2,000-year-old Oil Flask Found in Kumran Cave

A 2,000-year-old flask, still filled with an exotic oil unknown to modern man, was found in a cave at Kumran on the Dead Sea last year.

The discovery, by Hebrew University archaeologist Joseph Patrich, was announced only Tuesday, after chemical tests on the liquid in the vessel were completed.

The oil is apparently a balsam oil, used in ancient times for making perfume and certain medicines. The flask, wrapped in palm fibers, was buried less than three feet under the floor of the cave.

Balsam oil is one of the most treasured ingredients of the ancient world. It was extracted from thorny bushes, which grow near the Dead Sea.

The oil was manufactured by a secret process at Ein Gedi. The oath of secrecy is inscribed in mosaics in the remains of the Ein Gedi synagogue.

A perfume workshop also has been excavated in the area.

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