Dozens of new Dead Sea Scroll fragments thought to have been hidden during a Jewish revolt against Rome 1,900 years ago have been found in a cave.
The fragments include lines of Greek text from the biblical books of Zechariah and Nahum and were radiocarbon dated to the 2nd century AD, experts confirmed.
The Israel Antiquities Authority say they were found in a remote canyon in the Judean Desert, south of Jerusalem - the first find of its kind in 60 years.
Israeli archaeologists announced the discovery of new Dead Sea Scroll fragments dating to 2nd century, the first new discovery in 60 years. https://t.co/XQTgI8CTJU— The Associated Press (@AP) March 16, 2021
The new pieces are believed to belong to a larger set of parchment fragments that include a Greek rendition of the Twelve Minor Prophets.
It is thought the newly found fragments are the missing parts of those scrolls, which were first found in 1952. They include Micah's prophecy about the End of Days.
The IAA explained that while it is written in Greek, the new scroll fragments include the name of God in ancient Hebrew letters from the First Temple Period.
The scrolls themselves come from a time before the modern 'Old Testament' was finalised in the form we know it today, experts explained.
The fragments were found in a site known as The Cave Of Horror, which lies in the southern cliff of Nahal Hever, near the Cave of Letters where many documents from the Bar Kochba Revolt were uncovered.
The revolt involved an armed Jewish uprising against Rome during the reign of Emperor Hadrian, between 132 and 136 AD.
The revolt was the result of religious and political tensions in Judea, linked to the establishment of a large Roman military presence in the region.
When the cave was excavated in the 1950s archaeologists found skeletons of 40 men, women and children who had sought refuge in the cave during the revolt.
Dead Sea scroll fragments and 'world's oldest basket' found in desert cave https://t.co/OdZ5H5wOWV— Guardian news (@guardiannews) March 16, 2021
There was also a cache of coins from the same time period, bearing the typical Jewish symbols of the time including a harp and date palm.
The remains of a Roman camp have previously been found on a cliff close to where the cave is located. Researchers believe the Romans besieged the cave until rebels inside starved to death or succumbed to thirst.
As well as the fragments, the team also found what could be the oldest surviving basket in the world, made of woven reeds.
It has a lid and could be 10,500 years old based on radiocarbon dating. That pre-dates the arrival of pottery in the region.
It is thought the scrolls and basket survived due to the heat and aridity in the region.
The objects were discovered as part of a wider mission to find prehistoric and biblical relics in the region to reduce the risk of looting.
Caves and ravines are being combed by experts, as part of the project that first started in 2017.
The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of Jewish texts found in desert caves in the West Bank near Qumran in the 1940s and 1950s.
They date from the 3rd century BC to the 1st century AD and include the earliest known copies of biblical text and documents.
The original scrolls were found by shepherd Muhammed Edh-Dhib as he searched for a stray among the limestone cliffs at Khirbet Qumran on the shores of the Dead Sea in what was then British Mandate Palestine - now the West Bank.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.