The Dead Sea Scrolls contain genetic clues to their origins

Tuesday, June 2, 2020 - 10:21 in Paleontology & Archaeology

Genetic clues extracted from slivers of the famous Dead Sea Scrolls are helping to piece together related scroll remnants and reveal the diverse origins of these ancient texts, including a book of the Hebrew Bible. The scrolls are made of sheepskin and cow skin, which retain DNA from those animals. Analyzing that DNA represents a new way to figure out which of the more than 25,000 Dead Sea Scroll fragments come from the same animals, and thus likely the same documents, say molecular biologist Oded Rechavi of Tel Aviv University and his colleagues. Findings so far suggest that the Dead Sea Scrolls reflect religious and biblical developments across southern Israel around 2,000 years ago, not just among people who lived near the caves where many scrolls were stored, as some scholars have contended, Rechavi’s team reports June 2 in Cell. Researchers estimate that the Dead Sea Scrolls were written between the third century B.C. and the first century A.D., during what’s...

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