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Sat Sep 7, 2019, 10:31 PM

Sulfur, Sodium - A Mysterious Salt Combination Preserved The Dead Sea Scrolls For Millennia

By News Staff | September 7th 2019 06:54 AM

First discovered in 1947 by Bedouin shepherds looking for a lost sheep, the ancient Hebrew texts now known as the Dead Sea Scrolls are some of the most well-preserved ancient written materials ever found.

And among the roughly 900 full or partial scrolls found in the years since that first discovery, the best preserved is the Temple Scroll, at almost 25 feet also among the longest. It is the best-preserved even though its material is the thinnest of all of them (one-tenth of a millimeter, or roughly 1/250th of an inch thick). It also has the clearest, whitest writing surface of all the scrolls.

A new study found it is due to a combination of salts, and they didn't come from the Dead Sea. The mixture of salts found in evaporites, the material left from the evaporation of brines, was different from the typical composition found on other parchments.

The scrolls were, in general, placed in jars and hidden in 11 caves on the steep hillsides just north of the Dead Sea, in the region around the ancient settlement of Qumran, which was destroyed by the Romans about 2,000 years ago. It is believed that to protect their religious and cultural heritage from the invaders, members of a sect called the Essenes hid the documents in the caves, often buried under a few feet of debris and bat guano to help foil looters.


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