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Israeli scientists decipher 1,500 year-old biblical scroll

An Israel Antiquities Authority worker displays a scroll (L), found in 1970, along with other findings, that are yet to be analysed, at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem July 20, 2015.
REUTERS/Amir Cohen
Burnt scroll found 45 years ago in archaeological excavations is oldest biblical text since Dead Sea Scrolls

Israeli archaeologists said on Monday they had discerned biblical writing on a 1,500 year old scroll they deemed the oldest biblical text found since the Dead Sea Scrolls. 

REUTERS/Amir CohenThe completely charred scroll, which was found forty five years ago in archaeological excavations at Ein Gedi, on the western shore of the Dead Sea, was unveiled at the Israel Antiquities Authority Jerusalem laboratory in the Israel Museum.

Scientists and researchers around the globe who worked over one year to decipher the biblical verses, using state of the art and advanced technologies, were surprised to find the scroll to be a 1,500 year old copy of the first eight verses of the Book of Leviticus.

"This discovery absolutely astonished us," said Pnina Shor, curator and director of the IAA's Dead Sea Scrolls Projects. 

"We were certain it was just a shot in the dark but decided to try and scan the burnt scroll anyway. Now, not only can we bequeath the Dead Sea Scrolls to future generations, but also a part of the Bible from a Holy Ark of a 1,500-year old synagogue!”

"The knowledge that we are preserving the most important find of the 20th century and one of the western world’s most important cultural treasures causes us to proceed with the utmost care and caution and use the most advanced technologies available today," she added.

To decipher the burnt remains, the IAA began working with Merkel Technologies Company, Ltd. Israel, which performed high resolution 3D scanning of some Dead Sea Scrolls fragments and phylactery cases via a Micro-CT scanner.

After the fragment of the Ein Gedi scroll was scanned, the IAA sent the results to Professor Brent Seales of the University of Kentucky, who developed a digital-imaging software capable of virtually unrolling the scroll and visualizing the text.

“The deciphering of the scroll, which was a puzzle for us for 45 years, is very exciting,” said Dr. Sefi Porath, who led the Ein Gedi excavations.  

REUTERS/Amir CohenAccording to Porath, Ein Gedi – a Jewish village in the Byzantine period during the 4th to 7th century CE – was once a prospering community that housed a synagogue featuring a mosaic floor and Holy Ark.

“The settlement was completely burnt to the ground, and none of its inhabitants ever returned to reside there again, or to pick through the ruins in order to salvage valuable property,” he explained.

“In the archaeological excavations of the burnt synagogue, in addition to the charred scroll fragments, we found a bronze seven-branched candelabrum [menorah], the community’s money box containing 3,500 coins, glass and ceramic oil lamps, and vessels that held perfume.”

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A stunning story, shame that it will never receive any coverage on BBC news or Sky news as it cannot compete with the daily ISIS / Arab / Muslim terrorist attacks grabbing the news headlines.

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