Posts Tagged ‘Qumran caves’

 

28 New Dead Sea Scrolls Fragments Sold in US

One of the 15 fragments that was recently sold and is now in an institution in the United States that hasn’t made a public announcement.

Credit: Photo courtesy Les Enluminures

Twenty-eight fragments from the Dead Sea Scrolls that were purchased from the antiquities market have yet to be published, but are now sitting in three U.S. institutions, Live Science has found.

Forthcoming publications will describe some of these fragments within the next year, experts said. The 28 “new” fragments are part of a growing number of Dead Sea Scrolls that have appeared in the United States. At least 45 fragments of Dead Sea Scrolls have popped up in the U.S. over the past two decades.

Scholars have questioned whether some of these fragments are modern-day forgeries or if they come from caves in the Judean desert that were looted in the past few decades.

Often, anonymous individuals sold these fragments that have appeared in the U.S., claiming that they were once owned by Khalil Iskander Shahin, an antiquities dealer in Bethlehem, in the West Bank, Live Science found. Shahin collected many of the Dead Sea Scrolls from the Bedouin people in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s; he often went by the name Kando, which his son William Kando now uses. [In Photos: Dead Sea Scrolls from the Antiquities Market]

However, William Kando has raised concerns about the number of scroll pieces claimed to have shown up in the United States. In conversations with Live Science, he said that while his family has sold some scroll fragments to collectors in the United States over the past few decades, the family didn’t sell them in the numbers that some collectors are claiming.

During the conversations with Live Science, William Kando also revealed that, after the Kando family sold scroll fragments to U.S. collectors, these artifacts were often resold multiple times, creating a tangled collecting history that makes it difficult to determine which of the 45 fragments the Kandos actually owned.

The Dead Sea Scrolls come from 12 caves, which contained thousands of scroll fragments and are located near the site of Qumran in the West Bank. Excavations of the caves by professional archaeologists uncovered some of the scrolls, while private Bedouin residents removed other scrolls, before selling them to Shahin.

The scrolls contain text from books in the Hebrew Bible as well as community rules, calendars and astronomical texts, among other writings.

Eleven of these caves were discovered between 1947 and 1956, and the discovery of a 12th cave was announced earlier this year. Archaeologists found that most of the scrolls in the 12th cave had been plundered decades earlier. More caves that contain (or once contained) scrolls could await discovery, said Randall Price, a professor at Liberty University in Virginia, who was one of the leaders of the team that excavated the 12th cave.

Altogether, there are nine unpublished Dead Sea Scroll fragments at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas; four at Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, California; and another 15 fragments that were recently sold through a company called Les Enluminures on behalf of an anonymous seller and are now in an undisclosed U.S. institution. Sandra Hindman, the president of Les Enluminures, said that the institution has not yet made a public announcement and she is not at liberty to disclose the identity. [See Photos of Dead Sea Scrolls Fragments]

As the 28 unpublished scroll fragments are studied and described in scientific journals, more information will appear on what the artifacts contain. Already, multiple scholars who are concerned about the fragments have called for the publication of as much information on their collecting history as possible.

“Southwestern purchased nine Dead Sea Scroll fragments approximately seven years ago. We currently have a contract to publish them with Brill ,” a publisher of scholarly books, said Ryan Stokes, a professor of the Old Testament at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. “Hopefully, the volume will be available in the next year.”

When Southwestern purchased the fragments seven years ago, the seminary stated in its news releases that the fragments included writings from the biblical books of Exodus, Leviticus, Daniel, Psalms and Deuteronomy. According to these past statements, one of the fragments holds passages from Leviticus 18, a biblical passage that forbids incest and homosexuality.

The four unpublished fragments at Azusa Pacific University include writings from the biblical books of Daniel, Leviticus and Deuteronomy, and should be published soon.

“We’re hoping in the very, very, near future, with more feedback, our publication will come to light,” said Robert Duke, dean of the School of Theology at Azusa Pacific University. Before Azusa Pacific University purchased the scroll fragments, the university received assurances from William Kando that the Kando family had owned those fragments in the past, Duke said.

It’s not certain when the 15 fragments sold through Les Enluminures will be studied and published. The institution in the United States that now owns those fragments has not made a public announcement about the acquisition, Hindman said.

Spokespersons for the Museum of the Bible, Azusa Pacific University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Lanier Theological Library all told Live Science that their institutions had not bought the Les Enluminures fragments.

