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Unopened 2,000-Year-Old Dead Sea Scrolls Rediscovered After Being Overlooked for Decades


"Either they didn’t realize that these were also scrolls, or they didn’t know how to open them."

Image source: Israel Antiquities Authority

Nine unopened Dead Sea Scrolls that were tucked away inside Israel Antiquities Authority storage rooms for six decades will soon be opened after they were recently rediscovered by an Israeli scholar.

The penny-sized parchments, which were found in caves at Qumran, an archeological site in the West Bank in the 1950s, haven't been opened in 2,000 years.

It is believed that the scrolls could offer new information about religious practices in Second Temple Judaism (530 B.C. to 70 A.D.), the Times of Israel reported.

Image source: Israel Image source: Israel Antiquities Authority/Clara Amit

While they were found decades ago along with other scrolls, somehow these nine, tiny documents were overlooked until Dr. Yonatan Adler, a professor at Israel's Ariel University, noticed them while searching storage rooms.

The documents were inside three small leather boxes called phylacteries -- also known as tefillin. These boxes, which are traditionally worn by Jews during prayer, have Bible verses on them.

Suspecting that they might contain scrolls, Adler subsequently took the boxes to a hospital to be scanned by a CT -- and his suspicions were substantiated.

"Either they didn’t realize that these were also scrolls, or they didn’t know how to open them," Pnina Shor, curator of the Israel Antiquities Authority's Dead Sea Scrolls Projects, told the Times of Israel.

Shore will be responsible for overseeing the opening of the scrolls in a process that will require a great deal of research and care, especially considering that they have been bound and unopened for centuries.

"We’re going to do it slowly, but we’ll first consult with all of our experts about how to go about this," she said.

Image source: Israel Antiquities Authority Image source: Israel Antiquities Authority/Shai Halevi

No bombshells are expected to emerge from the scrolls' contents, according to Professor Lawrence Shiffman of Yeshiva University, an expert on Second Temple Judaism.

"Given the amount of research that’s been done… important discoveries like this don't overturn previous ideas," he said. "We’re going to be able to augment what we know about the tefillin already."

Nine hundred religious manuscripts were found in 11 different caves in Qumran in the 1940s and 1950s, the Daily Mail reported.

(H/T: Times of Israel)


Featured image via Israel Antiquities Authority

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