Archaeology & History
Origin of Dead Sea Scrolls called into question
By T.K. Randall
September 7, 2019 · 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
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