October 19, 2010

Dead Sea Scrolls Coming To A Computer Screen Near You

The 2,000-year-old Dead Sea Scrolls will soon be available online for all to take a look at.

The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), which is the custodian of the scrolls, said on Tuesday that it was collaborating with Google's research and development center in Israel to upload digitized images of the entire collection.

Advanced imaging technology will be installed in the IAA's laboratories early next year and high-resolution images of each of the scrolls' 30,000 fragments will be freely accessible on the Internet.  The IAA conducted a pilot imaging project during 2008.

"The images will be equal in quality to the actual physical viewing of the scrolls, thus eliminating the need for re-exposure of the Scrolls and allowing their preservation for future generations," the Authority said in a statement.

The IAA said the new technology would help to expose writing that has faded over the centuries and promote further research into one of the most important archaeological finds of the 20th century.

The scrolls are the oldest copies of the Hebrew Bible and include secular text dating from the third century B.C. to the first century A.D.

Years after Bedouin shepherds first came upon the scrolls in caves near the Dead Sea in 1947, only a small number of scholars were allowed to view the fragments.

However, access has since been widened and they were published in their entirety nine years ago.

A few large pieces of scroll are on permanent display at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

Image Courtesy Israel Antiquities Authority


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