- Associated Press - Sunday, December 18, 2011

NEW YORK — A well-preserved 2,000-year-old scroll of the Ten Commandments discovered in a cave went on display in the city for the first time for a 10-day window beginning Friday. The tiny scroll will be shown at the Discovery Times Square exhibition space before returning to Israel.

The parchment, which dates to between 50 B.C. and 1 A.D., was discovered in a cave near the Dead Sea in 1952. It must be kept in a light-and-humidity-controlled environment to avoid deterioration, exhibit organizers said.

“The Ten Commandments scroll is actually in very good condition, considering it’s 2,000 years old,” exhibit curator Risa Levitt Kohn said. “And if someone was able to read modern Hebrew they could actually look at this scroll and make their way through the text.”

The scroll’s Israeli conservator, Tatina Treiger, said the parchment is “fragile, so brittle.”

Written in Hebrew, the scroll contains the text of the Ten Commandments from Deuteronomy, the fifth book of the Old Testament, and is considered to be the best-preserved artifact with the biblical principles. The scroll likely was used as a prayer leaflet.

It is on display with about 900 other scrolls also discovered in caves near the Dead Sea by Bedouin shepherds between 1947 and 1956.

The exhibit has the largest collection of biblical artifacts ever displayed outside Israel. It has been on display around the world.

The writers of the scrolls are still a mystery and topic of debate among scholars and historians.

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