New Dead Sea Discoveries 
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 New Dead Sea Discoveries

>From Associated Press:

 7:23 PM (ET) 8/11

Untouched Dead Sea Caves Found

 JERUSALEM (AP) -- The discovery of four undisturbed, man-made caves in
the chalky hills of Qumran, near where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found,
has raised hopes of finding more of the ancient manuscripts.

Archaeologists, who announced the year-old discovery Friday, are racing
against time before the Qumran area of the West Bank is handed over to
Palestinian control. Excavation is set to begin in November.

``I know we are running out of time,'' said Hanan Eshel, an archaeologist
from Bar Ilan University who discovered the caves. ``A lot of things can
happen: They may collapse, someone may loot them or maybe the political
situation will change.''

Palestinians have criticized as plundering hurried Israeli efforts to
excavate archaeological sites in areas being turned over to Palestinian

Israel occupied the West Bank and other Arab lands during the 1967
Mideast war, and it signed a U.N. convention in 1954 that forbids
excavation and removal of ``cultural artifacts'' by foreign occupiers.

The caves are not far from where Arab shepherds found the first Dead Sea
Scrolls, ancient manuscripts that include poetry, legal texts and the
earliest known sections of the Bible.

The scrolls were found in 11 natural and man-made caves between 1947 and
1956, during which time the area was under Jordanian control. Man-made
caves yielded the majority of the manuscripts -- raising the expectation
among archaeologists that the latest caves may contain new treasures.

The newly discovered caves are carved in marl, a crumbly mix of clay,
sand and limestone, similar to one of the earlier caves that contained
530 of the 850 Dead Sea Scrolls.

Unfortunately, the scrolls found in the marl cave had not survived well,
and archaeologists are still piecing together the 15,000 fragments
unearthed there.

``The chances of finding scrolls in good condition are not very high,''
Eshel conceded.

Eshel believes the caves were inhabited by the Essenes, a Jewish sect
that produced the Dead Sea Scrolls and lived in the area between about
150 B.C. and A.D. 50. He said he has located trails leading from the
caves to the Essenes settlement at Qumran.

``Even if we don't find anything and they are totally empty it offers
more information on how these people lived,'' he said.

Because the area around Qumran was so extensively excavated and surveyed
after the scrolls were found, the discovery of the caves about a year ago
was a surprise to experts.

To prevent looting, their existence was kept secret until the
archaeologists were ready to begin excavation. The entrances have been
hidden and the exact locations have not been disclosed.

``They haven't been touched. These caves are pure and sealed,'' said
Magen Broshi, the former curator of the Dead Sea Scrolls at the Israel
Museum. Broshi came out of retirement to join the excavation with Eshel.

Before turning over the Jericho region to the PLO, ``Operation Scroll''
unearthed a number of 2nd century documents, jewelry and coins, prompting
Palestinian officials to denounce what they called Israeli plundering.

Palestinian officials were unavailable for comment on the latest
announcement Friday, the Muslim sabbath. The Palestinian Authority has a
small, fledgling unit concerned with archaeology that has undertaken digs
inside Jericho.

Eshel and Broshi expressed concerns that the Palestinians would have
little interest and limited resources to organize an excavation or
protect the Qumran sites if the Israelis handed the area over to them in
a peace deal.

``It is a site interesting to Christians and Jews, but the Palestinians
never worked there. ... If it were handed over I think it would be robbed
before any excavation would be done,'' Eshel said.

Palestinians are mostly Muslim, but a minority of them are Christian.

Broshi said he was n

<snip>  (sorry, the rest is lost)

I found this article and I haven't heard anything since.  Does anyone
know if any scrolls have been found in these new caves?  Or anything else
about them?

Please email if you know anything.


Sat, 14 Feb 1998 03:00:00 GMT
 [ 1 post ] 

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