Les Enluminures sent a batch of black-and-white photographs of the fragments to Live Science. The images show what appears to be Greek text on some of the fragments, a language that has been seen on other Dead Sea Scrolls. Hindman said she believes all 15 fragments were once in the collection of Bruce Ferrini, a collector in Ohio who died in 2010.

Hindman said that her information indicates that the 15 fragments were originally sold by the Kando family in 2002 before being passed through a series of collectors. William Kando expressed concerns about this claim, saying that he sold seven fragments in that year to a man named Craig Lampe and that he thinks some of those fragments later went to a “library in California” (a description that better matches Azusa Pacific University).

Duke said that he’s not certain if Azusa’s Dead Sea Scroll fragments were among those sold by the Kando family to Lampe in 2002.

Some of the 15 fragments may be part of the same scroll, and it’s possible that in 2002, the 15 fragments were part of a few larger fragments that have since fallen apart Hindman said. She said she is convinced that the fragments are authentic. Lampe’s antiquities business is now run by his son Joel Lampe, who did not return requests for comment.

A number of Dead Sea Scroll fragments in America have already been published. These include 13 fragments that were published last year in the book “Dead Sea Scrolls Fragments in the Museum Collection” (Brill, 2016) and are now in the collection of the Museum of the Bible, which is set to open in November 2017 in Washington, D.C., just three blocks from the U.S. Capitol. [The Holy Land: 7 Amazing Archaeological Finds]

In the book, scholars noted a number of suspicious features that might indicate the fragments are forgeries. The 13 scrolls were purchased in four lots from anonymous sellers between 2009 and 2014, according to the book. William Kando told Live Science that while a few fragments may have come from his family’s collection, not all of them are from the Kandos.

However, the case for forgery is not settled. Ada Yardeni, a professor at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who is in an expert in the paleography of the Dead Sea Scrolls (the study of their handwriting), told Live Science that her analysis indicated that all 13 fragments are authentic.

Curators at the Museum of the Bible said that they are treating the scroll fragments at their institution as potential forgeries and are conducting scientific tests on them. The curators said they also plan to address the issue of authenticating Dead Sea Scroll fragments in the museum display.

Other Dead Sea Scroll fragments that have appeared in the past two decades in the United States have been described in scientific publications. These include: one fragment at Lanier Theological Library in Houston, one fragment at Ashland Theological Seminary in Ashland, Ohio; a fragment from a collector in Pasadena, California, that scholars from the Foundation on Judaism and Christian Origins studied and published; and one published fragment at Azusa Pacific University.

Additionally, previously published fragments arrived in the U.S. in the mid-20th century and are now at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago and the Syrian Orthodox Church’s eastern U.S. archdiocese.

Original article on Live Science.

http://www.livescience.com/58507-new-dead-sea-scrolls-sold-in-us.html

 

 

 

 

Headline article for SkywatchTV print magazine March edition. www.skywatchtv.comScreen Cap of Cover

The History of the Dead Sea Scrolls 

The Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) are the greatest archaeological find of the 20th century. That still stands to this very day. For thousands of years the Judean Desert held secrets buried in its sands, only to be revealed by a young Bedouin shepherd in 1947. The discovery of these ancient treasures initiated a modern-day adventure into the past, revolutionizing our understanding of history and religion. What one Bedouin shepherd boy found would make archaeological history and would forever solidify the veracity of the Bible and over 2,000 years of history.

The initial announcement about the scrolls prompted feverish searches in the area of the original discoveries. An official archaeological expedition was begun in 1949 which eventually resulted in the discovery of ten additional caves in the surrounding area also containing scrolls. The archaeologists then directed their attention to a small ruin nearby called by its Arabic name – Khirbet (ruins of) Qumran. The scrolls had been stored in haste in the caves as the community fled the encroaching Roman army, which was in Judea to put down the Jewish Revolt of AD 66-70.

The Qumran Caves are a series of caves, most natural, some artificial, found around the archaeological site of Qumran in the Judaean Desert. The caves are only accessible via the Qumran plateau where archaeologist Roland de Vaux discovered pottery kilns in the 1950’s that were used to fire the scroll jars and a two-story building that contained the remains of writing benches & ink wells. Dr. Randall Price has served as Director of Excavations on the Qumran Plateau in Israel since 2002. During the course of his excavations, he discovered remains of ritual meals and deposits of 24 animal bones overlaid with broken pottery that were buried in a ritual manner. The bones and vessels were then buried because they were considered ritual meals and therefore sacred- never to be used again. In other words, these vessels were used in honor for the meal; not for everyday use. So everything was buried together afterwards. These discoveries fully support the connection between the scrolls and the site of Qumran.

