Jerusalem: Archaeologists have uncovered a new cave that once housed Dead Sea Scrolls, in a discovery described as one of the "most important" in 60 years.
The Hebrew University in Jerusalem said the scrolls were missing from the cave, though, but hopes to find others. The Dead Sea Scrolls, which include the oldest known manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible, date from the 3rd century BC to the 1st century AD.
The around 900 scrolls were discovered between 1947 and 1956 in the Qumran caves above the Dead Sea. "This discovery of a 12th cave could revolutionise the information we have on the Dead Sea Scrolls," Hebrew University archaeologist Oren Gutfeld told AFP, calling it one of the "most important" discoveries since 1956.
The parchment and papyrus scrolls contain Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic writing, and include several of the earliest-known texts from the Bible, including the oldest surviving copy of the Ten Commandments.
The cave discovered west of Qumran in the occupied West Bank contained no manuscripts, but there is ample evidence of their earlier presence. This includes fragments of pottery in which they were placed and the leather straps, Gutfeld said.
Many of the caves containing the manuscripts were looted in the 1950s. Heads of pickaxes dating from that time were found in the cave in another indication they had been looted, a Hebrew University statement said.