Study of garments found with scrolls in Qumran caves seems to support contested theory of separatist Essene authorship.By Nir Hasson
Dr. Orit Shamir of the Israel Antiquities Authority with some of the cloths found with the Dead Sea Scrolls that have now been analyzed. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi
When the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in caves in the Judean Desert, tattered pieces of fabric were found with them, sometimes wrapping them and sometimes stuffed into the jars in which they were found. Scholars, focusing on the scrolls, arguably the most important archaeological discovery of the 20th century, ascribed little importance to the fabric.
But in recent years, Dr. Orit Shamir of the Israel Antiquitied Authority and Naama Sukenik (a relative of Eliezer Sukenik, who identified the scrolls ) of Bar-Ilan University have shone their scholarly spotlight on the crumbling cloth.
Soon to be published in the prestigious Dead Sea Discoveries journal, their conclusions will likely not put to rest the heated debate over the identity of the people who wrote the scrolls. But scholars who surmise that the ancient volumes were written by a separatist sect will find in the research support for their position.
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