Solving the Mystery of the Best-Preserved Dead Sea Scroll

Sept. 9 2019

Of all the ancient parchment texts that have been discovered in the caves of Qumran, one, known to researchers as the Temple Scroll, has withstood the ravages of time to an exceptional extent. A recent scientific study may explain how, as Luke Tress writes:

[Most of the] scrolls were written on animal skins that had been stripped of hair [and] thinned. But unlike [the others], the Temple Scroll had an added layer of inorganic material, essentially finishing the process. Today, the scroll stands out from the rest in the Israel Museum’s collection because of its thinness and bright ivory color, which is in stark contrast to the dark hue of most of the other scrolls, due to the tanning processes used in their production.

According to the researchers, the Temple Scroll has a multilayered structure, with the text written on an ivory-colored inorganic layer, mostly made up of salts, on the inner side of the skin—[while] most of the [other] scrolls have writing on the side of the skin that once had the animal’s hair. The finding suggests “a unique ancient production technology in which the parchment was modified through the addition of the inorganic layer as a writing surface,” the researchers write.

While the team cannot say definitively where most of the minerals came from, they have determined that the salts did not originate in the caves and are not common in the Dead Sea region.

Therefore, they conclude, it is likely that this scroll was produced outside of the Land of Israel, perhaps elsewhere in the Mediterranean.

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Archaeology, Dead Sea Scrolls

The Evidence of BDS Anti-Semitism Speaks for Itself

Oct. 18 2019

Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs recently released a lengthy report titled Behind the Mask, documenting the varieties of naked anti-Semitic rhetoric and imagery employed by the movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction the Jewish state (BDS). Drawn largely but not exclusively from Internet sources, its examples range from a tweet by a member of Students for Justice in Palestine (the “world would be soooo much better without jews man”), to an enormous inflated pig bearing a star of David and floating behind the stage as the rock musician Roger Waters performs, to accusations by an influential anti-Israel blogger that Israel is poisoning Palestinian wells. Cary Nelson sums up the report’s conclusions and their implications, all of which give the lie to the disingenuous claim that critics of BDS are trying to brand “legitimate criticism of Israel” as anti-Semitic.

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Read more at Fathom

More about: Anti-Semitism, BDS, Roger Waters, Social media