New Discovery of Dead Sea Scroll From the Bar Kochba Period

Israel Antiquities Authority’s operation in the Judean Desert, an aerial view. (Guy Fitoussi, Israel Antiquities Authority)

Israel Antiquities Authority has announced new findings on their operation in the Judean Desert Nature Reserve, including dozens of fragments of a biblical scroll from the Bar Kochba period. This is the first time in 60 years, archaeological excavations have uncovered such fragments.

The scroll, written in Greek, includes portions of Trei Asar.  In addition to the scroll fragments, the operation uncovered additional extraordinary finds from various periods: a cache of rare coins from the days of Bar-Kochba, a skeleton of a child wrapped in a cloth and mummified, and a large complete basket, likely the oldest in the world.

Additional finds left behind by the Jewish rebels who fled to the caves at the end of the Bar Kochba Revolt include a cache of coins from the Revolt bearing Jewish symbols such as a harp and a date palm, arrow- and spearheads, woven fabric, sandals and even lice combs.

Ever since the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered over 70 years ago, the desert caves have been targeted by antiquities looters.

The fragments of the scroll were written, uniquely, by two different scribes. The conservation and study of the fragments, has allowed for the reconstruction of 11 lines of text, partially preserving the Greek translation of Zechariah. Also identified, on another fragment, are verses from Nachum. Another interesting aspect about this scroll is that despite most of the text being in Greek, the name of Hashem appears in ancient Hebrew script.

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