Further excavations in the same cave have uncovered artifacts dating as far back as the Chalcolithic period, around 6,000 years ago.
The unique dryness of the desert provides perfect conditions for the survival of ancient objects. Last year, experts announced the discovery of silver coins dating back 2,200 years to the time of the Maccabean revolt.
“Not everyone knows that the dry climatic conditions of the Judean Desert allow the preservation of objects that do not survive in other parts of the country,” said Eli Escusido, director of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
“It is a unique time capsule, containing scroll fragments, coins from the Jewish revolt, leather sandals and now even swords in their sheaths, sharp as if they had just been hidden today.”
The Israel Antiquities Authority is conducting a thorough investigation of caves around the Judean Desert in an attempt to prevent looting. So far, hundreds of caves have been excavated and 24 excavations carried out in six years.
“During the project, we unfortunately came across dozens of caves that have been looted since 1947,” said Amir Ganor, director of the Israel Antiquities Authority Antiquities Looting Prevention Unit and one of the survey project managers.
“I shudder to think of the amount of historical knowledge that would have been lost if looters had reached the amazing artifacts in this cave before archaeologists,” he added.