Dead Sea Scroll Fragments Contain Hidden Text

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Fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls thought to be blank have now been reexamined. They contain a hidden text that hasn’t been read for lots of decades, or much longer. 

The scrolls are a set of old religious manuscripts from the third century BCE. They were found in the West Bank’s caves back in the 1940s. Thanks to a chance discovery in the UK, now we know more about what they mean. Even if the Dead Sea Scrolls are still a mystery, researchers succeeded in finding something useful. 

The Dead Sea Scrolls Puzzle is Now Analyzed

Researchers have realized that a set of blank fragments preserved for 20 years at the University of Manchester are hiding something. The Dead Sea Scrolls in question were recently reexamined by Joan Taylor, a historian, and archaeologist from King’s College London. 

To find out more details, Joan and her team imaged 51 fragments in the Ronald Reed’s collection. Reed was a leather and parchment expert and received a significant collection of fragments from the Jordanian government back in the 1950s. The collection – that everyone believed to be blank – was given for scientific testing and other investigations. Since there didn’t seem to be any text on the scrolls, they were considered to possess little value to scholars. 

Joan discovered that only six fragments warranted further examination. Of these, four were later identified to comprise readable Aramaic/Hebrew text written in carbon-based ink. The investigation continues, and the researchers have unveiled that the most substantial fragment has four lines of partially preserved text, including 15-16 letters each. The word “Shabbat (Sabbath)” can be read, and Joan believes it could be related to the biblical book of Ezekiel (46:1-3).

Joan explained: “With new techniques for revealing ancient texts now available, I felt we had to know if these letters could be exposed.” 

The findings also show that the fragments reexamined are the only authenticated textual fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls done by any institution in the UK. 

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