Researchers Reveal Why Dead Sea Scroll Has Remained Well-Preserved for 2,000 Years
Fri, December 3, 2021

Researchers Reveal Why Dead Sea Scroll Has Remained Well-Preserved for 2,000 Years

 

In 1946, a shepherd in the Qumran Caves of the Judean desert accidentally discovered a mysterious collection of ancient manuscripts. It consisted of astrological charts, calendars, and biblical texts. Most of these documents, which scientists called the Dead Sea Scrolls, have deteriorated over time. However, some of them were found in impressive, well-preserved condition. Thus, scientists have wondered how these ancient scrolls survived so well for over 2,000 years. 

 

Photo Credit: All That's Interesting

 

A 25-foot piece of scroll known as the Temple Scroll was one of the highlights of the discovery. Previous studies showed that it had several distinct layers, which other Dead Sea Scrolls don’t have. This includes an organic layer, made of animal skin, and an inorganic layer of minerals. However, none of this explained why the scroll was still in a relatively good condition. 

 

Photo Credit: All That's Interesting

 

Using a multitude of X-ray tools and Raman spectroscopy, a technique used to figure out the chemical composition of a substance using laser light pattern, the scientists discovered traces of a salty mineral solution in the scrolls. All That’s Interesting, a site for curious people who want to know more about what they see on the news or read in history books, reported that the mixture of salts was made of sulfur, sodium, calcium, and other elements. They concluded that the special salty coating saved the Temple Scroll from deteriorating since salt has strong properties for preservation.

 

Photo Credit: All That's Interesting

 

However, the scientists found out that the cave where the scroll was found has no components that make up the salt coating. This suggests that the ancient scroll was likely exported from somewhere outside the Dead Sea region. Study co-author Ira Rabin of Germany’s Hamburg University stated, "The study also shows how to identify the initial treatments, thus providing historians and conservators with a new set of analytical tools for classification of the Dead Sea Scrolls and other ancient parchments."

 

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