Israeli authorities are stepping up the fight to save the country’s unrecovered ancient scrolls from the hands of antiquities robbers.
The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), the Heritage Project of the Jerusalem Affairs Ministry, and Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev are promoting a national program of archaeological excavations in the caves of the Judean Desert to save the ancient scrolls cached there, the earliest extant manuscripts written in Hebrew.
“For years, our most important cultural and heritage assets have been dug up and robbed in the Judean Desert in the name of greed,” said IAA Director Israel Hasson. “The goal of the national program we’re promoting is to excavate and discover all the scrolls that remain in the caves once and for all, so they can be saved and preserved by the state.”
Regev said, “The antiquities looters are looting the history of the Land of Israel. We can’t allow that. The scrolls are the most exciting, important testimony to the existence of the people of Israel in the Land of Israel 2,000 years ago, and they were discovered close to the time of the [Jews’] return to Zion and the establishment of the state….We have an obligation to protect these unique treasures, which belong to the Jewish people and the world as a whole. I’ll work to increase punishments for antiquities looters.”