Hidden Text Found on ‘Blank’ Dead Sea Scrolls

By Laura Geggel

Previously hidden text on fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls is now readable, revealing a possible undiscovered scroll and solving a debate about the sacred Temple Scroll. The discoveries came from a new infrared analysis of the artifacts, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced yesterday (May 1).

The newfound writing came from the books of Deuteronomy and Leviticus, which are in the Hebrew Bible (also known as the Old Testament of the Christian Bible), and the Book of Jubilees, a text written at the same time as the Hebrew Bible that was never incorporated into the biblical books, the archaeologists said.

Researchers presented the newly revealed words at an international conference, called “The Dead Sea Scrolls at Seventy: Clear a Path in the Wilderness,” in Israel.

Local Bedouins and archaeologists discovered the Dead Sea Scrolls in the 1940s in caves near Qumran in the West Bank, located near the northern edge of the Dead Sea. Excavations in the following decades turned up tens of thousands of parchment and papyrus fragments that were dated to 2,000 years ago, the IAA said.

There were so many small and fragile fragments that archaeologists placed them in boxes to be studied at a later date. Now, that time has come: IAA researchers are digitizing the scrolls so that they can be studied and shared with the public without damaging the originals.

During one of these digital scans, Oren Ableman, a scroll researcher at the IAA’s Dead Sea Scrolls Unit and a doctoral student in the Department of Jewish History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, noticed something peculiar on a few dozen fragments that had been discovered in Cave 11 near Qumran.

These fragments looked blank to the naked eye. But, by using infrared imaging, Ableman discovered that they held Hebrew letters and words, he said in a statement. Ableman then deciphered the script and even connected the fragments to the manuscripts that they had likely been attached to before crumbling away.

Some of the more interesting fragments include the following:

1) A fragment from the Temple Scroll, a text that gives instructions for how to conduct services in the ideal temple. Scholars have debated whether there are two or three copies of the Temple Scroll from Cave 11. The discovery of the text on this fragment suggests that there are, indeed, three copies.

2) A fragment from the Great Psalms Scroll. This fragment contains part of the beginning of Psalm 147:1, and the end of the verse is preserved in a larger fragment from the same cave. The newfound fragment shows that the ancient Psalm is slightly shorter than the Hebrew text used nowadays.

3) Another fragment has letters written in paleo-Hebrew, an ancient Hebrew script. This fragment could not be attributed to any known manuscripts and could belong to an unknown manuscript.


Humans Cared for Sick Puppies Long Ago, Ancient Burial Shows

The teeth and jaw from the younger dog in the grave: This pup likely had canine distemper.

By Laura Geggel

Ancient people likely cared for a sick, domesticated pup for weeks on end before it died about 14,000 years ago during the Paleolithic era, a new study finds.

After it died, the dog was buried with the remains of another dog and an adult man and woman — making it not only the oldest burial of a domestic dog on record, but also the oldest known grave to contain both dogs and people, the researchers said.

This discovery suggests that even though the dog was young, sick and likely untrained as a result, ancient people still had an emotional bond with it, the researchers wrote in the study. This may explain why the people buried the animal with two of their own, the researchers said.

The grave itself was found in 1914 in Oberkassel, a suburb of Bonn in western Germany. Until now, however, researchers thought the burial contained two humans and just one dog. But a new analysis of the canid bones and teeth revealed that two dogs were in fact buried there: an older dog and a younger dog, which likely had a serious case of morbillivirus, better known as canine distemper.

The younger dog was about 28 weeks old when it died, the study’s lead researcher, Luc Janssens, a veterinarian and doctoral student of archaeology at Leiden University in the Netherlands, said in a statement. A dental analysis showed that the pup likely contracted the disease at around 3 to 4 months of age, and likely had two or even three periods of serious illness, each lasting up to six weeks, Janssens said.

Canine distemper is a serious illness that has three phases. During the first week, infected dogs can show signs of high fever, lack of appetite, dehydration, tiredness, diarrhea and vomiting, the researchers wrote in the study. Up to 90 percent of dogs with distemper die during the second phase, when they can develop a stuffy nose, laryngitis and pneumonia. In the third phase, dogs experience neurological problems, including seizures.

There is now a vaccine for canine distemper, but unvaccinated dogs, as well as tigers and Amur leopards, can still die from the virus.

Given the severity of the disease, the ancient pup would have likely died right away unless it received intensive human care, the researchers said. “This would have consisted of keeping the dog warm and clean [from] diarrhea, urine, vomit [and] saliva,” as well as giving the pup water and possibly food, the researchers wrote in the study.

“While it was sick, the dog would not have been of any practical use as a working animal,” Janssens said. “This, together with the fact that the dogs were buried with people, who[m] we may assume were their owners, suggests that there was a unique relationship of care between humans and dogs as long as 14,000 years ago.”

The humans buried with the dogs had medical problems of their own. The roughly 40-year-old man had two healed bones, one on his arm and the other by his clavicle. He and the roughly 25-year-old woman also had moderate-to-severe dental disease, the researchers noted.

The grave also contained several artifacts, including a bone pin, a sculpture of an elk made from elk antlers, the penis bone of a bear and a red-deer tooth.

Although this finding is the oldest known domestic dog burial, it’s not the only ancient one. Other dog burials have been dated to about 11,600 years ago in the Near East, and archaeologists have found others dating to about 8,500 to 6,500 years ago in Scandinavia and about 8,000 years ago at the Koster Site in Illinois, the researchers said.

The study was published online Feb. 3 in the Journal of Archaeological Science.


