a Team of scientists from Israel and Sweden conducted a DNA analysis of the famous Dead sea scrolls in hopes of finding fingerprints on them and shed light on the history of their creation. The results suggest that at least some of the scrolls were created in Qumran caves, where they were found.
an Intriguing study published in the journal Cell, and briefly about it tells Phys.org. It was conducted by scientists from tel Aviv University in Israel and the University of Uppsala in Sweden.
Collection of the Dead sea scrolls has over 25 thousand fragments. It is considered the most ancient manuscripts of the biblical texts. They were found in 1940-1950-ies in the 11 caves of Qumran. Their age is 2000 and little more than a thousand years.
Scientists expected to find on parchments genetic fingerprints of ancient people. But the task proved difficult. Most of the fragments of the scrolls were received by museums and private collectors from the hands of dealers in antiquities. Many of them have recently been recognized as fakes.
However, the study still brought sensational results. Scientists from each of the studied fragment was extracted ancient DNA of animals. The DNA sequence showed that the parchments were mostly made of sheep skin. Previously, it was not known. Next, the researchers compared DNA from different scrolls.
They suggested that if the scrolls are made from the skin of a single sheep or sheep related to each other, it will specify the relationship of the scrolls themselves and texts on them. The researchers found a curious fact: two fragments, which were regarded as parts of one scroll, were made of different materials. One was made from the skin of sheep, and the other from cow leather. The scientists suggested that these fragments were not a single entity, although the texts they are consistent.
the presence of the DNA of a cow suggests that the parchment could not be manufactured at Qumran. In the Judean desert at that time it was impossible to breed cows. Scientists compared the texts written on parchments from the skin of different animals. It turned out that they are not identical.
for Example, copies of the prophecies of Jeremiah were taken from two different versions of the book of this prophet. The version on the cow’s skin is different from the version on the skin of the sheep. The same applies to the copies of the biblical book of Isaiah – one of the most popular in ancient Judea. A copy of the cow’s skin was probably created in another region. The researchers plan to further study and identify this place.
it is Interesting that many fragments found in various caves of Qumran, proved to be genetically closely linked. Among them are non-biblical text known as “Songs of the Sabbath sacrifice”. He was devoted to funeral rites, “foreshadowed the revolutionary events” and was very popular in Judea. This is indicated by the fact that h��on parchment with a similar text was found at Masada about 55 km from Qumran.
However, the parchment from Masada was made from the skin of sheep, which has a completely different genetic line. This suggests that the Dead sea scrolls could be created in different places, in parallel, on different material. This explains the differences that they find in the texts. It seems that only the most ancient manuscripts created “a blueprint” and then the authors began to allow liberties that led to the discrepancy.