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Ancient Mysteries

Origin of Dead Sea Scrolls called into question

September 7, 2019 | Comment icon 5 comments



Were all the scrolls prepared in the Dead Sea region ? Image Credit: CC BY 2.0 Israel Defense Forces
A new study has revealed that one of the scrolls was prepared using salts not native to the Dead Sea region.
Considered to be some of the most important ancient texts ever discovered, the Dead Sea Scrolls are comprised of several hundred documents dating back more than 2,000 years. They were found inside eleven caves in the eastern Judaean Desert between 1946 and 1956.

Now a renewed analysis of the Temple scroll - a particularly notable manuscript that was reportedly sold by the Bedouins to an antique dealer who kept it in a shoe box under his bed - has revealed a previously unknown technique that the creators of the scroll used to prepare the parchment.

Curiously, it turns out that the writing layer on the scroll uses salts not common to the Dead Sea region, thus throwing up questions about exactly where it originated.

"This inorganic layer that is really clearly visible on the Temple scroll surprised us and induced us to look more in detail how this scroll was prepared, and it turns out to be quite unique," said study co-author Admir Masic from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
"These salts are not typical for anything we knew about associated with this period and parchment making."

The findings have produced some heated debate over the scrolls' origins.

"I am not the least surprised to learn that a part of the scrolls was not prepared in the Dead Sea region," said Prof Jonathan Ben-Dov from the University of Haifa.

"It would be naive to assume that they were all prepared there."

Source: The Guardian | Comments (5)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by qxcontinuum 3 years ago
If I would suggest to scholars a new region to research that'll be the Black Sea
Comment icon #2 Posted by third_eye 3 years ago
Hang on, my undies are made in China, does that make me not Malaysian?  ~
Comment icon #3 Posted by Seti42 3 years ago
People import and export salts all the time. It is odd to use a salt in preparation here that's not native to the area, salt is abundant there. Why import it? This could very well mean that the particular scroll/text in question wasn't made where it was found.
Comment icon #4 Posted by third_eye 3 years ago
Salt was practically gold back in the days, possibly a contribution from some benefactor of means, the people that hid the scrolls had to hide themselves too, the possibility of getting local salts would mean they had to have means to great sestertii if not on good terms with the divine rulers of its day... Meaning possibly  impossible ... ~
Comment icon #5 Posted by Manwon Lender 3 years ago
That's pretty strange, the implications are that Scroll may have come from a different location or that the salt used on it may have been cross contaminated during the process used to make the Scroll. It could have also been contaminated before it was made part of the collection. There could be many implications that has caused the difference in a single Scroll. I am sure in time this  will become clear to the researchers as time go's by.


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