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Cave that once housed Dead Sea scrolls uncovered in the Judean desert

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For the first time in almost 70 years, archaeologists have uncovered a cave they believed once held Dead Sea scrolls. The scrolls, a series of priceless records dating back to the 4th Century BC, had up until now, thought to have been all discovered after a spate of caves were discovered holding the precious papyrus scrolls. So far, all of the caves have been found within modern-day West Bank and Israel, amongst pottery, gems and other artifacts.

A total of eleven caves have been found since a Bedouin shepherd stumbled upon the first in 1947, with archaeologists delving into the 800 documents they have yielded. Apart from biblical texts, there are also many writings regarding life during the 1st and 2nd Centuries AD, all inscribed in several languages, including Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. There is a lot of speculation over who the authors of the scrolls are, but many scholars believe they were written by a Jewish sect called the Essenes.

cave ruins, not actual
cave ruins, not actual*

These caves often yield a treasure trove of items and documents, but the latest find showed signs of having been looted. The team of archaeologists from Hebrew University determined that the cave had been disturbed and the scrolls taken during the 1950s. Not only that, but that there is evidence — in the form of two iron pickaxes — that the people who likely took the papers also lived in the cave for some time. The latest inhabitants of the cave may have recognized the value of the scrolls, deciding to take only them, and not the rest of the artifacts in the cave.

Despite the previous interference, and as aforementioned, the cave still held many other artifacts, which had archaeologists making some other discoveries. Amongst the textiles, pottery and other small items that made up the horde of the original treasure, a semi-precious stone, a carnelian seal, led the researchers to make some very interesting inferences about the history of the cave. The presence of the stone suggests that pre-historic people also once lived in the cave prior to it being used as a storehouse, making the cave a dwelling for at least three separate families stretched across thousands of years.

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