Nine tiny fragments believed to be part of the Dead Sea Scrolls have been uncovered in Israel. Israeli scholars originally discovered the penny-sized pieces in the 1950s, but the fragments were forgotten amidst several other astounding finds at the time.
Dr. Yonatan Adler, a professor at Ariel University, found the scrolls, seemingly untouched for six decades, in a Jerusalem storeroom belonging to the Israel Antiquities Authority last month.
“Either they didn’t realize that these were also scrolls, or they didn’t know how to open them,” Pnina Shor, the head of Dead Sea Scrolls Projects in Israel, told The Times of Israel.
The scrolls were preserved inside phylacteries, or tefillin, for some 2,000 years. These pieces are the only ones still unexamined of the two dozen scroll fragments discovered in the 1950s in limestone caves near the Dead Sea.
“We have to be prepared for surprises,” Professor Hindy Najman, of Yale University, explained to The Times of Israel. “On the one hand there’s tremendous continuity between what we have found among the Dead Sea Scrolls–liturgically, ritually and textually–and contemporaneous and later forms of Judaism. But there’s also tremendous possibility for variegated practices and a complex constellation of different practices, different influences, different ways of thinking about tefillin.”
Still, scholars agree that few bombshells are to be expected from these new fragments. The pieces will likely reinforce previous discoveries and shed more light on the religious practices of Second Temple Judaism.