Wednesday, December 21, 2016

New DSS from the Cave of the Skulls

EPIGRAPHY: New Dead Sea Scrolls Fragments Found in Judean Desert. Documents from Iron Age and Roman times surfacing in the black market helped convince archaeologists there was more to be found (Philippe Bohstrom, Haaretz).
New fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls have been found in the Cave of the Skulls by the Dead Sea in Israel, in a salvage excavation by Israeli authorities. The pieces are small and the writing on them is too faded to make out without advanced analysis. At this stage the archaeologists aren't even sure if they're written in ancient Hebrew, Aramaic or another language.

“The most important thing that can come out of these fragments is if we can connect them with other documents that were looted from the Judean Desert, and that have no known provenance," says Dr. Uri Davidovich of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, among the scientists investigating the caves.


The latest finds, two papyri fragments about two by two centimeters with writing and several fragments without discernible letters, were made during a three-week salvage excavation in the Cave of the Skulls this May and June by a joint expedition of the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The excavations were led by Uri Davidovich and Roi Porat of the Hebrew University, together with Amir Ganor and Eitan Klein from the IAA.

Nothing exciting or even particularly interesting here yet, but hopefully this is a harbinger of better things to come as the IAA's new comprehensive survey of the Judean Desert caves proceeds. The article also discusses many other non-epigraphic finds in the Cave of the Skulls. Past posts on the exploration of the Cave of the Skulls last spring and on the IAA's cave-survey initiative in general are collected at the end of this post.