"The Cave of Horror" has given up a new wonder: the first fragments of the ancient Dead Sea Scrolls found in 60 years. Israeli archeologists have been combing the caves and ravines of the Judean Desert since 2017 in the hope of beating looters to relics preserved in the hot and arid landscape. From "the Cave of Horror," named for the 40 human skeletons found there in the 1950s, came dozens of fragments of parchment featuring text from the Twelve Minor Prophets of the Hebrew Bible, specifically the books of Zechariah and Nahum, the Israel Antiquities Authority said Tuesday. Written mostly in Greek, they've been dated to the second century AD and are thought to be the missing piece of another Minor Prophets scroll found in 1952, per Haaretz. The IAA said these were the first fragments of a biblical scroll found in "approximately 60 years," per Deutsche Welle.
Archaeologists also found rare coins bearing Jewish symbols which, like the skeletons, are thought to date to a revolt against the Romans in the second century CE, when the 900 or so discovered scrolls may have been hidden; the 6,000-year-old skeleton of a child, likely a female aged 6 to 12, who'd been mummified in a piece of cloth; and what might be the world's oldest surviving basket. Believed to be more than 10,500 years old, the lidded basket found at the Muraba'at caves in the Nahal Darga Reserve is made from woven reeds and has a capacity of 100 liters, per Haaretz. IAA Director Israel Hasson says these are "gifts of immeasurable worth for mankind," per the Washington Post. One line of text from the scroll advises, "Speak the truth to one another, render true and perfect justice in your gates. And do not contrive evil against one another," per Haaretz. (Read more Dead Sea scrolls stories.)