The world’s oldest known biblical documents, Dead Sea Scrolls, may have been probably written by a sect called the Essenes, a new study has revealed.
The scholars, Orit Shamir, curator of organic materials at the Israel Antiquities Authority, and Naama Sukenik, a graduate student at Bar-Ilan University studied material discovered in caves at Qumran, in the West Bank and compared the white-linen textiles found in the caves to others found elsewhere in ancient Israel.
It was found that some parts were bleached white, even though fabrics from the period often have vivid colours.
But not everyone agrees with their opinion, as some of them believe the linen used could have come from people fleeing the Roman army after the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, and that they are in fact responsible for putting the scrolls into caves.
Shamir and Sukenik focussed on the 200 textiles found in the Dead Sea Scroll caves and at Qumran itself, knowing that these are the only surviving textiles related to the scrolls.
They discovered that every single one of these textiles was made of linen, even though wool was the most popular fabric at the time in Israel.
They also found that most of the textiles would have originally been used as clothing, later being cut apart and re-used for other purposes such as bandages and for packing the scrolls into jars.
“They wanted to be different than the Roman world,” the Daily Mail quoted Shamir as telling LiveScience.
“They were very humble, they didn’t want to wear colorful textiles, they wanted to use very simple textiles.”
“This is very, very, important,” Shamir said.
Shamir emphasised that textiles found at sites where people were under stress, such as at the Cave of Letters, used in a revolt against the Romans, were often patched.
On the other hand ‘if the site is in a very good economic situation, if it is a very rich site, the textiles will not be patched,’ she said.
The textiles are of high quality and, based on the archaeological finds at Qumran itself, where there is little evidence of spindle whorls or loom weights, the team thinks it”s unlikely they would have been made at the site.
The Dead Sea Scrolls consist of nearly 900 texts, the first batch of which was discovered by a Bedouin shepherd in 1947.
The mystery about the biblical documents has been debated for centuries and the scholars previously believed the 2,000-year-old scrolls were written by a Jewish sect from Qumran in the Judean Desert and were hidden in the caves around 70AD, when the Romans destroyed the temple in Jerusalem.