Dead Sea Scrolls Digitally Launched As Never Seen Before By The Public   Leave a comment

Finally, the Dead Sea Scrolls have been made available through high resolution spectral imaging for the public and scholars alike to view and study.

Dead Sea Scrolls Digitally Launched As Never Seen Before By The Public

The Dead Sea Scrolls, arguably the greatest archaeological discovery of the 20th century, have now been placed online for anyone to freely view them in unprecedented high resolution detail. 

Launched the middle of December, 2012, the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library is the brainchild of a collaboration between the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) and the Google Research and Development Center in Israel. The objective is to eventually place the entire collection of about 930 manuscripts, comprised of thousands of Dead Sea Scroll fragments and representing the complete known archive of the world-reknowned ancient documents. Already, hundreds of images have been placed online for view and study by anyone interested.

What makes the achievement notable is the application of the science of spectral imaging, which not only enhances clarity but also reveals script that cannot be seen by the naked eye, affording a more complete view of the ancient texts. Using a product called MegaVision, the process produces digital images of the scroll fragments in various wavelengths. Specifically, the fragments are imaged on both sides using 12 wavelengths, 7 within the visible range and 5 in the invisible, infrared range, enabling viewers to even  “see” images, such as characters of script, where the ancient ink has faded away or disappeared from site.

“You can really see into the inside of the parchment,” said Pnina Shore, Curator and Head of the Dead Sea Scrolls Project at the IAA. 

The IAA hopes that the new spectral imaging results will lead to new readings and interpretations of the text, helping scholars to continue their research and shed additional light on the meaning of the scrolls, an endeavor that is expected to go on for decades to come.  

Said Shore of the Project: “The idea behind it is first of all, to preserve the scrolls for future generations [reducing physical handling for research and thus conserving the scroll fragments] and secondly, but just as important, to open the scrolls online to the public and the scholarly world alike.”

The Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered between 1946 and 1956 in caves near the ancient site of Khirbet Qumran adjacent to the Dead Sea in what is today the West Bank, consist of both biblical manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible and extra-biblical texts. They are significant in that many of the texts represent the earliest known surviving copies of biblical and extra-biblical documents, and have opened a window on the diversity of late Second Temple Judaism and possibly the foundations for the emergence of Christianity. They were penned in HebrewAramaicGreek, and Nabataean on parchment, with some of them on papyrus and bronze. They have been dated to between 408 BCE and 318 CE.

To view Dead Sea Scroll fragments that have already been placed online using the new technology, go to the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library.  

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Posted August 15, 2013 by kitokinimi in Uncategorized

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