This cavern was categorized as belonging to one of the “manuscript caves” by part of the academic community. The 12Q (=53) became known to the general public at the beginning of 2017, after being re-excavated, exactly 70 years after the first cave was found in the Qumran valley by Bedouins. About 400 artifacts were discovered inside. The excavations were coordinated by archaeologists linked to the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), Hebrew University of Jerusalem and other foreign universities, and volunteers from various countries, and they provided information and photos from the beginning of the work.1 Just as occurred in another cave of Qumran, considered “a cave of manuscripts without manuscripts” (8Q), in 12Q no manuscripts were found. Archaeologists found many pieces of cloth, similar to those used to cover manuscripts deposited in jars found in other caves. Another evidence that would prove that the 12Q is related to the manuscripts is the presence of pieces of ceramic jars of the same style as those found with manuscripts in the Qumran caves. Still, there are researchers who disagree that the 12Q was a cave of manuscripts.2 For example, archaeologist Dennis Mizzi believes that the identification of the cave with a manuscript cave was premeditated and misleading, being more related to the uproar caused by the discovery of artifacts in another Qumran cave.3 The main point highlighted by him (and other archaeologists) is that no trace of manuscript was found. 4 The discussion on the subject is still open.
1. Part of the evolution of the excavations can be seen in https://new.huji.ac.il/en/article/33424.
2. See the debate on the subject in: https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-artifacts/dead-sea-scrolls/new-dead-sea-scroll-cave/comment-page-1/#comment-1189192.
3. In fact, the media had a negative role in its rapidity in identifying the cave as a cave of manuscripts only considering the conclusions of a few researchers without focusing on the debate that was under way. See some of this in: http://edition.cnn.com/2017/02/08/world/new-dead-sea-scrolls-cave-discovered/index.html e http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-38916687.
4. MIZZI, Dennis. Qumran aos setenta: algumas reflexões sobre os setenta anos da pesquisa acadêmica sobre a Arqueologia de Qumran e os Manuscritos do Mar Morto. In: VIEIRA, Fernando Mattiolli. Os Manuscritos do Mar Morto: 70 anos da descoberta. São Paulo: Humanitas, 2017. p. 76.