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The young Ta'amireh shepherd was certainly unaware of destiny when his innocent search for a stray goat led to the fateful discovery of Hebrew scrolls in a long-untouched cave.

One discovery led to another, and eleven scroll-yielding caves and a habitation site eventually were uncovered.

Shortly before the establishment of the state of Israel, Professor E. Sukenik of the Hebrew University clandestinely acquired three of the scrolls from a Christian Arab antiquities dealer in Bethlehem.

At the same time, IAA authorities were apprehending a growing number of artifact hunters attempting to enter those caves, another development that led them to speed up their own excavations.

Among the other findings were fragments of scroll wrappings, leather and string.

The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of nearly 1,000 manuscripts written in Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic dating back to 4th century BC.

Ever since Bedouin shepherds stumbled on the first fragments hidden in caves in the Judean desert back in the late 1940s, the Dead Sea Scrolls have ranked among the greatest archaeological finds of the past century.

A collection of nearly 1,000 Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic manuscripts dating back to the fourth century B.