Archaeologists Exploring the ‘Cave of Horror’ in Israel Have Discovered a New Dead Sea Scroll

For the first time in 60 years, archaeologists have discovered a new fragment of the Dead Sea Scrolls, a cache of ancient Jewish and Hebrew religious manuscripts uncovered in the Qumran Caves on the northern shore of the Dead Sea.

The Israel Antiquities Authority, which carried out the excavations, believes the new scroll, written in Greek, is actually a missing part of the “Book of the 12 Minor Prophets” scroll, first discovered in 1961. It contains verses from Zechariah 8:16-17 and Nahum 1:5-6. The minor differences in the wording compared to other known manuscripts are important in helping shape our understanding of the evolution of the standardized Hebrew Bible.

Dating from the third century BC to the first century AD, the parchment and papyrus manuscripts contain the earliest known texts from the Hebrew Bible, as well as other apocryphal writings. 

The new fragments were uncovered in the so-called “Cave of Horror,” where archaeologists in the 1950s found skeletons of men, women, and children killed during the Bar Kokhba revolt, a Jewish rebellion against Rome circa 132 to 136, during the reign of Emperor Hadrian.

There have been extensive excavations in the Qumran Caves since 2017, carried out by the Israel Antiquities Authority in an effort to prevent looters from getting their hands on historic artifacts in the desert’s remote caves.Evidence of Roman encampments on the cliff above the cave suggests that the rebels remained under siege until they died of starvation. The only way to access the cave is by rope, lowering down some 200 feet.