Monday, September 21, 2020

Researchers Using Animal DNA to Piece Together Dead Sea Scrolls

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When you think of how many Dead Sea Scrolls there are it would be easy to get overwhelmed. With just about 1,000 of them it would be difficult to know where to begin and which of them went together. But now researchers are using a new method to date and file them. Animal DNA.

Since the scrolls are written on sheepskin and cow skin they are using that information to determine which ones come from the same animals. This will then help them to date which scrolls were most likely written around the same time. They are also able to extract very tiny amounts of DNA keeping the scrolls in tact and not having to destroy the precious artifacts that they’ve found. This information comes to us from molecular biologist Oded Rechavi of Tel Aviv University and his colleagues via sciencenews.org.

The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls was one of the biggest in our lifetime. Written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and ancient Greek they contain some of the oldest known scripts from the Hebrew Bible. Even if you aren’t a religious person the discovery is a big one. Religion has been prevalent in the world since the beginning of the written word(and before) and to be able to decipher a part of history is an amazing accomplishment.

They also contain writings of legal and philosophical writings of the time. Most of these scrolls were found between 1947 and 1960. With the first of them being found by a Bedouin shepherd Muhammed edh-Dhib, his cousin Jum’a Muhammed, and Khalil Musa, who tossed a rock into a cave near Qumran and heard a jar cracking in 1947.

Caves in the Judean Desert where the Dead Sea Scrolls were first discovered ( CC 2.0 )

The Dead Sea Scrolls also contain many religious texts of what they think was a Hebrew sect that broke off of mainstream Judaism. The scrolls are 2,000 years old and have religious developments of what was happening across Southern Israel. They were written between the third century B.C. and the first century A.D.

If they can begin putting together which scrolls were written when then it would give us an even more complete timeline of the Southern Isreal area then we already have. Making a more complete picture of the history of the world.

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