Israeli archaeologists have announced the discovery of dozens of new Dead Sea Scroll fragments bearing a biblical text found in a desert cave and believed hidden during a Jewish revolt against Rome nearly 1,900 years ago.
The fragments of parchment bear lines of Greek text from the books of Zechariah and Nahum and have been radiocarbon dated to the 2nd century AD, the Israel Antiquities Authority said on Tuesday.
"For the first time in approximately 60 years, archaeological excavations have uncovered fragments of a biblical scroll," it said.
They are the first new scrolls found in archaeological excavations in the desert south of Jerusalem in 60 years.
The new pieces are believed to belong to a set of parchment fragments found in a site known as “The Cave of Horror" — named for the 40 human skeletons found there during excavations in the 1960s — that also bear a Greek rendition of the Twelve Minor Prophets.
The cave is located in a remote canyon in the Judean Desert south of Jerusalem.
Israel finds new Dead Sea Scroll, first such discovery in 60 years https://t.co/mYlgze8rJp Photography: Yaniv Berman, Israel Antiquities Authority pic.twitter.com/hFn6JcEcLI
Artifacts hidden in armed Jewish uprising
The fragments are believed to have been stashed away in the cave during the Bar Kochba Revolt, an armed Jewish uprising against Rome during the reign of Emperor Hadrian, between 132 and 136 AD.
The artifacts were found during an operation by the Israel Antiquities Authority in the Judean Desert to find scrolls and other artifacts to prevent possible plundering.
The Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of Jewish texts found in desert caves in the occupied West Bank near Qumran in the 1940s and 1950s, date from the 3rd century BCE to the 1st century CE.
They include the earliest known copies of biblical texts and documents outlining the beliefs of a little understood Jewish sect.
Operation in response to looters
IAA director Israel Hasson said the survey had begun in response to looters who slipped into the caves.
In a statement, he called the finds "a wakeup call" for devoting more resources to continue the project, which has only surveyed about half of all the cliffs in the desert.
"We must ensure that we recover all the data that has not yet been discovered in the caves, before the robbers do," Hasson said.