The conversation with [Dr. Oren] Gutfeld takes place at the entrance to the cave. In the two excavation seasons conducted in Cave 53, many non-scroll objects have been found, some of them valuable, some from prehistoric times and from the Second Temple era.This is a good, thorough article that strikes a reasonable balance between coverage of the so-far imaginary scrolls that archaeologists hope to find and the actual material culture that they have been uncovering in the caves.
I asked if somewhere inside he expects, every time he begins to explore a new cave, to find scrolls. He looks at me and considers for a moment. “We come to each new cave with zero expectations. We try to understand the daily lives of those who used it,” Gutfeld says – then admits, “Almost every night I dream of finding a scroll. If we get lucky and find even one written line, that would be the best.”
Albeit scroll-less, every day of digging in the Judean Desert caves reveals new things about the material culture of people of the “Yahad” community (the cult that operated here), he says. “Discovering a scroll would be the ultimate, but it’s just as important to find things that shed light on who they were.”
I hope they get some government funding to speed up the work. The danger is real that looters will get to any really important artifacts ahead of the archaeologists.
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For more on the excavations in Cave 53a and 53b, as well as links to earlier posts on Operation Scroll, see here.
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