Dead Sea Scrolls: New Cave Found But Contents Sacked Long Ago
This is my kind of Sunday school.
Nearly 1000 Dead Sea Scrolls --the oldest known biblical manuscripts-- were found scattered throughout 11 caves in the Judean Desert between 1946 and 1956.
Now scientists think they've found a 12th cave where scrolls were stored --but the texts themselves seem to have been stolen decades ago.
Popular Science says evidence that the newly-discovered cave once held scrolls on the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea in the West Bank. Inside were storage jars and lids from the Second Temple period (530 BC to 70 AD) that are identical to some of those that stored known Dead Sea Scrolls. They also found blank scraps of parchment that came from the same era, and pieces of leather similar to what would have been used to tie the scrolls closed.
But the evidence of a scroll heist seems even more certain. Broken jars and pickaxe heads were found inside the cave--the kind that would have been used by Bedouin looters in the 40's or 50's, just as the scholarly world became aware of the precious manuscripts.
Researchers say the evidence "practically scream looters." It's likely that many scraps of the Dead Sea Scroll were plundered and sold. They would contain first-person historical accounts, biblical text, and priceless information about the customs of the people who once lived in the caves. Smithsonian Magazine says that if a fingernail-sized fragment of text were around today, it would easily sell for $1 million dollars.