Medieval Jewish manuscripts discovered in Afghanistan include an unknown work by Saadia GaonEarlier reports said there were 150. I'm not sure whether this new reckoning of 200+ manuscripts indicates that more have surfaced; the article says the number is still uncertain due to the unfortunate wide dispersion of the fragments. I don't seen anything new in the list of contents later in the article, although it does add the new information (or impression) that "[m]any of the pages are torn from books," perhaps indirectly confirming my earlier comment that the manuscripts would likely have been codices rather than scrolls. Also, there is a new version of the story of the discovery:
Published On Fri Jan 13 2012
Leslie Scrivener Feature Writer
This much is known: rare, medieval Jewish manuscripts have been discovered along the fabled Silk Road in Afghanistan and are for sale.
Are they authentic? Scholars who have examined them say they are.
The rest — who found them, where they came from, whether there are more to unearth — remains a mystery.
But the discovery of the 200 or more documents, some in good condition and others crumpled or in fragments, has excited academic interest around the world.
Ben-Shammai notes that tales of how such caches are found are often colourful and difficult to verify.An earlier account involved a shepherd searching a wolves' den for lost sheep, and there were apparently other accounts, all involving shepherds searching for sheep.
“There is a story, whether it is true or not I am not able to judge,” he says. In this case, the saga goes like this, “A bunch of foxes were living in a cave and attracted the attention of some villagers . . . ”
Shaul Shaked says that the fragments did not come from a Geniza:
Shaked said the site is not a geniza, a repository of Hebrew texts that cannot be ordinarily disposed of because they contain God’s name. These storerooms are usually located in or near synagogues or cemeteries. This discovery is much smaller than the great Cairo Geniza, in the Ben Ezra Synagogue, which holds more than 200,000 fragmentary remains.He seems to be speculating here, since he doesn't specify any particular danger mentioned in the texts.
“We don’t have any indication that the place where this was found was a synagogue,” says Shaked. “This was likely a cave in which people in distress placed documents they cherished and had to flee because of some danger.”
Also, any connection with the lost ten tribes, floated earlier by Robert Eisenman, is (soundly) dismissed by Ben Shammai:
Some reports have speculated about a link to the 10 lost tribes of Israel, a suggestion Ben-Shammai dismisses. “I’m sorry to sound so skeptical, but I don’t believe a word of the story of the lost tribes. I know it is a very popular notion, but there is no reason to believe they were lost. They assimilated with local populations or other Jewish populations.”HT Tony Burke. Background here and here.