A team of archeologists from Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Liberty University of Virginia in the US has unearthed another ancient cave that reportedly bore the famed Dead Sea Scrolls. With the first Dead Sea scroll discovery made near Khirbet Qumran in late 1946, 11 other excavation sites have been found and this latest discovery marks the 12th Dead Sea scroll cave to be uncovered.
The ancient Biblical manuscripts are often called the Dead Sea scrolls because the first excavation site in Khirbet Qumran is located on the northwest short of the Dead Sea, and they are often religious texts that give credibility to aspects of Hebrew and Judaic religions - while also establishing certain facts of the Holy Bible, Mirror Online reports.
Cave raiders had looted this 12th excavation site decades ago
Archeologists have extracted over 800 Biblical texts from almost all the ancient caves, and most of the outdated documents were made up papyrus, forged copper and sometimes animal hide. Scientific dating technology show that most of the retrieved Dead Sea documents date back to over 2,000 years. But in this current discovery site, no particular religious documents were found - fueling speculations from recovered artifacts that cave raiders had looted the cave decades ago and made away with any religious scrolls they contained.
Oren Gutfeld, director of excavation and an archeologist with Hebrew University revealed that broken storage jars hidden inside the cave walls were found - but no parchments or scrolls in them, confirming fears that cave looters had stolen the ancient contents of the jars. Ancient leather and textiles used in wrapping scrolls were also found in the cave, together with a pickaxe that was in use in the early '50s - certain evidence that the storage jars once had precious scrolls which were removed several decades back, the National Geographic explained.
Ancient manuscripts are often sold in the art markets
Considering the fact that all the ancient manuscripts of the newly-discovered Dead Sea scroll cave have been emptied, archeologists are not surprised that they might find their way into the art market where they are sold by cave looters for high prices. Cave looters are aware of the fact that ancient parchments command high prices in the black market, and so aggressively target Dead Sea caves where such might be uncovered.
Sometimes, forged religious parchments find their way into the market, said Lawrence Schiffman, professor of Hebrew and Judaic studies at New York University and an expert on ancient scrolls. He also added that blank scrolls are also found sometimes and forgers forge scraps of coded letterings on them to pass them off as genuine parchments in the market. He said art buyers should rely less on the testimony of parchment sellers and confirm the origins and authenticity of ancient religious scrolls before transacting art business, and that everyone should protect our natural heritage.