Those seven original scrolls were just the beginning. The years between 1951 and 1957 were marked by accelerated activity in both the search for caves and the archaeological excavation of the Qumran site revealing 10 additional scroll caves.  Over 900 scrolls and thousands of fragments have been discovered since in the 11 caves of the Qumran area.

The scrolls are thought to be what my friend & fellow archaeologist Bruce Hall calls them- “God’s Library”. One of the most important contributions of the Dead Sea Scrolls is the numerous Biblical manuscripts which have been discovered. Fragments of every Old Testament book except Esther have been found, as well as many other non-Biblical texts such as the Book of Enoch, the Book of Jubilees, the Book of Tobit, and the Wisdom of Sirach.

The texts are composed in three languages- Hebrew, Aramaic, & Greek. Aramaic was the common language of the Jews of Palestine for the last two centuries B.C. and of the first two centuries A.D. The discovery of the Scrolls has greatly enhanced our knowledge of both the Hebrew & Aramaic languages.  Until those discoveries at Qumran, the oldest manuscripts of the Hebrew Scriptures were copies from the 9th and 10th centuries AD by a group of Jewish scribes called the Massoretes. Doubts about translation errors were settled with the discovery of the entire book of Isaiah found in Cave 1 dated to 125 BC. This is 1,000 years older than the Aleppo Codex (935 AD) which itself was 1,000 years old. When the two texts were compared, the Isaiah scroll was an identical to the later version of Isaiah in more than 95% of the text. The other 5% were spelling variations. This high level of accuracy was also confirmed among the other DSS. As a result, this closed a thousand year gap just a generation from the original scriptures. The witness of the scrolls testify to its preservation throughout the millennia. We can now place great confidence in the veracity of the Old Testament.

Modern Efforts

In 1993, Operation Scroll was launched to survey some 300 remaining caves in the region.  In the course of their surveys, cave 53 was included with its own survey and a small excavation in the floor of the cave. Nothing of major significance was discovered and after a few days, other caves were then surveyed. But there have been no major excavations in the Qumran caves in the last 60 years.  This position would change however when fragments of new DSS were showing up recently on the black market. According to Israeli law, all artifacts found on land or at sea belong to the state. Over the past 15 years there has been an increase in the number of Dead Sea Scroll fragments offered for sale on the black market. Some 300 looters in the last three years (about 100 per year) have been arrested looking for these artifacts in these caves. Most are fined; some are sent to jail.  In 2014, six people who were plundering “the Cave of Skulls” were arrested & jailed.  This has prompted a new initiative by the IAA (Israeli Antiquity Authority) to re-launch Operation Scroll to excavate the other caves as part of a national campaign to recover as many artifacts as possible, particularly scrolls, before they are found by thieves.

Cave 12 Discovery

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Dr. Price served as director of the Qumran Plateau excavations for 10 years and because of its close proximity to Qumran and the other 11 caves, he chose cave 53 to excavate as it had the best potential for new cultural Dead Sea Scroll material. Proper permits were obtained and because of the IAA’s renewed interest, a high priority was placed on our site rolling in their efforts of Operation Scroll into our excavation. Despite a cursory survey of the cave in 1993, there was no major archaeological excavation of the cave itself.  For the first time in over 60 years, new excavations began in the Qumran caves in January 2017 led by Israeli archaeologist, Dr. Oren Gutfeld and co-directed by Dr. Randall Price of Liberty University.

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Over the course of the excavation, numerous pottery shards, neolithic flint tools and arrowheads were excavated in the layers of dirt in the cave floor. A beautiful, decorated stamp seal made of carnelian, a semi-precious stone, was discovered dating the cave was used as far back as the Chalcolithic and the Neolithic periods.

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Until now, it was believed that only 11 caves had contained scrolls until our team made a surprising discovery at the site.  During the final days of the excavation, 3 major broken scroll jars were found hidden in niches deep inside a long tunnel at its rear along with numerous storage jars and lids from the Second Temple period in the east entrance of the cave.  A pair of iron pickaxe heads dating from the 1950s (stored within the tunnel for later use) proving the cave had been looted in the past. All the vessels were broken and their contents removed sometime in the 50’s. There are no records about these scrolls and they seemed to be lost to history by Bedouins raiders.

