Pieces of parchment, with dozens of fragments of the biblical text, were found by archaeologists in the Judean desert.
The announcement was made by the Israeli government on Tuesday, 16. They are the first pieces of the Dead Sea Scrolls, recovered a cave Jewish rebels hid against the Roman Empire 1,900 years ago.
The pieces of parchment are written in Greek and contain verses the books of the prophets Zechariah and Nahum.
The researchers were able to reconstruct about eleven lines of the parchment. Other artifacts the time and a skeleton 6,000 years ago were also discovered
"The purpose of this national initiative is to rescue these rare and important heritage assets the clutches of thieves," said Israel Hasson, director of the Israel Antiquities Authority, who asked for more resources to complete the recovery operation.
“We must ensure that we recover all data that has not yet been discovered in the caves, before the thieves do so. Some things are worthless, ”said Hasson.
Discovered 70 years ago in caves around Qumran, the Dead Sea Scrolls are among the most significant finds in archeology, containing the oldest versions of the Hebrew Bible and other Jewish texts dating the time of Jesus.
Most of the scrolls are kept in the Shrine of the Book, part of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
The last fragments of parchment were found in the Horror Cave, which is 80 meters below the top of a cliff in the Judean Desert, whose only access is by rappelling.
The work of the archaeologist team in the region, since 2017, is part of a national operation to prevent the looting of antiques.
Since the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, the area has attracted the attention of looters mainly because the region has excellent weather conditions, which means that ancient scrolls and documents are exceptionally well preserved.
Hananya Hizmi, head of staff for the West Bank Civil Administration Archeology Department, said this was "an exciting time."
"The findings attest to a rich, diverse and complex lifestyle, as well as the harsh climatic conditions that prevailed in the region for hundreds and thousands of years," said Hizmi.
Eleven lines of text have been reconstructed, including parts of a Greek translation of Zechariah 8: 16-17. In another fragment, verses Nahum 1: 5-6 were identified.
Archaeologists have also discovered a partially mummified skeleton of a child aged 6 to 12, buried in a shallow grave under two flat stones and wrapped in a cloth, which dates back 6,000 years ago.
“The child's skeleton and the fabric wrap were remarkably well preserved and because of the climatic conditions in the cave, a natural mummification process took place.
The skin, tendons and even the hair have been partially preserved, despite the passage of time ”, said Ronit Lup