Dead Sea Scrolls to go Online

By | Aug 27, 2008

The Guardian and New York Times report that Israel will display the Dead Sea scrolls online through a sophisticated process that will utilize technological advancements and help improve access to one of scholarship’s most guarded documents.

Even though the new technology is leading to new discoveries, the main goal of the project is to have all the scrolls visible to anybody. Says the Times:

Equipped with high-powered cameras with resolution and clarity many times greater than those of conventional models, and with lights that emit neither heat nor ultraviolet rays, the scientists and technicians are uncovering previously illegible sections and letters of the scrolls, discoveries that could have significant scholarly impact.

The 2,000-year-old scrolls, found in the late 1940s in caves near the Dead Sea east of Jerusalem, contain the earliest known copies of every book of the Hebrew Bible (missing only the Book of Esther), as well as apocryphal texts and descriptions of rituals of a Jewish sect at the time of Jesus. The texts, most of them on parchment but some on papyrus, date from the third century B.C. to the first century A.D.

In September, six of the scrolls will be on display at an exhibition at The Jewish Museum in New York.

—Benjamin Schuman-Stoler

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