ENVIRONMENT

Israel to launch major expedition to find Dead Sea Scrolls

  • FILE - In this Thursday, July 26, 2001 file photo, Roi Porat, an Israeli student of archaeology, works near the remains of a cave found at the West Bank archeological site of Qumran, near the Dead Sea Thursday, July 26, 2001. An Israeli antiquities official says Israel is embarking on a major expedition to find more Dead Sea Scrolls and other artifacts. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis, File)

    FILE - In this Thursday, July 26, 2001 file photo, Roi Porat, an Israeli student of archaeology, works near the remains of a cave found at the West Bank archeological site of Qumran, near the Dead Sea Thursday, July 26, 2001. An Israeli antiquities official says Israel is embarking on a major expedition to find more Dead Sea Scrolls and other artifacts. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Monday, Sept. 26, 2011 file photo, Dr. Adolfo Roitman presents a part of the Isaiah Scroll, one of the Dead Sea Scrolls, inside the vault of the Shrine of the Book building at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. An Israeli antiquities official says Israel is embarking on a major expedition to find more Dead Sea Scrolls and other artifacts. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner, File)

    FILE - In this Monday, Sept. 26, 2011 file photo, Dr. Adolfo Roitman presents a part of the Isaiah Scroll, one of the Dead Sea Scrolls, inside the vault of the Shrine of the Book building at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. An Israeli antiquities official says Israel is embarking on a major expedition to find more Dead Sea Scrolls and other artifacts. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner, File)  (The Associated Press)

An Israeli antiquities official says Israel is embarking on a major expedition to find more Dead Sea Scrolls.

Amir Ganor of the Israel Antiquities Authority says a government research team will spend the next three years surveying hundreds of desert caves near the Dead Sea, where the world's oldest biblical manuscripts were discovered in 1947. The collection is considered the crown jewel of Israeli antiquities.

The official says the expedition will begin in December.

It will be the first large-scale archaeological survey of the area in more than 20 years. Looters have discovered ancient manuscripts in the area in recent years, prompting the government initiative.

Ganor spoke about the project on Monday with The Associated Press.