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However, a broken but complete store jar was discovered with a 7cm leather scroll found in-situ that was once rolled up inside the vessel in the east room of the cave. No archaeologist in the past has ever found a scroll jar with a scroll inside. It was taken to Hebrew University for analysis. After initial analysis, no writing was seen. Nevertheless, this discovery is extremely unique & never before seen by archaeologists.

This small scroll was probably a new mezuzah scroll ready to write on. But this is my theory. They were about 2 1/2” long with a passage from Exodus or Deuteronomy and placed in the entrance of the door or gate. Our scroll is 2.7” long (7cm).  For whatever reason, the people who placed the scrolls here could not return to retrieve it; nor any in the other 11 caves in the Qumran area.

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Although the small scroll is blank, Israeli archaeologist can use it to help deter looters and detect modern forgeries of ancient documents. Much of the document material is supplied by looters who in recent years have been aggressively targeting the Dead Sea caves. It is now known that many of the fragments that entered the black market since 2002 appear to have been forged.

Recently, an article was published by Biblical Archaeology Society (BAS) that seems to refute the designation of the newly designated Cave 12 since no scroll with writing was found. Therefore, the article concludes it must not be a scroll cave. This conclusion, however logical, is a rather hasty generalization of the facts. Nonetheless, the question is valid. What constitutes a Dead Sea scroll cave? The assumption is that you have to find a scroll with writing for a cave to be designated a scroll cave. But is that necessarily true?

Let’s examine the archaeological evidence:

1. Store jars excavated in-situ in six different locations.

2. Linen wrappings that once covered the scrolls.

3. Numerous pieces of leather discovered for tying the scrolls. 

4. a 7cm scroll found within a broken store vessel. 

Cave 3 is the only cave where the evidence is similar to Cave 12 where a niche was cut in the side of the cave where the copper scroll was discovered.  All the other Dead Sea Scrolls with the exception of fragments found in Caves 2, 4, & 8 were all obtained on the antiquities market after the Bedouins had sold them. Empty store jars were found in Cave 8 but no scrolls were found-only five badly damaged fragments left by the Bedouins in the dirt.

Experts who came to this new cave saw these jars, linen wrappings and the numerous pieces of leather in situ. For the first time it was possible to view the jars where they had been placed 2,000 years ago. No archaeologist in the history of Qumran cave excavations have ever found scroll jars with even one scroll inside.  These experts included Marcello Fidanzio, author of the Caves of Qumran (Brill 2016), Pnina Shor, the head of the scroll conservation and preservation lab at the Israel Museum, and Dr. Weston Fields, Executive Director of the Dead Sea Scroll Foundation. Even without a scroll with writing, as Prof. Fidanzio has stated, this cave fits the pattern of the other manuscript caves and their is no doubt this is a scroll cave. Cave 12 is certainly unique and the first to produce this kind of evidence & material culture ever seen by archaeologist or scroll scholars. This cave is the first to document such evidence in situ. Therefore, this cave has received its new designation as Q12 (Q = Qumran standing in front of the number to indicate no written scrolls were found).

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However, the work at Cave 12 is not entirely complete. With ongoing excavations, it is indeed possible to find a scroll with writing. But is it necessary for the designation? The answer is no. The archaeological evidence confirms this cave was indeed a scroll cave repository and designated as such by the Israeli Antiquity Authority in February 2017.

Aaron Judkins, Ph.D.

Biblical Archaeologist

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New expedition journal: “In Search of Dead Sea Scrolls: Cave 12” by Aaron Judkins now available at www.AaronJudkins.com

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2/8/2017

Excavations in a cave on the cliffs west of Qumran, near the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea, prove that Dead Sea scrolls from the Second Temple period were hidden in the cave, and were looted by Bedouins in the middle of the last century. With the discovery of this cave, scholars now suggest that it should be numbered as Cave 12. [Photo links below]

The surprising discovery, representing a milestone in Dead Sea Scroll research, was made by Dr. Oren Gutfeld and Ahiad Ovadia from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Institute of Archaeology, with the collaboration of Dr. Randall Price and students from Liberty University in Virginia, USA.

The excavators are the first in over 60 years to discover a new scroll cave and to properly excavate it.

Hebrew University archaeologist Dr. Oren Gutfeld: “This is one of the most exciting archaeological discoveries, and the most important in the last 60 years, in the caves of Qumran.

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       Archaeologists Dr. Aaron Judkins & Bruce Hall 

The excavation was supported by the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria, by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, and the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), and is a part of the new “Operation Scroll” launched at the IAA by its Director-General, Mr. Israel Hasson, to undertake systematic surveys and to excavate the caves in the Judean Desert.