5 interesting facts about Lewis Carroll

by Laura Geggel

Alice fell down the famous rabbit hole 150 years ago, after family friend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (better known by his pen name, Lewis Carroll) told the story to the Liddell sisters on a boat trip down the Thames on July 4, 1862.

Ten-year-old Alice Liddell, delighted by the tale, asked him for a written copy of the story. The rest is history. Carroll published the adventures in 1865, and the book hasn’t gone out of print since.

Here are five odd facts about Lewis Carroll (1832-1898), including his enthusiasm for word games, microscopes and photography.

1. Animal inspiration

“Alice in Wonderland” is chock-full of animals, including the Cheshire cat, flamingos that serve as croquet mallets and a baby that turns into a pig. Many of the animals were anthropomorphized versions of people that Alice and her sisters knew, said Carolyn Vega, assistant curator of literary and historical manuscripts at the Morgan Library & Museum in New York City.

In one Wonderland scene, Alice runs a race in circles with a dodo and a flock of other birds and animals. The dodo is supposed to be Carroll, whom everyone knew as Mr. Dodgson. He had a stammer, and sometimes haltingly introduced himself as “Dodo-Dodgson,” said Vega, who researched the book for the Morgan Library & Museum’s exhibit, “Alice: 150 Years of Wonderland,” which runs until Oct. 11.

Carroll frequently visited the Oxford Museum of Natural History, and likely noticed a dodo skeleton and painting on display at the museum, Vega said. Scholars speculate that this dodo inspired him when he was writing and illustrating the book.

Alice’s sisters, Lorina and Edith, are also in the race scene as a lorry and an eaglet. Robinson Duckworth, who accompanied Carroll and the girls on the boat trip, is included in the story as his namesake — a duck.

2. Microscope maven

Carroll used the microscope to look at amoebas, other protozoa and insect larvae, according to the Morgan’s exhibit.

In a letter to his sister Elizabeth, he wrote, “This is a most interesting sight, as the creatures are most conveniently transparent, and you see all kinds of organs jumping about like a complicated piece of machinery … Everything goes on at railway speed, so I suppose they must be some of those insects that only live a day or two, and try to make the most of it.”Just like modern early technology adopters, Carroll bought the latest microscope of his day. The microscope, manufactured in 1859 by Smith & Beck of London, was “something that he had for his whole life and took incredible care of,” Vega told Live Science.

Making a connection to the railway wasn’t surprising for a Victorian.

“This is during the exact boon of the railway expansion across Britain,” Vega said. Just as people compare concepts today to computers, people in the mid-1800s compared ideas to railroads, which was cutting-edge technology at the time, she said.

3. Word and logic games

Wonderland may be an absurd place, but it’s surprisingly logical at times. Perhaps that’s because Carroll, who taught mathematics for 26 years at Christ Church at the University of Oxford, infused logic into his writing and games.

In “Syzygies,” a game Carroll created, players change letters in one word to make another.

4. Literary breakthrough

Many children’s books in the 1800s taught morals or lessons. Not Alice.

“It’s not that Alice isn’t a good role model and inspiring, and it’s not that she doesn’t behave morally and ethically,” Vega said. “But it doesn’t conclude with a didactic statement.”

Carroll makes fun of moralistic poetry, and his parodies are sprinkled throughout the book. For instance, the poem, “You are old, Father William” spoofs the poet Robert Southey’s, “The Old Man’s Comforts, and How He Gained Them,” writing about a silly, instead of a sage old man imparting wisdom to a youth.

After reading “Wonderland,” the English artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti wrote a letter to Carroll, saying that the Father William ballad was “among the funniest things I have seen for a long while.”

Carroll’s writings helped set the stage for later children’s books, especially novels that were meant to entertain and delight children, instead of pedantically review lessons, Vega said.

5. Questionable photography

Carroll took about 3,000 photos during his lifetime. He began his hobby by snapping shots of landscapes and cathedrals but later focused on portraits and scientific specimens, Vega said.

Some of his photos give modern scholars pause. In two photos framed side by side that he gave to the Liddell family, he used Alice as a model to show the contrast of her dressed in Victorian finery next to a photo of her dressed as a beggar child. The beggar photo looks suggestive, with her tattered dress falling off her shoulders.

“It’s unavoidable and true that this photograph, in particular, has led to decades of speculation about Carroll’s true feelings for Alice,” Vega said.

In 1863, his relations with the Liddell family cooled, but it’s not clear why; one of his relatives removed the pages of Carroll’s journal from that time period, Vega said.

Carroll also took several nude photos of children, but these were taken with parental permission, Vega said. Though it seems odd by today’s standards, it wasn’t uncommon during the mid-1800s.

“Victorians considered children to be symbols of pure innocence, and being around them was to be a little closer to grace,” Vega said. “That is, the symbol of the nude child in art had a different place in the Victorian world than it does today.”

However, researchers found other incriminatory evidence against Carroll. The BBC program “The Secret World of Lewis Carroll,” which aired in January, reviews a photo found in a French museum that experts credit to Carroll. In the photo, Alice’s sister Lorina poses nude in a suggestive posture. What’s more, Alice’s descendants have heard rumors of his peculiar relationship with the girls.

“My understanding is that he was in love with Alice, but he was so repressed that he never would have transgressed any boundaries,” Vanessa Tait, the great-granddaughter of Alice Liddell, told The Telegraph.

Carroll was a “strange man, but an admirable one, and I don’t want to tar him with accusations of pedophilia, which we’re all so obsessed with now,” Tait told The Telegraph. “It’s sad that that’s the thing everyone is going to want to know, especially in the year of the anniversary of the book.”