The Dead Sea scrolls are a collection of ancient Jewish texts, predominantly written in Hebrew, that were discovered in 1947 by Bedouin shepherds searching for one of their sheep which had got lost. They were found in the caves in Qumran, and have become one of the most talked about, and controversial discoveries ever since.
Although mostly religious texts, they also contain fragments of ancient calendars and early astronomical observations.
It’s widely thought that the Dead Sea Scrolls were written by an ancient Jewish sect called the Essenes. The texts collectively are written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, although no concrete evidence has been found to date which proves the Essenes were in fact the authors of the scrolls.
A new discovery however, has found a salty substance on one of the best preserved texts, which is thought to be from outside the region where they were initially discovered. It’s thought the chemical that has been found on the texts is responsible for the scrolls preservation.
Scientists have discovered a layer of glauberite and thenardite – sulphate that had been spread across the scrolls. These are minerals that are not thought to be found in the caves, or in the Dead Sea region.
This solution has not been found on any other previously studied scroll, proving that the text written in the Dead Sea Scrolls isn’t the only cause for study, but that they were created using an impressive variety of techniques.
Scientists now say the scrolls must be stored correctly to continue their preservation, as the salty solution used in their ancient preservation, could be the factor that destroys them in the near future. This is due to the salt sucking moisture out of the air.
The Dead Sea Scrolls continue to surprise scientists, and will no doubt reveal more secrets in the future.