This Dead Sea Scroll, which has recently been found in the state of Montana, is certainly a bit nicer to look at as it has been anticipated that this ancient papyrus is around 2700 years old and particularly originates from the First Temple Period. The place where it has finally been discovered is located about 6,000 miles away from the U.S. and was retrieved from its owner, who said that his mother received it as a gift back in 1965 when she visited Jerusalem. However, the current owner decided to preserve the holy fragment with the Israel Antiques Authority (IAA) lab because usually such scrolls are conserved there.
Coupled with this, Joe Uziel, director of the IAA Judean Desert Scrolls Unit, said, “Towards the end of the First Temple period, writing was widespread. However, First Temple-period documents written on organic materials (such as this papyrus) have scarcely survived. Whilst we have thousands of scroll fragments dating from the Second Temple period, we have only three documents, including this newly found one, from the First Temple period. Each new document sheds further light on the literacy and the administration of the First Temple period. “
Moreover, this ancient papyrus contains only four mysterious lines, which do not even form complete sentences due to the paper being torn. However, the lines can be seen to start with the words “to Ishmael send” when translated from Hebrew. According to Professor Ahituv, from Ben Gurion University of the Negev, “The name Ishmael, mentioned in the document, was a common name in the biblical period, meaning ‘God will hear’. It first appears in the Bible as the name of the son of Abraham and Hagar, and it is subsequently the personal name of several individuals in the Bible.”
“It also appears as the name of officials on palaeographic finds such as bullae – clay stamp seals – used for sealing royal documents in the administration of the Kingdom of Judah,” he further stated. To verify and authenticate the document that dated back to ancient times, the owner first took it to the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, where it was radiometrically examined, and they confirmed its authentication.
As per Eitan Klein, from the Theft Prevention Unit of the IAA, “Returning this document to Israel is part of ongoing efforts to protect and preserve the cultural heritage of the state of Israel. It’s a heritage that belongs to all its citizens, playing a role in the story of the historical heritage of the country and its inhabitants over the centuries.” “The legal and worthy place for this artifact is in the IAA Dead Sea Scrolls Unit, and we are making every effort to retrieve additional fragmentary scrolls located abroad, and to bring them to Israel,” he said.