in a fetal position,” adding, “It was obvious that whoever buried the child had wrapped him up and pushed the edges of the cloth beneath him, just as a parent covers his child in a blanket.”
Pictures of the artifacts found in the cave can be seen here.