“It is a great excitement to reveal these finds and expose them to the public – said the Director General of the Ministry of Jerusalem and Heritage, Avi Cohen – finds which shed great light on our history. These finds are not just important to our own cultural heritage, but to that of the entire world”.
In an official statement posted online, the Ministry of Jerusalem and Heritage has joyfully announced the extraordinary artefacts found in the Judean Desert, between Israel and the West Bank. Fragments of Qumran jars, arrowheads, combs and coins are just some of the findings discovered during the operations carried out by the team of archaeologists. One of the most important objects found during the operations was a perfectly preserved woven basket which was certified by experts as the oldest basket in the world.
The initiative to explore 400 caves in the Judean Desert began in 2017 and the most important archaeological findings of the 20th century discovered to date were announced on March 16 2021.
The “Cave of Horror”, so called because some human skeletons from the Bar Kochbà era were uncovered between the 1950s and 1960s, housed 2,000-year-old biblical scrolls fragments. The Greek translations of the biblical passages discovered were written by Zechariah and Nahum and belong to the Book of the Twelve Minor Prophets, moreover some words are different from other versions of the Bible; the biblical scrolls were probably hidden during a Jewish revolt against Rome. Also some letters belonging to the Jewish leader Shimon Bar Kochbà were found nearby.
“The desert team – said Israel Hasson, director of the Israel Antiquities Authority – showed exceptional courage, dedication and devotion to purpose, rappelling down to caves located between heaven and earth, digging and sifting through them, enduring thick and suffocating dust, and returning with gifts of immeasurable worth for mankind”. In fact, the cave overlooks a remote canyon and it is very difficult and dangerous to be able to access it, for this reason the team used the technological support of drones to explore the most inaccessible places.
Outside the cave, an unexpected finding has left the IAA team, the Israel Antiquities Authority, speechless. The partially mummified body of a child was discovered in a foetal position, probably dates back to 6.000 years ago and a study of a CT scan of the child suggests that he/she was between 6 and 12 years old. The local climate conditions have allowed an excellent preservation of the historical artefacts and in fact the mummified body still has parts of skin, hair and tendons partially preserved.
“The goal of this national initiative is to save our rare and important heritage sites from the clutches of plunderers – said Israel Hasson – The newly-discovered scroll fragments are a wake-up call for the state. Resources must be allocated to complete this historically important operation. We must ensure that we recover all the data that has not yet been discovered in the caves, before the robbers do. Some things are beyond value”.