Israeli researchers decipher one of the last unpublished Dead Sea Scrolls

After over a year of piecing together dozens of tiny and ancient fragments, two Haifa University researchers have successfully reconstructed and deciphered one of the last two unpublished Dead Sea Scrolls, finding a unique 364-day calendar from the Second Temple period.
Dead Sea region Photo Credit: Andrew McIntire/TPS

Two Haifa University researchers have reconstructed and deciphered one of the last two unpublished Dead Sea Scrolls. Dr. Eshbal Ratson and Prof. Jonathan Ben-Dov of Haifa University’s Department of Bible Studies spent more than 12 months piecing together over 60 small fragments of the scroll that is written in a secret code.  

Their work revealed a unique 364-day calendar that a group of Jewish people of the Judean Desert used during the Second Temple period. The researchers’ work also revealed for the first time the special name that the group gave to the days marking the transitions between each season.

In a statement, the researchers described this 364-day calendar as “perfect.” They explained that because the number of days can be divided by four and seven, holidays and special occasions always fell on the same day year after year.

Most of the some 900 Dead Sea Scrolls, also known as the Qumran Scrolls, were discovered in the 1940s and 1950s and have already been deciphered and published.

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