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Discovered between between 19, the Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of 972 ancient manuscripts containing parts of what is now known as the Hebrew Bible, as well as a range of extra-biblical documents.
They were first 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.
Dr Oren Gutfeld, who led the study, said: '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.
The finding of pottery and of numerous flint blades (left), arrowheads, and a decorated stamp seal made of carnelian, a semi-precious stone (right), also revealed that this cave was used in the Chalcolithic and the Neolithic periods'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.'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.
They are the world's oldest biblical manuscripts, yet researchers believe that many Dead Sea Scrolls lie undiscovered.
In the hunt to find the precious relics, researchers have discovered a new cave near the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea.
Were its inhabitants responsible for the scrolls and their presence in the caves?The texts are of great historical and religious significance and include the earliest known surviving copies of biblical and extra-biblical documents, as well as preserving evidence of diversity in late Second Temple Judaism.