Excavation of the cave revealed that at one time it contained Dead Sea scrolls. Numerous storage jars and lids from the Second Temple period were found hidden in niches along the walls of the cave and deep inside a long tunnel at its rear. The jars were all broken and their contents removed, and the discovery towards the end of the excavation of a pair of iron pickaxe heads from the 1950s (stored within the tunnel for later use) proves the cave was looted.

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                        Holding a piece of Qumran pottery fragment with Dr. Aaron Judkins and Dr. Randall Price 

Until now, it was believed that only 11 caves had contained scrolls. With the discovery of this cave, scholars have now suggested that it would be numbered as Cave 12. Like Cave 8, in which scroll jars but no scrolls were found, this cave will receive the designation Q12 (the Q=Qumran standing in front of the number to indicate no scrolls were found).

“This exciting excavation is the closest we’ve come to discovering new Dead Sea scrolls in 60 years. Until now, it was accepted that Dead Sea scrolls were found only in 11 caves at Qumran, but now there is no doubt that this is the 12th cave,” said Dr. Oren Gutfeld, an archaeologist at the Hebrew University’s Institute of Archaeology and director of the excavation. “Finding this additional scroll cave means we can no longer be certain that the original locations (Caves 1 through 11) attributed to the Dead Sea scrolls that reached the market via the Bedouins are accurate.”

Dr. Gutfeld added: “Although at the end of the day no scroll was found, and instead we ‘only’ found a piece of parchment rolled up in a jug that was being processed for writing, the findings indicate beyond any doubt that the cave contained scrolls that were stolen. The findings include the jars in which the scrolls and their covering were hidden, a leather strap for binding the scroll, a cloth that wrapped the scrolls, tendons and pieces of skin connecting fragments, and more.”

Pottery shards, broken scroll storage jars and their lids — even neolithic flint tools and arrowheads — littered the cave’s entrance. Farther in, there appeared to be a cave-in.

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 Cloth found in the cave, which at one time wrapped a scroll.
After a bit of work with a small pickax, the team made a monumental find: an unbroken storage jar with a scroll. It was rushed to Hebrew University’s conservation lab, where it was unfurled in a protected environment.  It had no writing; it was placed in the jar to prepare it for writing. But the effort was not in vain. Scientists soon discovered the cave-in was intentional and it hid a tunnel about 16-20 feet in length. The team thinks looters ransacked the cave around the 1950s, pointing to pickaxes left in the tunnel as evidence. The team also found the cloth coverings and the leather strap that bound the scrolls the jars once held.
“I imagine they came into the tunnel. They found the scroll jars. They took the scrolls.”  “They even opened the scrolls and left everything around, the textiles, the pottery.”

The finds from the excavation include not only the storage jars, which held the scrolls, but also fragments of scroll wrappings, a string that tied the scrolls, and a piece of worked leather that was a part of a scroll. The finding of pottery and of numerous flint blades, arrowheads, and a decorated stamp seal made of carnelian, a semi-precious stone, also revealed that this cave was used in the Chalcolithic and the Neolithic periods.

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Seal made from carnelian, a semi-precious stone

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Dr. Oren Gutfeld and Ahiad Ovadia survey the cave.

This first excavation to take place in the northern part of the Judean Desert as part of “Operation Scroll” will open the door to further understanding the function of the caves with respect to the scrolls, with the potential of finding new scroll material. The material, when published, will provide important new evidence for scholars of the archaeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea caves.

“The important discovery of another scroll cave attests to the fact that a lot of work remains to be done in the Judean Desert and finds of huge importance are still waiting to be discovered,” said Israel Hasson, Director-General of the Israel Antiquities Authority. “We are in a race against time as antiquities thieves steal heritage assets worldwide for financial gain. The State of Israel needs to mobilize and allocate the necessary resources in order to launch a historic operation, together with the public, to carry out a systematic excavation of all the caves of the Judean Desert.”

According to Dr. Randall Price, co-director of the dig from Liberty University,

“this is only the beginning of our search for more scrolls. Undoubtedly they are out there and we know of some 300 caves in the area. Our team is planning to return to excavate other caves in the near future.”

History has been made by Price and his team and even greater secrets lay ahead to be uncovered. According to a news release from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the excavations are part of “Operation Scroll,” a joint effort by the university, the Israel Antiquities Authority, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority and the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria.

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Photos for download: (Credit for all photos to Casey L. Olson and Oren Gutfeld):

Original press release by Hebrew University here: http://new.huji.ac.il/en/article/33424