“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," said Dr. Oren Gutfeld, one of the project’s lead archaeologists.
After a bit of work with a small pickax, the team made a monumental find: an unbroken storage jar with a scroll. It was rushed to Hebrew University’s conservation lab, where it was unfurled in a protected environment.
“At some point hidden in the tunnel, we found a few [three] broken storage jars with the lid," said Gutfeld. The team also found the cloth coverings and the leather strap that bound the scrolls the jars once held.
Over the last few years, researchers believe Dead Sea Scroll fragments made their way onto the antiquity black market. According to Gutfeld, that resurgence led authorities and researchers to embark on the task of surveying all the caves at Qumran in the Judean desert.
According to a news release from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the excavations are part of “Operation Scroll," a joint effort by the university, the Israel Antiquities Authority, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority and the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria.