rare and important biblical fragments found near the Dead Sea
In the Cave of Horror, archaeologists have discovered biblical scrolls dating from around 2,000 years ago from the Book of the Twelve Minor Prophets, written in Greek but with the name of God in ancient Hebrew. For the director of the Franciscan Museum of the Holy Land, the discoveries “bear witness to the spread of Greek translations in Jewish circles”. The finds include ancient coins and a mummified skeleton from 6,000 years ago.
Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – A group of Israeli archaeologists have announced the discovery of priceless treasures preserved in an area of the Judean Desert, not far from the Masada fortress and the Dead Sea. They include biblical scrolls of around 2,000 years old found in the Cave of Horror from the Book of the Twelve Minor Prophets.
For Father Eugenio Alliata, director of the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum Museum, this is a “rare” find. Talk to AsiaNews, he explained that the discovery is “important from a religious point of view” because the texts found “testify to the diffusion of Greek translations in Jewish circles at the time of the second uprising”.
According to the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), a fragment from the book of Zechariah reads: “Here are the things you must do: speak the truth to one another, bring true and perfect justice in your doors. And do not harm one another, and do not like perjury, for all these things are things that I hate – declares the Lord.
While the text is in Greek, God’s name is written in ancient Hebrew script, the IAA explained.
Nearby, archaeologists also recovered letters from Jewish leader Shimon Bar Kokhba, who in AD 132 led a rebellion against Emperor Hadrian. The find also included period coins, a wooden lice comb and the sole of a sandal. Preliminary analysis indicates that a Jewish child, the son of rebels, carried the article.
Outside the cave, researchers found a basket woven 10,000 years ago and the mummified skeleton of a little girl who lived at least 6,000 years ago, well preserved thanks to the climate and soil. dry.
“The caves of the desert have been the subject of much research after the findings of Qumran,” said Father Alliata.
Such discoveries are “often made by Bedouins, who are trying to gain something by putting this material up for sale.” We too, for example, have in our museum fragments of a letter in Hebrew / Aramaic with the receipt of a cash loan.
The clergyman explains that “Israeli archaeologists have tried to systematically investigate all the caves in Wadi”, especially those in the area seized by Israel after the Six Day War.
The discovery of some fragments of biblical manuscripts, in this case of “little” prophets “, is the new fact.
“The texts bear witness to the spread of Greek translations in Jewish circles at the time of the second uprising (also named after Bar Kokhba), that is to say in the first decades of the 2nd century AD,” said Father Alliata.
“Of course, the final results will not be known until after the results are published following their scientific study, which is guaranteed by the official discovery. This is certainly a good thing.
In 2017, research launched a project to study more than 400 caves in an area of 80 km, looted by looters in the past for historical artifacts.
The operation is complex as most of the caves overlook rocky outcrops and access is only possible by ropes and acrobatics, combined with the use of drones.
The Grotto of Horror owes its name to the discovery inside, in the 1960s, of the skeletons of some thirty Bar Kokhba fighters, who died under the siege of Roman soldiers camped on a nearby hill to prevent their escape. .
Outside the cave, behind a slab, the mummified skeleton of a child was found in a fetal position. Aged perhaps 6 to 12 years old, she was buried about 6,000 years ago, buried in a niche, covered with a cloth that has been preserved.
For experts, it is one of the most important archaeological finds since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls between 1947 and 1956; however, much of the region remains to be explored and more wonders may emerge in the future.